Nah, I'm not gonna retitle that. That rocks.
So my head's unscrewed & I'm just gonna say the two sides of it aren't working together functionally today (or any day lately, or possibly any day hereafter), like Kim Peek of Rain Man inspiration fame, who had no corpus callosum which is what ties the two brain hemispheres together (did you know?) and but although it took some things from him, like social adroitness (familiar!) it also allowed him to do things like spot count hundreds of dropped toothpicks (oh alright, Dustin Hoffman did that. Probably a fiction) but anyway he definitely could read the two separate pages of an open book simultaneously, and take in the info on each. I cannot do this.
However. I am about to tell two stories that although they come from the same book (my weird life) have zip in common and are a terrible match to tell together, but my deep brain is shoving them both to the surface at once so I know there's a reason, and maybe I'll figure it out later, by the end of this post. It happens.
First things, unfortunately, first.
When I was living in St Paul with Bel, she had a younger friend from her home town come for a visit: Scarolina Rob. Rob from Scarolina. Bel was working a lot and I hung out a lot with the kid. He wasn't a kid though. He was a teenage mad/genius. He gave me a NOFX tape (White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean) and a red plaid spiked leather bracelet of his, which I once tore the apartment up looking for when it was lost, and worried everyone had stolen it, only to find it again and which I still have, one of my very most prized possessions. There is no better gift than a thing someone takes literally off their person and straight gives to you to put on yourself. Nothing.
[side bar: when I was working at First Avenue in, eh, maybe 1998, I was working the door and Grant Hart came in wearing a plaid clip on bow tie. I barely knew him. "Nice tie, Grant!" I said. He took it off and gave it to me. Needless to say this lives in a small "most special shit" box.]
So Rob gave me a few things, told me some stories, we traipsed around. Friends for a week, but fast friends. One of his stories was about dropping acid around town (somewhere in S.carolina) and to tell me the story he punctuated the "took acid" bit by tearing a tiny piece of paper and putting it on his tongue as he talked. (mind blown)
The next year, Rob took his life.
We were living back in the dorms. A mutual friend (of mine/Bel's) found me in the elevator en route to dinner and said "I was looking for you. You have to come console Bel. Rob blew his brains out and–" everything went fucking black.
Hey, whoever you are, reading this: if it ever befalls you that you're tasked with breaking the news of someone's suicide to a person you think didn't know that person very well so what the heck, might as well blurt it out however? DO NOT.
Nobody slept that night. I had quit smoking and started smoking again, very much. A lot. Bel had a ferret in her dorm room and I remember it had gotten into some yeast infection cream. What the fuck. We all went mad. Crying, laughing. Silent, in shock.
A week later I sat in the dining hall with a few people I reaaallly liked, but didn't know well, and just started crying. Some hip hop characters, who I thought were kinda out of my league (years later I would go out with one of them, and when a friend was driving us home, at his place he lured me in by saying "Kate, I think you left your Holly Hobby lunchbox at my place earlier" which is – sorry, I know this story is busy being a tragedy, but that's when humor is the most important tbh – the BEST PICKUP LINE EVER UTTERED. I once got a guy to go out with me by answering his "no, I don't want a soda. I'm watching my figure" with the ridiculous "I'll watch it for ya" but this, this puts every person's best most ridiculous date story TO THE SHAMEST OF SHAMES)
Wow. Where was I?
Somewhere in the short time that transpired between these two main events (Rob sticking paper in his mouth to tell the acid story and his death) I had moved from Bel's apartment into an apartment in the identical building next door (although it was further down the hall, and OF COURRRRSE almost immediately I walked downstairs to get the mail and then let myself into the wrong apartment, OOPS,,, back out quietly...) where so many of us lived there in a two room apartment (among us, two couples: myself + Matt Sawicki, who famously once said to me on the phone "Dennis got knifed! oh wait, there's a call on the other line" and Eric + Heather) that we all had an arrangement to go out "shopping" when the others needed privacy. So one day Matt, Terry, and myself had gone to I dunno where, shopping. We came home and from the back room heard the most raucous, RIDICULOUS orgasm noises we could even conceive (ding!) – "oh, god, oh god, OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD" we just, we cracked up so hard & all thought the same thing at once: it's fake. They're doing it for our amusement, and TOUCHÉ, this is the best fucking joke any of us have ever heard. Dying.
Then it got quiet, and Heather came out of the room, surprised to see us, and died of embarrassment. Eric followed, sweaty. Matt said "wait, that was real?? We all thought it was fake, like, a sex fish story." then pointedly, to Eric:
"WE DIDN'T BELIEVE YOU UNTIL WE SAW THE FISH."
Now look. It's nearly inconceivable that all these things have happened, right? That I bore witness to all of this magic? This chaos?
I promise you. There is this much intensity in the world around you, around everyone. There's just a whole other art in the remembering and the retelling. The love of the story is (also) the story.
You. YOU. Are part of somebody else's story. You can tell it yourself however you want. But meanwhile someone else is bearing witness. And they might TELL IT FUNNIER THAN YOU.
Anyway, you've changed them; you are part of their story now.
This is how to live forever. This is how.
Ok, here we are, the monsters at the end of this book. What's the conclusion, Kate?
WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KENNETH??
I feel a little put on the spot now, like I'm trying to wrap up a Hannah Gadsby standup routine. I promised you some tragedy, I promised you some comedy, and I promised you they would tie together in a crazed little knot at the end.
Imagine if I had told the Rob story in a vacuum. Right? The other stories cushion it so it doesn't sink you.
Everything in its right place.