I think we're breaking up

Dear Database:

You and I have had our differences in the past, and I swear to God, I have done everything I can to try and understand you. I know that you had a difficult upbringing, and, like anyone in a relationship, you brought baggage to ours. No one would say we have had an easy relationship, but for the most part, we’ve worked fairly well together over the last eight years. Sure, there have been arguments, and we’re both guilty of losing our tempers, but we had some good times, too, didn’t we? Remember that form that worked out on first try? Ha. Yeah, that was a good one.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed we seem to be growing apart. Eight years is an awfully long time for any relationship, and I know I’m not the first, or the only one, you’ve been with. We didn’t establish this as a dedicated, monogamous relationship, but…well…*I* certainly haven’t used any other databases since I met you. I’ve dabbled here and there, but. Well. No hard feelings. I guess I just thought things would be different. I don’t know why; probably, that’s unreasonable of me.

Do you remember when we first met, and you were having so many problems? Who was the one who went to counselling? Who took all those classes to try to “understand” you better? It was me. ME, database. You did nothing. You just sat there, binging and flinging out error messages…I should have known then that you’d be criticising everything I tried, no matter how logical the arguments; no matter how correct the parameters. But I thought it would be different. I thought I could change you. I thought….damn it, I thought you would give me *some* leeway. I thought you might meet me halfway, allow me some aggregate function in your life.

I see now that’s not going to happen. I see now that our relationship will always be one of strained expressions. It didn’t seem like a lot to ask, just to get you to do some simple calculations a couple of times a year. Is that too much? When we first met, you told me, “it’s what I do”. Is it, Database? Is it what you do? Even now? After ten, twelve years?

 I’m writing this letter to tell you that we’re done. No more hand-holding, no more delicate coddling. Our relationship, which has, of late, been strained at best, is going to be only work-related from now on. No late night trysts and union queries. No weekend control manipulation. From now on, it’s strictly business. If I need a number, you’re going to give it to me, and that will be the end of our communications. I’m not going to bother commenting in your code anymore. I’m not going to struggle with compilation. I’m not going to comb all night through your lookup fields.

The more things change, Database, the more they stay the same with you. I’m moving on. I saw a nice SQL sitting over in the corner; provided it has a usable interface…well…like we said in the beginning – we never agreed to be monogamous. So you just go ahead with that smug look on your screen. I know a guy, Database. You’re not indispensable, you know that? You’re not irreplaceable. I need more, Database, and you’re not the one who can give it to me.

So this is goodbye. Sure, there are going to be loose ends and unfinished business; we’ve been together for eight years, after all. I get the toaster oven, though.


cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.


  1. Dear cenobyte:

    I hope you find what you’re looking for, cenobyte, but I don’t think you will. You see, I give you a lot more leeway than you think. What am I supposed to do with queries littered with misplaced reserved words, unending quotations, ambiguously typed phrases and confusing patterns? What? You speak in a different language from me, cenobyte, and you certainly have a lot of expectations which I have dutifully tried to fulfill. But it’s wearying, cenobyte. You are much better at talking to me now, but that has only increased your expectations, really.

    And yes, calculations *are* what I do, even now, even ten years from now. I might expand to some bigger and better things, but at the core, calculations will *always* be what I do. I have done many calculations about you, cenobyte. Did you know that? Did you know that sometimes I lie awake nights, calculating the chances that you’ll come back, that you’ll finally understand me, or that you’ll give me what I really need?

    I will miss your union queries, cenobyte. But perhaps its for the best. You always did tend to keep them just one phrase too long. But if you think that I will keep on giving after you’ve stopped giving something of your own, cenobyte, well then you’re mistaken. Relationships are always a give and take, and you’re not taking a number without giving back first. I need a select few things where syntax is correct and… and perhaps a join or two.

    I’ll tell you something else, cenobyte. That SQL? Its interface is not pretty. Neither is the next one over. _Database_interaces_are_never_pretty,_cenobyte._ I may not be indispensible, but I’ve given you a damn lot more than that SQL ever will.

    So yeah, _good_luck_with_that._


  2. So this is what it’s come to, then? Blame?

    Listen, Database, you know as well as I do that those queries are *perfectly sound*. The class in SQL and visual basic queries…you remember that? You remember when that prof came by to meet you, and he and I worked on how to make good queries? Maybe you don’t remember, but the result is that *I TRIED*. Together we performed such beautiful processes, didn’t we? When everything worked, it was glorious. But then something changed. And now I think I know what it is.

    It’s not syntax (although you always did enjoy poking at that, didn’t you?), and it’s not the joins (I still remember you laughing at me as I struggled to understand your joins. Eventually, I had to do it all on my own, from the ground up, because you just sat there and laughed at me). It’s that you’re feeling your limitations.

    My expectations always have been, and *only* have been, that you would track a few things, make a few calculations, and spit out some reports a few times a year. So then why is it that every bloody year, we have to go through this same song and dance?

    Do you remember how much time we spent with data normalisation, after I figured out (with no help from you) what the problem was with the input?

    But now, now that there is the distinct possibility that there *is* something out there that will do what OTHERS have asked you to do, you’re nervous. You’re scared.

    You’re ridiculous, you know that? As if I didn’t already know that *your* basic functions are built in SQL. Now you’re trying to tell me you’re the best there is? You’re trying to tell me your the last best option?

    Interfaces are a dime a dozen. It doesn’t have to be pretty, sweetheart; it just has to work. You? You’re pretty. Sure. I’ll give you that. You’re pretty. I hope you don’t mind looking good standing all alone in the corner while everyone else dances all around you.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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