"Those kids woulda got their asses handed to them in my neighborhood."
--Baby MamaI just got off the phone with my pal Lucy who was very put out with me, and by way of introduction, it might be best to explain that Lucy is not her name -- it's just the affectionate title we bestowed on her many years ago, because it is short for Lucifer.
(Just as everyone knows Banjo is not my name, and it's not my real nickname from college either, which only a select few -- like Lucifer -- know. Trust me. She's not talking. The initial banjo story goes back to a concert Greg and I attended a few years ago, where I was very dramatically upset with the substitution of a banjo for a fiddle, and via a long series of reviews in print and online, it became what Greg refers to as the "banjo qua banjo" episode.) It is an excellent way to RSVP for a party. ["Beat it, Hoi Polloi. This seat's taken!" Pictured is the signage from my viewing spot at an event last night.]
The reason Luce was upset with me was because we hadn't talked for a few weeks and she assumed, erroneously -- from the blog -- that she hadn't heard from me because some gentlemen callers were otherwise occupying my attention. "Oh, I know you're all tied up over there with your Bobby Donut and all..." adding, "I'm not judging," and then amending that to, "well, even if I didn't approve, I still wouldn't judge."
What? Who?...Bobby Donut? And then she reminded me that she reads the blog every single day, and knew perfectly well what I'd been up to (despite the fact that those guys constitute only a few "episodes" from the last few weeks).
Sometimes, the version my friends come away with is not the version I think I've written about. It's sort of like how writer Larry David plays "Writer Larry David" on Curb Your Enthusiasm -- there may be a strong resemblance, but there's also a lot of improv and obfuscating to protect the innocent too. (Except I'm not rich, and I wouldn't drive a Prius, and a few other things.)
Linda was just reminiscing about the Storm of 94 the other night, and then rambled off about "what was that story about the gloves?" I don't know. I didn't remember anything special about gloves. "Remember," she insisted (and I still didn't), "we were all at the movies, and you lost your glove, or maybe he gave you his gloves, or bought you some gloves..." Then she recalled it might or might not even have been that guy; it could've been an entirely different guy, and a different year. "Maybe ...Steve?" (As if that narrows the field. At all.) She went on at some length, and it sounds like it would've probably been a very romantic story if either one of us had had the slightest idea what she was talking about.
At any rate, Lucy was complaining about feeling neglected, and I had to explain to her -- in no detail at all -- that I have two friends who are going through tough times, and that's what I've been up to. I couldn't tell her who. Because I value their privacy. And I couldn't tell her what. So I left it at "famine, flood, plague, and pestilence" because that's what I could remember from the Bible. They're how I've been spending most of my time, I just can't write about any of it.
To which Lucy responded incredulously, "Whatttttttt? There are things you don't write about?!" And I had to remind her, "you mean like the time you....." and I rattled off a long list of indiscretions from the past 20 years that have never seen the light of print. (Yet.)
Then she and I ambled down memory lane and a partial selection of things I don't write about and why:
- other people's diseases (unless somebody asks me to, like for a telethon or something). My parents are the four known exceptions to this. We actually have a Family Cancer Twitter (which I use when I need to update all the relatives en masse), because they are always coming down with something, at which point I am dispatched to unearth all the research ever conducted on a particular malady, and then hire (or fire) all the appropriate specialists. They are very accustomed to the fact that this will always translate as "material" and they have been known to interrupt medical procedures at moments of particular hilarity so that I can be sure to get it all down, and twitpic if need be. At my stepdad's recent surgery, I was photographing a page of his chart because I was having a hard time getting the correct spelling of all the terminology, when the anesthesiologist asked him, rather sharply, "why is she doing that?" Thinking it would be funny, my stepdad said, "Ha! She's my lawyer." When it was obvious from his reaction that the doctor didn't enjoy the same sense of humor, Pops attempted to reassure him with, "oh relax, it's just for her column." We were all a little surprised he woke up from that surgery.
- I've never written anything I know about other people's money -- their surpluses or their lack (except for the one person I know who's a billionaire, though I'm also not even sure he's still a billionaire after last year's assorted market crashes). I don't write about my friend's marriages; my friend's children (without express permission); or PMS (because that is how you end up one tick shy of a Cathy Cartoon -- although I did tell Lucy I have always thought it would be a marvelous thing to put birth-control-pill schedules on my boyfriends' iPhones, and I suspect Apple could do a very clever boyfriend marketing campaign that would involve them narrowly averting crossfire or machetes during one of their girlfriends' homicidal rages: "there's an App for that!") I also don't write about penis size. The closest exception to that was the guy who literally turned and ran away from me last month at a drinking-for-charity event. And I didn't write about it per se, but his pseudonym in the column (practically a decade ago) was "Mr. Impressive." Once I realized it bothered him, I knocked it off, though I did continue to write about Spinners, and that most certainly did not make him happy either. We both had to compromise. I maintained that policy as a good rule of thumb from then on (though thankfully that's never come up as an expression in the last 24 years and that's all I have to go on).
But I look at the ever-lengthening list sometimes and think, Man, what's left?!
And then I remind myself, there's always Ambien. And the next dog. Though I think Dogs on Ambien would be wrong.