the toast is dead, long live the toast.

Three days from now, and three years to the day from its first post, will be the last day of the beloved internet home of weird smart girls, The Toast.

The Toast has been such a comfy place on the internet for me. I started reading it on its first day, having jumped ship from the floundering The Hairpin commentariat earlier that year. Some of my favorite writing on the internet lives on The Toast, and so do some of my favorite internet people.

The fact that toasties from around the world are congregating on our own Slack group and Reddit forum is a testament to how important not just the site’s content, but the community that formed in its comments section, too, were to so many cool ladies.

I’m going to miss The Toast, but The Toast will live on in our sub-Reddits and Slack channels and tote bags and hearts.

Here are my favorite articles from The Toast’s short life. I didn’t realize when I made this list that these were almost all by Mallory Ortberg, but of course they are.

“Male Novelist Jokes” by Mallory Ortberg

Q: How many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: The terrible sex had made him feel deeply interesting, like a murder victim.

Q: How many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: He lit a cigarette. His glass of whiskey lit a cigarette too. “I can only truly love my best friend,” he said, “but not in a gay way. Women wouldn’t understand it. They’re too gay.” Both of the cigarettes agreed.

Q: How many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: “The cocaine isn’t the point. The cocaine is a metaphor,” he explained wearily over the pile of cocaine. She folded her arms. She didn’t understand his cocaine. “Didn’t you read my manifesto?” The prostitute had read his manifesto. Why couldn’t she?

One side effect of reading The Toast religiously was that I almost completely stopped reading writing by men, and I am so glad it happened that way. I actually missed this post when it was first published and discovered it later when suddenly the house I lived in at school, filled with nerdy queer girls, could not stop playing the video of Toast editor Mallory Ortberg doing a reading of it at a bookstore. I have probably watched this video 100 times.

“All The Comments on Every Recipe Blog” by Mallory Ortberg

“I don’t eat white flour, so I tried making it with raw almonds that I’d activated by chewing them with my mouth open to receive direct sunlight, and it turned out terrible. This recipe is terrible.”

“I followed this to the letter, except I substituted walnuts and tofu for the skirt steak, ditched the cheese entirely, and replaced the starch with a turnip salad. Turned out great. My seven-year-old boys have never seen a dessert and I’ve convinced them that walnut-and-turnip salad is “cake.” Thanks for the recipe!”

“a warning that if you cook this at 275°F for three hours instead of at 400°F for twenty-five minutes its completely ruined. do you have any suggestions?”

“I’m actually a supertaster, so I can’t eat anything that isn’t licking the salt off the top of saltines; will this recipe work for me?”

Where is the lie?

“What Abortions Should Be Like” by Mallory Ortberg

“Hi, how are you, I’m Maya Angelou,” she’ll say. “Melon slice?” And she’ll offer you a plate with some melon slices on it. And you’ll say yes or no, depending on how you’re feeling that day.

Good melon too, not the flavorless crunchy stuff you get at the supermarket. It’s soft, and, fragrant, and you let it insinuate itself into your mouth more than you chew it. She opens the door for you, and you step inside. Soft lighting. Unscented candles. Everyone in loungewear, even you, the really soft-looking kind that rich women wear.  The carpet is so thick you can feel your toes sink between the heavy, nubby threads.

You think you should probably say something to Maya Angelou, because she’s Maya Angelou, and it’s really nice of her to take time out of her day to talk to you before you get your abortion. “Do you really wear a hat every time you write?”

“I really do,” she says. “Would you like to sign in?”

Mallory’s satire is so spot on and her comedic voice so strong that I will read her jokes and forget that she writes things like this, too. I am so glad The Toast made me pay attention to her work. In high school, the feminist activism I had access to was all about abortion rights. I spent winter weekends standing between protestors and the Planned Parenthood in the college town half an hour from my home. If only we could live in this world.

Children’s Stories Made Horrific: Beauty and the Beast by Mallory Ortberg

Beauty at first was sadly grieved at the loss of her fortune; but she had ever found that if she made herself smaller, life would trouble her less. Beauty rose at four in the morning, and made haste to have the house clean, and dinner ready for the family. No one paid her for it, and no one thanked her for it, either, and so gradually she ceased to think of it as work and began to think of it as her nature. She expected it from herself as others expected it of her, and who can be grateful for what is supposed to come naturally?

My love for this series knows no bounds. I think I have cried at every story, and every time I return to this one.

“Lines From Go Ask Alice That, In Hindsight, Should Have Tipped Me Off That This Was Not A True Story” by Mallory Ortberg

“The movie was fun with Scott. We went out after and I ate six wonderful, delicious, mouth-watering, delectable, heavenly french fries. That was really living in itself! I don’t feel about Scott like I used to about Roger. I guess that was my one and only true love, but I’m glad it’s over.”

Do you know who talks about french fries like that? Old ladies wearing sunglasses in birthday cards they sell at car wash gift stores, and Mormon therapists who write fake diaries by imaginary fifteen-year-olds.

“I wonder if I could go stick my finger down my throat and throw up after every meal?”

Teenagers don’t independently invent the concept of eating disorders in their journals. She would just call it bulimia.

“I’m so, so, so, so, so curious, I simply can’t wait to try pot, only once, I promise! I simply have to see if it’s everything that it’s cracked up not to be! All the things I’ve heard about LSD were obviously written by uninformed, ignorant people like my parents who obviously don’t know what they’re talking about; maybe pot is the same.”

