Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 1



Imogen Arate


Message from a God Who's Tired of You not Taking Their Hints

Hey. Hi,

We noticed you have been taking our names in vain.

Although we've been really preoccupied, you know, with having to manage an expanding universe and all, we've felt the need to tell you this.

How we’d go about it has been a fraught decision, since we've taken note of all your misinterpretations of our words and actions.

So many people have claimed to be our representatives: speaking and writing in our names (not to mention all of those who have invoked them to commit ghastly acts against each other, but let’s not get into all that right now, since you might all be long gone by the time we finished enumerating those).

We understand there's been several anthologies with some of these collected writings in circulation that are quite popular. Since they contradict each other, we were pretty sure you'd realize that they couldn't have come from us. We’re omnipotent, you remember? So, contradiction is not really in our, what's that popular term you kids use these days, wheel house.

We must admit that we let our ego get in the way of seeing things clearly. Since we made you, and everything else, we didn't really want to admit that you can veer so far from our intentions. But kids, you know, they will have a mind of their own!

Free will is one of our prouder achievements, especially since we made all this out of nothing. You have an entire planet and solar system to draw inspirations from, while we had none of those privileges.

But we digress. We have to say, when we have the time to spare, we do wonder if free will was a misstep. Sure, we’re omniscient and omnipresent, but knowledge and perfection are two entirely different things, as you well know.

Speaking of which, Saint Peter would like you to slow the fuck down. They haven’t taken vacation in eons, and their crankiness is getting on our nerves.

Let us not go down that tangent, since we don’t really have the time right now to deal with all the resentment that bubbles up from getting into all of that! Suffice it to say it makes us want to smite something. Since some of you are obviously not equipped to handle our latest test (just trying to see if you’ve been paying attention, which clearly you haven’t), we’re gonna give you a break, for now.

Anyway, we’ve been hearing a lot of promise-laced prayers recently and we have to say that one, we do sympathize. We’ve seen some of you trying your darnedest to help each other out, and that really warms our heart. At the same time, a lot other of you are really not pulling your weight, especially those who have been sending us false “atonements.”

Again, we are OMNISCIENT! So, we would appreciate it if you don’t treat us like some simpleton toddler, as if we were those you’ve elected as the head of some of your clans. We’d like to believe you are smart enough not to insult our intelligence. But if you are working this hard to prove us wrong, then we might pull a Thanos. (You do tell us by your actions that you respond much better to violence than kindness.)

Don’t test us. Unlike you, we keep our promises.

The fact is, the old us would have done it already. But after taking some time to work on our own personal growth, we have decided to tackle our anger-management issues head on. We’ve taken up meditation and we’re going to lead by example.

IF you can put your petty differences aside and work together to get over this virus hurdle and fix the planet we gave you—Do you have ANY idea how much Gaia’s been nagging us about those hot flashes?—we promise to bring you some new friends to play with.

Hint: SETI might pay off soon.

If, on the other hand, you continue down this path…. Well, you’ve seen what happened since the beginning of last year.

Alright, nice talk.

Gotta run. Lucifer and we have to hash out plans to expand hell’s capacity. We told them to just use Mars, but they’re too tired to get into a Twitter fight with Elon Musk. So, that’s another building project added to our plate.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Tootles.




Introducing Lyft’s New Dating App: Whether You Want It or Not™️1

Dear “Valued” Customer,


After racking our brains over the past 10 months about our plummeting profits, we have decided to partner up with our once rival, Uber, to leverage what we do best: Connecting predatory men with vulnerable women who need a “ride,” by offering you a free add-on dating feature.

As our special customer (i.e., a female-identifying person of any age who has taken a ride share), we are offering you the opportunity to be our beta tester for absolutely FREE*.

“Whether You Want It or Not™” is exactly that. You don’t have to do anything other than continue using Lyft (and if you must, Uber), and we’ll work hard in the background to match you with that incel, groper, rapist who, we’ve heard, has been assaulting other women, but have kept on the down low for your special day.

“When will that be?” you might ask.

Well, don’t fret. (And please don’t crinkle your nose in disgust. It’ll give you wrinkles, though our drivers, bless their heart, will not care.)

It will be whenever you feel or act slightly vulnerable: When you think we’re your only option; when your friends believe you’ll be safer riding with us than driving yourselves home. We are here for you, Whether You Want It or Not™, and we’ll pair you with that special someone you thought we were here to help you avoid.


Here’s what some of our drivers have to say:

— “Itching to get back into the driver’s seat with killer moves for the next Stacey. Heck, I’ll even take a Becky. I’m a nice guy.” Three-complainer**


Remember how we told you to sit in the front seat? Well, that was just an initial-trial step we took, after one of our fresh MBA graduate interns (and we do mean fresh!) drunk-texted us the harebrained idea during a frat reunion.

The only reason we’re now sending you this email “opt-in” letter is because the media’s finally got wind of “Whether You Want It or Not™.”


From another potential match:

— “They always say no, but I know what those big wide eyes want.” Seven Times’s the Charm**


In case you feel violated, we want you to know that the police will not take your complaints seriously. In fact, they and DA offices anywhere you find our dating app have already collaborated to ensure that your reports of harassment or assault receive as little attention as possible.

(Be realistic! We just voted between one old white man who’s been accused of multiple assaults and another who’s been recorded by multiple news outlets creeping up on women and girls, and that ONE rape accusation.)

We at Lyft, like the rest of society, believe in incremental improvements and backpedalling whenever possible. That’s why, after watching Uber combat multiple assault-related lawsuits with a mumble-jumble action plan peppered with high-minded language, we waited for our very own multiple lawsuits of the same nature to announce to you that you, our special customer, have been selected to become a beta tester for our absolutely FREE* dating app, “Whether You Want It or Not™.”

That’s what we’d call progress!


Another charmer:

— I’ve been binging free porn since the shut down. So I’m sure I’m up to snuff.” Ankle-Monitor Accessorizer**


*Offer does not cover charges resulting from our predatory drivers rerouting while he takes you on a scenic tour of abandoned lots or darken back roads to get you in the mood.

**Because we take privacy seriously, we have changed the names of those whom we feel are truly in need of protection. #MeToo #NotAllMen



1 https://www.marieclaire.com/politics/a32757898/lyft-sexual-assault/



Imogen Arate: “I am an award-winning Asian-American poet and writer and the Executive Producer and Host of ’Poets and Muses,’ an award-winning weekly poetry podcast. I have written in four languages and published in two. My work was most recently featured in The Opiate, ChArt Journal 2020, The New Verse News and dyst Literary Journal.”




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