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

Cocktail Hour

Drinking movie suggestion: Map of the Human Heart

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Birthday to my dear friend Tim! And happy first snow in Detroit!

22 comments:

The Cineast said...

Whenever I read about Hank I think of the Woody Allen line: Don't think of being dead as a handicap. Woody's death in "Scoop" was off camera, kind of like Hank's. Both kind of freaky, though. Accidental.

Oscar winner said...

Speaking of "Scoop," Esquire named Scarlett J. as the sexiest woman alive for '06. Not surprising. Had my eye on her since "Matchpoint." Wouldn't mind her walking out of the second room. Not a bit.

Truman Capote said...

Other voices, other rooms.

E.M. Forster said...

A room with a view.

David Rabe said...

In the boom boom room.

Special said...

Romper Room.

Virginia Woolf said...

A room of one's own.

Edward Albee said...

Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?

AP said...

Nobody who's not scared of a ghost in the other room.

Arthur Koestler said...

But what about the ghost is the machine?

Henrik Ibsen said...

What about "Ghosts"?

James Joyce said...

I had an essay published on Ibsen when I was nineteen.

Short bus said...

I had my first comment published when I was nineteen.

JLCGULL said...

Michelle had her first story published when she was nineteen. Something about a dead kid in another room. Spooky.

AP said...

Today's "Quote of the Day": Are we nothing but a parade of piffling harlots and T-bone steaks?--Poe Ballantine.

Mystery Shopper said...

A good T-bone at Krogers goes for about $14. Look for the special yellow sale tag for a reduced rate on all Kroger quality meats. Happy Halloween and Go Tigers!! Woo Hoo Two in a Row!!

paul said...

O Mighty Isis thats true there is always some place worse. But there is notjhing better than my Foxy Detroit Lady! R2 C2! Tigers!

JR's Thumbprints said...

Your post really made me think about mortality. I'm actually a very shy person, and I'll tell you something--I'm definitely not ready to enter that second room.

On a different note, how about sharing a picture of a childhood Halloween costume. Please, please, please.

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle, another lovely view and post as always. The Tigers game will be chilly tomorrow but it will be worth a little suffering I am convinced. I have a better idea on new views. How about you posing in various Halloween costumes in the now. I still think about the Medusa ones often, the recent posts especially. To the Tigers and to you lovely Michelle, Bravo!

Edward Weston said...

Your photos are marvelous, Michelle. So imaginative and provocative. Even without nudity.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Jim and John,

Thanks for the Halloween suggestion for pictures. I'll have to see what I can find. And AP, I agree with the Scarlett J. title. She's pretty great.

Sheila said...

hmmm I like the idea of a second room. Very mysterious indeed