My first childhood crush was a boy who lived next door named Lance, a name I have only heard on soap operas since then, but that I really like given its rather dramatic sound and the fact that it is also a verb. Our first date, if you will, consisted of me accompanying his mother to watch him play basketball. Lance's team lost, and when he walked to the locker room before the long ride home in their VW van, his mother said to me, You have to be really nice to him since his team lost. Boys don't take losing well. I did not know it at the time, but truer words were never spoken. Lance pouted a bit as we jostled in the back of the van. His mother, although a sage in matters of the heart, was a terrible driver. I felt bad that Lance had lost the game, but I was thrilled to be riding home with him all the same, even as we narrowly avoided death or car sickness from hitting so many potholes. I made him laugh a few times, and the pouting ended. I began to see my niche for all eternity -- cheerleader for the damned.
There are a lot of people who say that failure is a gift. If so, I'd like to return it for something a little different -- compassion or wisdom or, barring those options, a nice fondue set. But I suppose there's something about being forced to accept that some losses are inevitable, permanent, absolute. Once in high school, an English teacher asked us what we liked about the idea of death. This was my kind of classroom! No subject proved too bleak. I said that it gave value to everything else, that without an end, all things lost their luster. Someone else said the the idea of death was one thing, but the reality probably sucked. Most of us had lost small things already and had already begun to feel nostalgic for them. What we didn't know was that this feeling of being homesick, for wanting what was already fleeting, well, that would never end, that our lives would be defined by what we were and would never be again.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"With dynasties of negative constructions darkening and dying all around you . . please come flying." Elizabeth Bishop
Drinking short story collection suggestion: Without Feathers Woody Allen
Benedictions and Maledictions