When I first downloaded the Duolingo app, I thought that I would quickly be fluent in French, but soon, I fell behind on lessons. It’s not that I forgot about the app… Duo, the Duolingo owl mascot, would never, ever allow that.

He started showing up in my notifications, keeping tabs on if I forgot to do my daily lessons. Like he was constantly watching. At first, it was a little weird. Maybe even threatening. But then I remembered what my mom always told me: if a boy is mean to you, he probably has a crush on you. I’m not going to lie, I was flattered! But I did already have a boyfriend. So, just to let Duo know that his advances weren’t welcome, I started to do my lessons.

After a week or so of this, I started to miss Duo’s aggressive messages. I longed to see another “Complete your 5 minute daily French lesson! Now.” Sometimes my boyfriend was too busy to talk to me, but not Duo. Duo made sure that I knew he was waiting for me to do my language lesson every day without fail. I started missing lessons every once in a while, just to hear from him.

Nothing gave me more of a thrill than when Duo showed up on my home screen. I broke things off with my boyfriend. I stopped watching porn. I wanted the Duolingo owl to know that he was the only one for me. I know that most people find his assertiveness threatening, but god, I was so turned on.

Then, one night I was losing sleep just thinking about his next slightly horrifying reminder message, longing to hear “You missed another French lesson! Are you sure you thought this through?” That’s when I decided to try finding his social media so I could slide into his DMs. I mean, he was constantly in communication with me, but I had never been able to respond! That’s how I ended up on Reddit. 

According to Duo’s page, after two days of not learning a new language, Duo comes to kill you. I had never missed two in a row! I would usually listen to his warnings after a day or so of missing lessons because I didn’t want him to be disappointed in me.  I lived to please him. And I wasn’t too worried about talking him out of murder since I know that what he and I have is special.

On night two of not learning French, I spread rose petals around my entire apartment, lit candles everywhere, and didn’t even need to ask my roommates for the place to myself since they had already moved out days ago. Once it got dark, I heard the bangs on my front door. Suddenly, it fell off the hinges, and that’s when I saw him: the silhouette of Duo in the doorway, holding a large knife.

I will never forget that – our first date. Years later, I have two beautiful kids, a very successful partner, and know 13 languages.


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