Into every life, a little rain must fall. So bring some olives . . and vermouth.
She could write the starch into a martini with the kind of intuitive manipulation of words and space only a born writer comes to know. And for the rest of the summer after my visit to the windy city, I tried to keep up with her wicked divinity as if I had a chance. I’d never tried to match wits with a writer before she came along, but I couldn’t help myself. She was larger than life when she got to hammering away, making copper laced pastries out of the penny for her thoughts and platinum out of tinfoil minutiae. And when she went deep, she was Mary Shelley in knee high boots. I wrote like a maniac but really, I was playing checkers.
She was playing chess.
The Gorilla was an ass kicking mosh pit of a freak show by now. We had t-shirts made up for the local bars, we had a sparring match with some loose change writer who trashed us in a piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer’s website, and we started talking up a podcast. Having the Dame frequent our place mattered more than any of it. For me. Dan didn’t mind in the least since she brought followers. Smart minded peeps who were eager to peek in on the unlikeliest of lovebirds singing their misbegotten songs of love in between rants about parking lot hegemony, Westboro Baptist bumper stickers and Panic at the Disco sex.
As with every love gone wrong song, there were warning signs. Some were post-it-notes while others were banners, and then further along, the shit went full neon. Early on, it was a harmless series of speed bumps that, standing alone, were like zits on a moon beam. Stuff like . . how agitated she became when I took my kids to Disney World shortly after returning from Chicago. And later on, when she used my term- harsh my mellow– rather pointedly, in a post. And how she would call me by my last name whenever she got pissed at me.
The more rodeos you’ve been involved in, the more adept you become at wrangling up the meaning of the most seemingly innocuous circumstance. And it doesn’t hurt one little bit when you’ve been raised by women who taught you the formula. For example: Using my term- harsh my mellow– in an obviously derisive manner was a passive aggressive jab at my super cool (pretend) veneer. See, certain phrases center my room, much the same way that rug did for the Dude in The Big Lebowski. And the last name thing? It’s roll call, Boss Cop stuff. These weren’t warning signs so much as pesky little drips, but for the purpose of context Imma call them the post-it-notes stage. We’d not yet graduated to banners and neon. We were in love, after all.
By the fall, Dan was contemplating taking a break from writing on the blog. Never mind that we were directly inside the eye of a hurricane that hadn’t achieved jack shit yet. My particular opinion was Thank Fucking Christ, since he wasn’t contributing in any kind of meaningful way. Shit, the fucking guy wanted a podcast while we were still burnishing a destination. And he’d started chatting up a brand spanking new look that he and his asshole friend Richie had been working up for the blog.
To that point, me and Dan had navigated the appreciable divide that separated us quite well. We did so by creating a satire hotel, replete with low class amenities whose peculiar renderings both shocked and amazed our visitors to such an extent that we developed a healthy following. But the truth of the matter was, me and Dan weren’t friends in the “I’ll help dig the ditch for your mistake” sense. He was NRA and I was NWA. He was military documentaries and I was a romantic comedy junkie. He was a half ass writer impressed with our numbers while I was a writer impressed with writers who gave a fuck about writing.
I wrote Dan a tongue in cheek come back soon post in early September and then little more than a week later I followed it up with a post celebrating our 300,000th hit. That one was my door, hitting his stupid ass on the way out. I wanted to score another 100 thousand hits before he decided to come back, just to shut him up.
“You do insane numbers,” Dame said to me one night while we were chatting up life’s box scores over Sams on a phone call whilst watching a movie together.
This woman was an IV drip of Carly Simon Kung-Fu Theater. She could turn a simple word into a plum bath, and she was talking to me about numbers that didn’t count for anything. So I told her what I really felt as if I was stepping foot onto Venus, with sandals and a 3-wood.
I told her she was the medulla to my oblongata, the Cher to my Sonny and I told her how I wanted to fly her in a Winnebago all the way to Kathmandu. And okay, so I didn’t say it that very way. But I felt it, more strongly than that. Because the blog and her notorious ex-husband and the distance of seven hundred and eleven miles that separated us didn’t mean a blessed fig newton to me. All that was ever going to matter to me was the smile that launched me into orbit every time it looked my way.
And then the banners made the scene, with the neon glow of something wicked trailing close behind. And then November turned to rain. And that’s just the way it goes sometimes. You get all dressed up in this magic carpet ride of a future, and the next thing you know?
There’s nowhere else to go.