Farewell To The Toast: I Shaven’t It, I Shaven’t It Muchly
By Ijeoma Oluo
Before I became a writer, I loved words. They were fun and magical gateways to new worlds. As a child, my best friend and I would work on our novel together — a tale of a brave brown girl who was cast into the wild after her parents died, who had to use her bravery, strength, and somehow beauty to survive alone in the woods. We would trade off writing duties each night, one of us handwriting a few pages and then sliding it in the window of the other’s bedroom for editing. We were going to write like this forever; life would be like a giant nerdy sleepover.
Then I became a writer — a real, adult writer. And honestly, most days I don’t love words very much. Like I hated cash registers and go-backs when I worked as a cashier in my teens, I often hate nouns and adjectives and the clickety-clack sound of my keyboard. Many days, words have sadly become a job.
And on days when a word count feels like a punishment, or on days when I’ve had to write about something too raw and too real — if I’m lucky, I’ll remember The Toast, the miraculously smart and marvelously weird website that bids adieu today. When I remember The Toast, I will often go so far as to throw a hand up in the air and exclaim, “Oh shit — The Toast!” and then shake my head at myself for being such a weirdo to forget for a moment that The Toast exists (solely, I’m convinced) to remind me (and only me) that words are fun and wondrous and full of possibility.
I have yet to come across a day that The Toast couldn’t make at least a little better.
The Toast is as witty and fun and smart and serious as I feel maybe Lorelai and Rory wanted to be in Gilmore Girls, but Lorelai wasn’t that into books and art anymore and Rory was kind of the worst. Fuck it — nevermind that — The Toast is Paris if everyone realized how Paris was way better than Rory and gave her the respect and admiration she deserved so she could fully enjoy how awesome she was.
The Toast likes everything you like, but understands why you like those things in a way you were never able to articulate before yet felt in your heart — and it’s like an inside joke just between the two of you.
The Toast is basically all of the cool, smart, queer, slightly intimidating, yet oddly approachable BFFs that you thought you were going to make at college when you were looking at the brochures.
The Toast is why you love words, why you love art, why you love feminism, why you love the internet.
And now we are supposed to say goodbye? I shaven’t it.
So, instead of goodbye, I will promise to follow Mallory Ortberg, Nicole Cliffe, and Nicole Chung everywhere they go — throughout their entire careers — forever. I will share their tweets the way first-time parents share baby pictures. I’ll pull up old articles in conversation the way people pull up pictures of their pets. I’ll sigh wistfully when I see their names in print elsewhere while “I Will Always Love You” plays in my head, knowing that it was better to have once known The Toast and set it free, than to have never known it at all.
If you have not known The Toast before, I am sorry. I am so very sorry. Because I am introducing you to a love that will one day have to end. I have doomed you to heartbreak and yet, already, it is too late for you to stay away. I wish there was another way, but you must feel it all — the joy and the eventual pain. As you launch into this love affair — running through fields of tulips and laughing together in the grass — you will have to push away the knowledge that there will be no more The Toast. Push that knowledge away and live in the now, when there are still articles you haven’t read and laughs you haven’t shared. It is cruel of me, I know, to set you up for such heartbreak. But click on a link below and you will understand that nothing this wonderful can last forever.
“your babies clutch up on your back like a nest of pest-pellets and they cratchle-scrabble onto your skin with their little fist-knives which is not how babies should behave”
“why do i only have a stone lion for my LEFT HAND
what am i supposed to do with my right hand
besides BE DISAPPOINTED”
“EXEC #1: How will kids feel when they watch this show?
THE ANIMATOR: Disconcerted. Unmoored. Hyper-stimulated. Amused to the point of terror.”
“MONK #1: what did Jesus look like
MONK #2: oh that’s a really good question
MONK #1: thanks
MONK #2: he had the longest face in the world
MONK #1: really
MONK #2: oh yes his face was so long he could see the sunrise while his mouth was still asleep”
“why can’t you leave the house
oh my god
where to even START
there’s a heart in the floor
and it will not shut uppppp of beating
but that’s not even the main thing
there’s a cat with one eye that keeps calling me a murderer
did you murder anyone?
you know what you sound like right now?
do I sound like the cat
you sound like the cat with one eye”
“If Stanley Tucci were your boyfriend, it would always be the second week of fall. The sun would never set before 8pm, but you would never sweat again.”
“MRS WHATSIT: hello
is anybody home
MRS. MURRY: excuse me?
MRS WHATSIT: i’m coming in for sandwiches and to take some of your sheets
also your children, i will be taking them
MRS. MURRY: you’re what?
MRS WHATSIT: oh by the way your husband is in space
and your science is terrible
you have barely any science and your husband is trapped in space
i’ll just take these two children and those sheets over there