Thursday, December 23, 2004

A Witty Exchange Between Two Very Civilized Men, One of Them Having Decided Not to Sue the Other

I sent Famous Writer an email -- lots of concern with just a little grovel -- to see how he's doing after fainting at our little holiday party. (First-time readers need only scroll down the rabbit hole to get up to speed.) He says he's fine, that his doc says that just as sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and an espresso is just a cup of overconfident coffee, sometimes you just faint: Don't worry, be happy.

And he said, no he wasn't offended about my planning to profit from his death, if indeed he had stayed down for the count, by selling shards of the One True Wineglass that shattered as he fell to earth. (Well, nothing shattered. He fell as graceful as a leaf. There is no aftermarket for this event so I can tell the truth.) And, of course, he acknowledged our house would have become a kind of secular shrine:

I'm cognizant of the prestige increment it would have brought you.
My biographer would surely have wanted to interview you. There would
indeed be pilgrimages, even as there are each year to the grave of E.A.
Poe outside Baltimore. (I am invited each year to that one but have not
found the occasion to be that far east at such times.) Fans who rang
your bell after placing ribbons and teddy bears on your lawn would want
to know all the details, and I do hope you would have obliged them with
an ever-increasing panoply of anecdota. ("We were just getting going on
the objective correlative in the early novels of Robert A. Heinlein
when....") ("He had just begun to improvise a series of Sanskrit
limericks when he turned very pale and....") ("A question about whether
it is permissible to use late Latin verb-forms when translating
Ostrogothic sestinas caught his attention, and he turned to deal with
the matter when....") It would have been the least you could do for my
memory, in return for the enormous value of my attaching you and Eydie to my biography in that fashion.

And I wrote back:

I think had you expired I would have given your biographer something meatier, such as, "Knowing him to be expert in autoerotic asphyxia, I felt little anxiety when, the neck of the bottle of a fine single-barrel bourbon clasped in one hand, he put the other to his throat and with surprising strength..."

And he wrote back:

I actually knew one autoerotic asphyxiator, the underground artist Vaughn Bode, who succeeded in doing himself in that way circa 1975 at the age of 32 or so. I have yet to make my first experiments in that direction, but I'm young yet, and Saturday's events have warned me that I better get around to everything I haven't gotten around to before the ultimate blackout arrives. I intend to begin by wrapping a washcloth over my face and see where it goes from there. Cautious as ever. Incidentally, it's a good thing Eydie called 911. I would never have done it myself and, since I felt normal again so soon, would probably have vetoed the idea if I had been conscious when it came up. I am whatever the opposite of a hypochondriac is and usually spurn such elaborate medical attention. But the information they provided was useful both to me and to my doctor in assessing what had really happened (ie not very much) and if they had not been on hand so fast to give me an EKG reading etc. we would all now be guessing about the severity of the thing. Instead we know that it was a momentary and probably inexplicable blackout but that it had no consequences of a nature lasting beyond that moment.

So, here is the life lesson in all of this. (Life lessons are like pornography, hard to define, easy to recognize and widely available on the internet):

An Ode to 911
by Michael Robertson
Written in His 61st Year

When your guests start collapsing
And everybody's talking.
Let your lungs do the screaming
While your fingers do the walking.

Wait. That makes no sense. The point is that you don't have to look up 911. That's the whole point. It's ... 911.

Oh Rhyme, you glib bitch goddess.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We're a little surprised and hurt that we weren't invited to your party. I won't say who I am out of pride, but my wife and I thought of ourselves as close enough to be part of that merrie company. Oh, well. Not to worry. May you burn in hell.