When writer Kristen Roupenian sat down to pen her short story Cat Person she had no idea the tale of bad sex and the dynamics of dating would sweep through the internet like Hurricane Ashley on Cinco De Mayo. Now, nearly a year later, Roupenian is talking about the story and the events prompting her to write the tale of Margot and Robert which became the New Yorkers most read piece of online fiction.
Roupenian says it all started with a bad date from an online dating site:
I went on the date, it went poorly and we got in a fight. And that’s all right, but I thought, 'I'm 35, how did I make this mistake? How did I misread someone so completely? When I was 26 and dating, I was such a mess and everything was terrible. I thought now I would be a mature adult and wouldn’t screw up and would understand when people are garbage right away but instead I felt just as smacked by it and just as confused.
The story of Cat Person revolves around Margot who meets Robert at the movie theater where she works. She gives him her number even though she doesn't find him attractive. Over time they begin a texting relationship that escalates quickly and leads to two awkward dates. On the second date the two sleep together and throughout the event we hear Margot inner dialogue trying to convince herself she is more into him than she really is. After disappointing sex, Margot losses interest and ghosts Robert until her friend steps in, takes her phone and tells him to stop trying to contact Margot. The story ends when Margot sees Robert in a bar and he sends her a series of angry texts.
Some people criticized the story for Margot's lack of honesty around sex. Roupenian described the reasoning for her choices saying:
I think that young women in particular feel they have to manage and control and soothe and charm and weave this magic around men. Robert’s sexual ego is almost a third character in the story, always the most important person in the room, quietly being cared for and managed by Margot as if it’s encased in a glass box. And why? Why not put your fist through it?
Roupenian also touched on the difficulties of dating in an electronic age where fantasies of who people are can replace actual people. She points out how easy it is to get wrapped up in an online or text fantasy, saying:
It can be really satisfying to act a script, as opposed to being honest about who you are. It’s nice to think, ‘Look at us, doing this thing, we’re having this romantic story.’ And then suddenly it shocks you and you wake up and you know this was all made up, and I don’t like this person and he doesn’t like me, and I feel horrible.
The writer is staying busy with a book of short stories, You Know You Want This, due out next year.
Fans of the story appreciated the added perspective.
"This moment feels like the heart of Cat Person — men and women lying to each other. A total tragedy of miscommunication in which no one is the goodie or the baddie, born from a culture of lies about what we should be, from fairy tales to romcoms to porn." https://t.co/0JREbcUbAi— kelsey j barnes (@kelseyjbarnes) May 14, 2018