Dear Erica with a C,
I hope this letter finds you well. I would have sent it to you directly, but you seem to have refused my Facebook and Twitter adds. That’s fine. I understand your reticence completely — I usually don’t add strangers, either! I’m sorry if I creeped you out. I’m sorry if this letter creeps you out. It’s just a gag, obviously. Mostly.
I had hoped we could become online “friends”. Not so we could hang out, or so I could vicariously live your simple, innocent twenty-year-old life, but so we could remain in contact whenever Loyola University committed another grievous mix-up.
Like the time you accidentally got the package of Sherri’s Berries my mom sent to my office! They got shipped to your dorm room. Thank you for returning them, by the way. They were all melted and bruised by the time I saw them, but that’s the Loyola mailroom’s fault.
Or the time you received a personal, financial in nature email from my Graduate Program Director, and you emailed him back to tell him that you weren’t the right Erika. Thanks for that! What a doll.
If you had my email, though, you could have just directly contacted me! Or told the Program Director (who should know better, I’m a fucking fifth year in the program) what my actual email was! Eprice3! Not eprice4. I wonder who eprice1 and 2 are?
Did I ever tell you about the time I received your CTA U-Pass by mistake? You are a cute, angular-faced girl with sad-looking brown eyes and side-swept light brown bangs – just like me! I was halfway off campus before I paused with a jolt, and re-examined the photograph. Angular though your face might be, you lack my prominent beak. Your nose is a gentle bunny hill running down the center of your face; mine is a ski slope. I returned the U-Pass post-haste, so you never knew about it. Think nothing of it.
These and many other administrative snafus could have abated if we were in contact. I know your email, eprice4, but I don’t feel right perturbing you, since you have deliberately ignored my social media overtures.
Yesterday, I went to pick up my prescription and there was a lengthy misunderstanding, wherein the pharmacist claimed I had unenrolled from the university health plan. I raged and had a conniption right there, thinking I might miss a birth control pill and be rendered immediately pregnant. Eventually, I was reminded of your existence and was able to clear the whole thing up.
Are you okay, Erica Price? Did you drop out? I’m an instructor in the Psych department, and I would be more than happy to tutor you pro bono. As a 20-year-old and legal dependent, did you decide to enroll in your parents’ medical insurance instead of Loyola’s dreadful, bargain basement Blue Cross Blue Shield? That was a smart move.
What prescription did you have on file at the CVS below Loyola Station on Sheridan? Was it birth control? Valtrex? Do you take a low-estrogen off-brand version of Ortho Tri-Cyclen? How do you feel about their recent packaging change? Does it make you break out in a series of small flesh-colored whiteheads on the third week of your cycle?
I don’t mean to pry. I just think it would be mutually beneficial to stay in contact, since there is such considerable overlap between us. We’re at the same school. We have the same name — almost, that C is an essential difference and I’m sure you know it. You’re a psych major. I’m a social psychologist. I have tread some of the very ground you shall eventually tread.
Did you major in psychology because you have an abiding interest in people; namely, in the shit that’s wrong with people? Are you told you are a quote-unquote good listener? Can you sit beside an emotionally bereft person unloading their torments in a torrent of rambling, blubbering words, study the intricate, exquisite anguish on their face, and just feed on that shit? Do you find yourself feeling, in social situations, like a woman apart? An invisible, all-watching specter, at once both removed and resonating with all things?
Did you major in Psych because you thought you wanted to become a shrink, only to learn (to your profound dismay) that no therapeutic orientation works? Were you disappointed by the vague hand-waving and pathologizing nature of the helping field? Did the program’s hearty statistics and research methods requirements frighten you, or enlighten you? Are you frustrated at all moments by the idiocy and flagrant misunderstanding of the scientific method that besets you on all sides?
Are you disturbed by the job prospects of undergraduate Psychology majors, the most popular major in the country with the fifth-highest unemployment rate? Are you aware of how low your odds of getting into graduate school are? And then of getting financial support? And then of finishing? And then of actually getting a fulfilling, academic-type job, rather than some soul-sucking corporate whack-off doing research as a consultant for (let’s say) a dog food company?
At any rate, I know what you’re going through. We Erika Prices have to stick together. We are a special, small subsection of society with unique struggles and gifts. And if you friend me, you will be united with all of them. I happen to be friends with every single Erica Price (K or C) who has a public profile on Facebook. Most of them are black. Each one is a gorgeous, witty, well-adjusted shining star of humanity.
I am not friends with the Erickas who spell it with both a C and a K. Fuck those people. Greedy bitch bastards.
You will be welcomed into this collective of EPs with open arms and warm smiles. There is no jealousy or resentment of your redundant, confusion-creating existence, my dear. The more Erica Prices exist in this world, the better.
You must trust that I come to this clan out of serious commitment and love. Let me explain.
I chose to be an Erika Price. At eighteen I paid 110 dollars to change my name and join these illustrious ranks. Some are elected to serve, but for me the name was a banner I chose to take up. My birth name was Erika Bohannon, which I also shared almost exclusively with awesome black women I’ve friended on Facebook. But that’s neither here nor there.
I know you don’t want me bothering you, Erica. You’re a young doe with a life full of phony identities and faulty career decisions ahead of you, and it is imperative that I exercise some boundaries. I have to release you charitably to make your own choices and mistakes. But before I abandon your creepy doppelgänger ass to the world and all its bloodthirsty perils, I figured I’d reach out to you one last time.
This is a peace offering. An offer of friendship and mentorship. I am here if you want my help. If someday you change your mind, I’ll be there. I’ll always be with you.
Erika D. Price
Erika Price is a writer and social psychologist. She has appeared in The Paper Machete, Essay Fiesta, Loose Chicks, and Write Club, and writes and performs regularly in Cassandra, Chicago’s only radio-style sketch comedy show. Erika’s work has been published in The Toast, The Rumpus, Literary Orphans, and the Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology. She posts new writing and photos of her chinchilla Dump Truck regularly aterikadprice.tumblr.com.