At this point, we are expected to believe that even a single human being has tried the following drugs, in the following order:

  1. LSD
  2. Speed
  3. Benzos
  4. Various “uppers and downers”
  5. Injected speed
  6. Acid
  7. Tranquilizers
  8. Marijuana

Marijuana is a gateway drug, not the last drug you try after you’ve done everything else.

My parents were lenient about letting me read almost anything as a kid and I read Go Ask Alice probably way too young. I honestly didn’t ever know it wasn’t real until Mallory and The Toast set me straight.

“How to Buy a Car Without Interacting With a Human” by Nicole Cliffe

Step Three:
Contact the internet sales department! There will either be an email address for this, or a generic “Make an Inquiry” box, into which you type “please email me, I would like to buy a car.” Then you wait. You will probably wait about four minutes, because car dealers are like travel agents were fifteen years ago: hungry, and aware the end of their industry is upon them. Okay, you have received an email from a person. Ideally, you have received emails from a minimum of two dealerships. If there is only one in your town, email one in the NEXT town. You need two to tango, trust me.

Step Four:
Say “Hi! I’ll be doing this over email. I would like to purchase a 2014 Model X with the extra-fire package. What is your best price on that?” At this point, I received a very rapid response from each of my two dealers. Dealer One said: “That model is retailing for Money, I can offer you a discount which will bring it down to Money – $1000.” Dealer Two said: “I would have to order that in for you special, so it would probably cost Money.” NOW THE DANCE BEGINS.

Step Five:
Email Dealer Two (or whoever made you the inferior offer) and say: “Oh! I’m talking to Dealer One, and they have one on the lot they’re willing to offer me for Money-$1000.”

When I have to replace my trusty (ok, not trusty but instead dying-at-random-usually-in-winter) first car I will 100% be following Nicole’s advice to the letter.

“Animal Rescue Questionnaire: Are You Good Enough To Save This Dog?” by Mallory Ortberg

ANIMAL(S) OF INTEREST: This is a trick question. If you choose more than one animal, we will know you are not serious about any of them. If you choose only one animal, we will know you are almost certainly an emotional sadist bent on dominating that pet in particular, and there is something deeply wrong with you. Zero points.

YOUR NAME: (All answers are wrong)

NAME OF SPOUSE: (If married, deduct one point; they are already emotionally committed to another human being and will likely mistreat any animals that come into their home. If unmarried, deduct one point; they are incapable of forming long-lasting relationships and will probably move away and leave the dog chained up in the yard during a rainstorm)

NAME OF ADDITIONAL LOVE-RECIPIENTS/SWEETIES/CO-SLEEPERS/BEDMATES: (Deduct a point for each additional polyamorous partner that lives in the house with them; add half a point for each parter who lives out-of-state)

STREET ADDRESS: (Wrong)

HOME PHONE: (Deduct ten points for any phone numbers beginning with an area code)

WORK PHONE: (They should not have a work phone)

The more kitten foster Instagrams I follow, the more convinced I am that I need to foster kittens and that I will never be good enough to foster kittens.

“‘Where’s My Cut?’: On Unpaid Emotional Labor” by Jess Zimmerman

I’ve actually been on agony aunt duty for male friends since high school, so if it’s true that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something, counseling bereft dudes may in fact be my only expert skill.

And yet, it is basically impossible to monetize, short of demanding funds to build a gold bridge. Not that I’d charge my friends – but I don’t charge to edit stuff for them either, nor do usually they charge me when they knit me something or draw me a picture or feed my dog. Yet that work is still considered to have value. I’ve offered to pay for dogsitting, they’ve offered to pay for editing; often we arrange some kind of barter in lieu of payment. If we wanted to charge someone else money for these services, it would not be considered absurd. But emotional labor? Offering advice, listening to woes, dispensing care and attention? That’s not supposed to be transactional. People are disturbed by the very notion that someone would charge, or pay, for friendly support. It’s supposed to come free.

This essay introduced me to the concept of emotional labor and it felt like someone had named something that I always knew existed but never had a word for. This is why men are so exhausting. This and the Metacritic thread on emotional labor are foundational for me.

“The Names They Gave Me” by Tasbeeh Herwees

vi.
My college professors don’t even bother. I will only know them for a few months of the year. They smother my name in their mouths. It is a hindrance for their tongues. They hand me papers silently. One of them mumbles it unintelligibly whenever he calls on my hand. Another just calls me “T.”

My name is a burden. My name is a burden. My name is a burden. I am a burden.

vii.
On the radio I hear a story about a tribe in some remote, rural place that has no name for the color blue. They do not know what the color blue is. It has no name so it does not exist. It does not exist because it has no name.

So much of The Toast is insightful but funny, lighthearted in its wit and sarcasm. But then the pieces that are completely gut-wrenching like this one pop up every so often, too.

“As A Father Of Daughters, I Think We Should Treat All Women Like My Daughters” by Mallory Ortberg

Before I had daughters — Stimothy and Atalanta are truly the apples of my eye — I would follow women into voting booths and knock their hands away from the lever whenever they tried to engage in the democratic process. Who knew having daughters would change all that? Not I.

Personally, now that I have daughters, I don’t think anyone should do bad things to women, especially the ones who are my daughters. I think we should treat every woman in the world like she was my daughter, except for my wife and my mother, who I will treat slightly differently.

Did you know that when you have daughters, it’s like making a woman you have to care about out of parts of your own body? Well, it’s true. Now that I have daughters (two of them, to the best of my knowledge), I’ve got all sorts of new ideas about how to treat women. Now that I’ve got daughters, it’s time for the whole world to make some changes.

One last spot on Mallory piece to make you laugh, then cringe, then laugh again.

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