I’m Reading Last Year’s Papers

Although I Don’t Know Why,

G wrote that his gym had been turned into a morgue, with 15 refrigerated semitrucks lined up in front. I lept back from the screen and immediately fired off a reply with the subject line:

You Go To A Gym?

This was my first clue that maybe I was unable to focus on the matters at hand. I try to hold the morgue/gym in my head, but an
entire corner of it is taken up with G’s autonomic extra-medium metabolism. You mean it isn’t true he hasn’t changed a bit in 15
years? What part of him was he trying to whip into shape? And since when do playwrights work out? What do they think while they… tread? spin? curl? master the stair? I literally shake my head to reestablish the gym/morgue, and, well, it looks just like the regular gym. Dozens of times I’ve been loading my gear into the car after the gig in view of some beacon-lit 3am workout panoramic window zoo, and screamed at them, since they can’t see or hear me in the dark outside their fourth floor treadmills:

You Are Running Towards Death!

My Before the Horror Era sardonic invocation of A Thousand Clowns now mocks me as more blocking, if not complete treason.

G continued. I know, Damn. Here: the rescue dogs were so overwhelmed with the smell of human flesh that they just sat down and whimpered. This kind of made me blink hard, as if hard blinking might shoo away the image that was trying to leave the page and get into my eyes and infect my brain.

No luck, so I told someone about it. Why? So we could be brain infected together? That person had a lot more information about the dogs: their special nose-washing stations, the ones flown in from the mid-west, the price tag for training one of them, their life expectancy. I switched from hard blinking to soft, intermittent drooping. As the recitation of factoids reverberated into a murmuring lullaby, I fell into

My wordless slumber.

When M made it back from Florida, I was seized with joy. Normally I would have enveloped M and done that little thing at the end of the embrace that transgressed the professional boundary:

  1. pressed the wind gently out of her lungs, which would have had an aggressive message, really: “Don’t You Ever Leave Again”; or
  2. spread my fingers over the thin small blades in her back, which you might do to confirm someone is real, when you’re in a psychoactive state… which I was, but not in the way one normally arrives there: “Let Universal Love Vibe Ascend Now”

Get this: I shook M’s hand.

I did this because she’s from the East Coast and she hates the open california showing of the love thing. She’s suspicious of high fives,
unconscious leaning, elbow-guiding and arm squeezes, much less the huggeriffic greetings that pepper our daily existence: her nightmare. I love her, an idea that surprised even me that morning, and so I did what would make her comfortable: a warm and strong, but not too grippy, handshake.

When it came time to let go I fixed her eyes for a beat first, then let go and returned to my physical area vis a vis her physical area. I couldn’t stop myself from asserting my message, I reflected with a small measure of guilt which steadily grew. What does love mean? What does it want us to do?

No answer, so I told someone about it. Oh! my person went on, I was about to burst into tears when I saw she was back home safely, but I know what she’s about. Instead I asked her if she had lost weight, which I know pleased her no end. Same same, no?
I leaned back from the conversation and looked around, just to re-anchor in the moment, to realize what we just done did.

And what it does to us as we do.

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