“Through the whole thing, I found that people are very interested in the unknown. They’re very interested in finding things they’re not 100% certain of.”
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The end of the “Stacey” project began with a note of finality.
STACEY THIS IS THE LAST TIME I’LL BE TALKING TO YOU.
Told through more than 200 fliers posted across Boston, the “Stacey” project finished as two things at once: It was a) the story of a man named Tony and his futile monthslong attempt to win his ex-girlfriend Stacey back after having cheated on her and b) an experiment that tried to bring literature into the public sphere, inviting the average commuter to play a role in its narrative.
As promised, the last flier in the series was posted on Dec. 20, bringing to an end a grand tale that reached thousands locally and online and inspired a religion.
It’s a silly story, filled with plenty of goofs, gags and hijinks. But underneath the shenanigans there’s also something deeply human, invoked by asking an impossible question: How do you become a person on your own, without love, without your creator?
Sabine Ollivier Yamin, the 21-year-old Boston University student who started the project back in April, had a simple answer: let him talk it out.
You can read the full story of her project, 10-foot-tall frogs, infidelity and all, here. Without further ado, this is how the story ends …
Last we left off, Tony had kicked Stacey’s mom out after she tried to kill his best friend and 10-foot-tall sentient frog, Grof.
It’s unclear how we get from there to here, but regardless, he pays Laura a visit (for some context, Laura is Stacye’s best friend and the person with whom Tony cheats on Stacey.)
What she tells him comes totally out of left field.
STACEY LAURA TOLD ME YOU CHEATED ON ME TOO. WITH MARK. AND WITH HER!
APPARENTLY YOU WEREN’T UPSET THAT I CHEATED ON YOU! YOU JUST DIDN’T LIKE MY FUNDAMENTALS OF SELF! WHAT A RELIEF!
Laura hasn’t shown up in a poster in a few months, and Mark—who Tony mainly directed his anger at in the early days of flier-posting, given Stacey was pretty chummy with Mark—had largely been written out of the story.
It Isn’t the only revelation from this set of fliers. Though most are poetic in the way much of Tony’s recent fliers have become, some give new details into Stacey’s character that even Tony admits were very unexplored.
YOU GHOSTED ME BECAUSE OF YOUR ARSON ADDICTION AND BECAUSE YOU WERE TRYING TO ESCAPE YOUR FAMILY, WHO EXPERIMENTS ON FROGS IN YOUR CONNECTICUT HOME! AND ALSO BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T LIKE ME!
NOT BECAUSE I CHEATED! VINDICATION!
This flier lists the website to which all the fliers and voicemails have been uploaded so far.
IT’S ALMOST LIKE YOU HAD A WHOLE INNER LIFE COMPLETELY UNEXPLORED BY THE PLOT OF THIS STORY (“No but it’s fully true, though!” Ollivier Yamin said on Dec .21.)
Tony’s out. He doesn’t see the point in letting his buffoonery continue—STACEY IT TURNS OUT I SEVERELY MISINTERPRETED THE SERIOUSNESS OF OUR LOVE AFFAIR—but he doesn’t know how to end it. A part of him wants Stacey to finish the story for him; he writes in a flier, because he’s sure she can do a better job than him.
I KNOW NOW YOU’LL NEVER RESPOND, AT LEAST, NOT IN A WAY I’LL UNDERSTAND.
NOT IN A WAY THAT FEELS FINISHED. LIFE ALWAYS FEELS UNFINISHED.
So, he writes an ending for himself. Maybe he realized all his fliers started with Stacey’s name. Maybe he got whiplash from learning so many different details about Stacey’s life in such quick succession. Maybe he now feels silly about the whole thing.
I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT ANY OF THIS!
IT TURNS OUT, I DON’T REALLY MATTER, IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF YOUR LIFE!
THIS IS VALID
But Tony, after all, became a person—on his own.
I HAD TO LEARN, I AM STILL SOMEBODY, EVEN WHEN I AM NOT TALKING TO YOU.
Ollivier-Yamin would routinely wake up at the crack of dawn and carpet whole streets with fliers in at-times freezing weather. It was at once a prank, an outlet for her own insecurities, and a way to connect with others. Eventually, it grew to the point where she had more people watching than she could measure.
But taking stock of it all, she said she saw “Stacey” in two ways: as a small passion project “based around my little neighborhood,” and a larger narrative that made an impact.
It was a delicate balance of intimacy and community, which, in a way, was the point of it all.
She recalled an interaction she had after presenting her project to BU’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program in October. Someone approached her and said, according to her, “The Stacey project was one of the few times I felt there was community on campus.”
It’s a sentiment that wasn’t lost among some of Stacey’s most devout followers.
Months after Ollivier-Yamin put up the first round of “Stacey” fliers, Carson Paradis and 12 other students founded a religion called “Staceyanity” for an intro to religion class they were taking at BU. They’d seen the fliers and asked themselves the same questions others were asking and built their creation myth around that mystery.
“It’s weird,” Paradis said. “Through the whole thing, I found that people are very interested in the unknown. They’re very interested in finding things they’re not 100% certain of.”
It’s not like huge crowds of people huddled around poles staring at the Stacey fliers—people rarely stopped to read them at all.
But some do. Walking from somewhere to somewhere else, they’ll stop, read, smile a little, maybe take a photo, and then keep walking.