“Just let him go,” she tells me, scraping her spoon around the edge of the dish.
She says it in a “take out the trash” or “turn right at the light” kind of tone. The kind of tone that pricks every time it’s used to discuss matters of the heart.
She doesn’t know it. No, maybe she knows it but she doesn’t get it. The mind of a writer. And the truth that any writer knows: we would trade bones & blood cells for a chance to carry a person less. Stop dropping them into story lines or whistling them into love songs we have yet to write.
So I tell her simply that I am trying and change the subject.
You see, when I meet a Good Pair of Eyes, a Strong Set of Teeth, I am absolutely doomed. Doomed, doomed, doomed. Then starts some sort of lifetime and a thousand loose leaf pages worth of lining words up like soldiers, words already quivering in their marching boots, for they know they will do no sort of justice to that Good Pair of Eyes. That Strong Set of Teeth.
And let this be a warning: It’s especially worse if you are a) carrying an instrument b) toting some kind of exotic name that only shows up on the rosters of French fashion show lineups or, worst of all, c) translating a lullaby for me out of your laughter.
And if it is d) all of the above, just plop me down on the floor and I’ll accept my new eternity in scraping syllables out from under the bed, looking for a way to keep you perfect and in place with the use of Proper Punctuation.
But that’s the kind of eternity that myself and other writers might expect. I’ve always been one to tie Nouns & Verbs to Red Balloons and set them off floating into a Literary Sky. A Metaphorical Sunset. Nouns & Verbs cruising over an Alliterated Mountaintop with Allegorical Gulls Flapping Nearby.
Writers, we are the invisible hoarders of this world. The ones who stockpile Prom Memories like canned goods and pluck imagery from the fall foliage as if it were our Six Cats bound to turn into 27 Kittens by the end of December. Hopeless Hoarders who clutch a broken heart long after the other has learned to gather up the pieces and find some kind of beginning.
Don’t ask me about the weather. Don’t offer to buy me a drink. Don’t make a slight movement to prove you are different or quirky or stand out; your guts will get splattered on the pages of this girl’s notebook tonight because of that gin and tonic. Because of that partly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms.
A nervous wringing of the hands? A single dimple perched to the right?
You. Are. Doomed. Doomed, doomed, doomed.
If you tell me about the sweaters grandma used to knit, I’ll beg you to know if she used sunshine gold yarn or burgundy thread.
If you tell me about your first grade love who you used to share the crayons with, I’ll want to know her name and if Tickle Me Pink was the prize out of the 64 crayon box.
Be careful when you tell me that at the age of seven you broke your leg or that the cast was neon orange. That your first kiss came in the tree house. She was Korean. That you’ve never learned to like the taste of pickles or that you still wonder if law school was the right choice.
Maybe ask me in advance if I already know the ending for us, if it’s already touched down on fresh paper before you talk about grandma or the crayon box. It could save you all the trouble in the world to know already, upon our first hand shake, that the very last line of the story reads just so:
He had a Good Pair of Eyes and a Strong Set of Teeth and she was already looking for ways to keep him in her memory. Perfectly placed in her memory.It would be November, she decided it would be November. November would be the month she’d begin to carry the lullaby of his laughter less.