The Gaslight Chronicles

Benjamin Obler
5 min readOct 21, 2023

Another home-brewed piece à la The New Yorker’s Shouts & Murmurs column — from the archive, Jan 2019

A literal gaslight.

July 19

It all started when I was buying some things online, and check-out was failing. I call customer service, and they’re like, You have to enter the address that goes with the card. I’m like, But I need to enter my address, where I want it shipped. And they’re like, Aren’t they the same? So I explain that no, it’s my cousin’s card, which she lent to me, and they’re like, Put her on the phone, and I’m like, I can’t she’s not here, she’s in Hawaii, and this is her emergency credit card that she keeps in her dresser drawer. When she gets back, I’ll tell her that she’s lending it to me. They refused to help me! I’m like, Fine, I know when I’m being gaslighted. I’ll buy my bulk medjool dates from another Turkish goods wholesaler.

July 22

I swear, gaslighting is an epidemic! Today I popped in on the Whitney Museum’s director to see if they had realized yet that the world needs to see my series of watercolors of Pelham Bay, and the lady’s like, I’m sorry, ma’am, in reviewing your submissions we noticed what appears to be some of Turner’s landscape paintings visible beneath your work. I said, I told you in the cover letter not to view them in direct light. Totally gaslit! Some people are just obsessed with gaslighting! Can you believe it? The security guard came around and broke up the epic gaslight carnival.

July 28

Just chilling with my journal today. I can’t deal. So much gaslighting everywhere. Speaking of that, I was talking to Debbie, and she’s like, Did you know that back in olden times lights actually ran on gas. She’s like, That’s where the word comes from. On the streets of places like Bratislava, people would smell the gas emanating from the lamps when they were not lit during the daytime. It would make them dizzy, nauseated. I had a hard time believing this, so I Wiki’d it, but would you believe the page is fricken gaslit all over by a bunch of gaslighting gaslighters?

July 29

After dinner, my husband Ron says, “Marcia, we have to talk.” He pulls out my notebook and is like, “I read your journal. “

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Benjamin Obler

Instructor at @GothamWriters, NYC. Ed.-in-Chief of AspiringWriterSyndrome.com, where fiction is the focus and inspiration is the goal. #Javascotia @PenguinBooks