Although I have not given him the URL, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before my husband finds this little blog of mine, as he is a smart cookie. This should inspire me to be on my best behavior; after all, if I say to him, Gary Hart-like, “Go ahead! Read it! I have nothing to hide!,” I should not be surprised if he takes me up on the offer. Furthermore, I should consider this possibility before writing a page full of sound and fury about what a shitheel he is, how he persists in doing things that make one’s blood gout out of one’s head in anger and despair for the future.
This should inspire me to be good...and yet I am compelled to be mean instead, for not only is my husband so good to me as to be positively sick-making, but he is also self-effacing to boot. He has the good manners to accept an “I love you” graciously, but once you add anything onto that, he becomes sheepish and blushy, clearly uncomfortable in the presence of so much silly love, unless he is in a piss-up mood, in which case he rolls his eyes into the back of his head, sticks his tongue out, lolls his head from side to side and makes ridiculous noises. If he visits this page and reads my bragging on him, he will become downright obnoxious, devising sneaky little psychological torture games and asking, mockingly, “are you going to put this in your blog? How about this? Huh? Huh? Nnnnnnngeeee! Am I making you crazy? Am I Dial M for Murdering you?” Not only is he obnoxious, but he also knows he’s screwing up the movie reference: it’s Gaslight, not Dial M for Murder, that he’s thinking of. He knows this, and he knows it drives me up a wall, and he insists on saying it, as he has daily for almost 12 years.
Note to Lloyd, in the event he is reading this: Dude, you are so annoying.
Lloyd is not his real name, of course. I am enjoined from ever using his real name. So it’s his own damn fault if he doesn’t like his pseud, which I created in honor of a conversation I had with two friends. We were at Telephone Bar and Grill on Second Avenue. They were drinking girl drinks. I was drinking cider, fancying myself all hard and English because I was drinking cider, but considering that it was Woodpecker, I should have been called out as the poseur (poseuse?) that I was and tossed into the gutter like Dylan Thomas.
But I digress. We drank, we drank some more, and as we started getting pleasantly-but-not-yet-obnoxiously sloppy, Meredith began to wax rapturous over Lloyd Dobbler, the hero of Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything, played by John Cusack. We oohed and ahhed and reminisced about being just-out-of-teenhood in 1988, falling deeply in thrall with Lloyd, who is smart but directionless, whose best friends are girls, who focuses his considerable intelligence, charm and kindness on the girl he loves, the beautiful-smart-insecure-driven Diane Court. We recited Lloyd’s dinner party reply to Diane’s father’s question “what do plan to do with your life? ("I don’t want to buy anything, sell anything or process anything. I don’t want to buy anything sold or processed, sell anything bought or processed or process anything bought or sold...")
“Remember when all you wanted in a guy was that he be Lloyd Dobbler?” said Meredith.
“Oh, absolutely,” I said.
“Oh, fuck off,” said Bronwyn. Normally in New York this phrase is shorthand for “let’s have an alcohol-fueled obscenity-laden fistfight,” but since Bronwyn was from London, I knew that oh, fuck off is London-speak for oh, puh-leeze. “You married Lloyd Dobbler, didn’t you?”
Note to Lloyd: Oh, fuck off.
Well, let us count the ways: While he works like a dog, always brings home the bacon and has ambitions, plans and dreams, career-wise he is not what the social-climbing striver girls in New York would consider a good earner. His skills are not manifested in his resume, but once he enters a certain work environment he proves himself both flexible and indispensible to the team. He listens to swell music, although he has never serenaded me with a boom box. He used to wear a very Lloyd-ish trenchcoat, giving it up only after being followed by store security when he went to a nice liquor store to buy me a bottle of Armagnac for my 30th birthday. He can talk all night long without talking too much, if that makes sense. He can defend himself if he is physically attacked. These are all good things, but does this make him Lloyd Dobbler, who won Diane Court’s heart by steering her around the broken glass she almost walked over in the parking lot?
Normally, I abhor abrupt transitions, but I promise that there is a point to this. When I was 12, my family got a kitten. Kitten grew up into a cat, then an old cat, then an older-than-the-hills cat. He died when I was 27, long after I had grown up and moved out, and about a year after I got married. This should all be in the natural order of things, except that our poor Smokey died a particularly cruel death, cruel to him, cruel to us, the kind of cruelty that makes you believe Depeche Mode was onto something when they sang “Blasphemous Rumours.” Smokey had grown up, as I did, in the wild hinterlands of northeastern Pennsylvania, the northern end of the Poconos, the southern end of the Catskills. Then my folks up and moved back to Philadelphia, having finally been driven mad by 20+ years in Wayne County, itching to move back to a place where you didn’t need to apologize if your family hadn’t lived in Wayne County for the past 150 years. Smokey came with them, and spent close to two years refusing to go outside, fixing my parents with a look of contempt for moving him somewhere where there were many fewer mice and garter snakes to kill. Then one day he decided he would be fine outside as long as he stayed close to the perimeter of the house. He was good with this for a year, perambulating around the house, pretending to be stalking prey but really doing his little geriatric mall-walker kitty laps.
We still don’t know why he decided to break form one chilly night in February, and head down the driveway. All we know is that he did, and that he slipped on a piece of ice and fell under the back wheel of the car that my mom was reversing out of the driveway. I will not dwell on what followed, on how he survived, and was alive when Mom rushed him to the vet, but the vet couldn’t say for sure if he could be saved, so maybe we should just end his pain, which we did. I will pass briefly over the vale of tears, of how distraught my mom was, of how my brother, 17 at the time, not only missed the cat he’d known since he was 2, but was also thrown off by how much pain our mom was in ("I just want my mom back,” he said to me on the phone, his voice filled with confusion). I will not even begin to describe how I cried twofold: tears for Smokey, who, by virtue of his age, had earned the right to die in his sleep but instead had to die in pain and fear; tears for my mom, who adored that cat, and was filled with guilt that nobody could assuage, nobody could fix. Despite my vow to go to work and be a pro, I cried, silently, all week at the office, hoping that no one would ask me what was wrong, because when I told them, you could see the look in their eyes: sure it’s a shame, but is one dead cat worth all this?
I came home from work one night, feeling sad but ready to feel better, ready for the finest mindless entertainment broadcast television could provide. On came an ad for some expensive pet-store cat food. “When you love your cat,” said the sorghum-y female voiceover, “you want to take the best care of her.” Instant, gushing, body-convulsing sobs from me, the same litany running through my head, oh my cat, oh my mom, oh my cat, oh my mom.
Lloyd sprang for the remote and changed the channel.
“What are you doing?,” I asked. “Aren’t you watching that?”
“We’ll put it back when the commercial is over,” said Lloyd.
“No, don’t be silly. I’m sorry. Put it back.”
“No, I can put it back on in a few seconds.”
“Lloyd, really,” I said. “I just have to get over it. We can’t change the channel every time a cat food ad comes on.”
“Tonight, we can,” he said. And he did, that night and every night until several weeks later, when my mom called to announce shyly that she had saved a cat from the pound, a cat that was due to be put down, a cat that had never been separated from its brother, so of course she had to get both of them, and no, they weren’t Smokey, but they’re pretty great cats nonetheless…
Does he steer me around broken glass? Damn right, he does.
Note to Lloyd: Are you still here? Aren’t you supposed to be writing something now? Don’t you have anything better to do than to sit around and read blogs all night? Get to work, Internet Boy!