Thursday, October 12, 2006
We Know There's Somewhere Worse
My friend Hank always contended that to have a successful party, you needed at least two rooms. You may only need one, but the second room implied possibility, movement, mystery. You don’t, he’d say, want to think you’ve seen every swinging dick already. Our parties in college and graduate school tended to be low-rent affairs, involving a steady set of the same swinging dicks and a few wild cards that changed from year to year to provide the drama necessary to make us feel alive. Cheap beer, tequila (El Torro! at a mere seven dollars was a favorite, the kind of liquor that comes with a red plastic hat as a lid), and all too intentional slips of the tongue that caused crying and break-ups were our staples. Our group, which Hank dubbed “the family,” had known each other in varying degrees of forever, most since high school. The core of the family had grown up in Mineral Wells, a small Texas town that boasted a decommissioned army base, an abandoned hotel that used to dispense curative waters to movie stars in the twenties, and a thriving snake population that included every poisonous variety indigenous to the United States. Whenever we complained, Hank would counter, Wherever we go, we know there’s someone worse, and I thought of this comment as his parents made arrangements to ship his body from Philadelphia to Mineral Wells, to be laid out and buried a few miles from the hotel in which he was born, two weeks before his thirty-third birthday.
I dream of Hank often, as one might expect. We promised to haunt each other – who knew it would come so soon? In my dreams, Hank and I try to get places, we hang out, talk on the phone. We are as we were, but I always know he’s dead. Sometimes we argue about the relationship, just like in life. (“You’re dead. We cannot be talking on the phone,” I’ll say, to which he will reply, “Well, we are. Talking on the phone, that is. I know I’m dead. You don’t have to tell me everything.”) His visits leave me sad, wanting more, a rule he often cited as the secret to all great performances. Make them still wish you were up there, and you’ll always get invited back. If I’m lucky, I can almost convince myself that Hank’s in that much-vaunted second room, and I wait for him to enter, so everything can start again.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Stars with masses above the Chandrasekhar limit, on the other hand, have a big problem when theycome to the end of their fuel. In some cases, they may explode." Stephen Hawking
Drinking movie suggestion: Map of the Human Heart
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Birthday to my dear friend Tim! And happy first snow in Detroit!