Monday, January 22, 2018

Half of Every Loving Couple Will One Day Leave the Other

Nothing I have ever posted on the social media was as widely admired as my description of an elderly couple salsa-dancing behind the bandstand, out of sight of other merrymakers, one early spring evening three years ago at Farmers Market in Los Angeles. I found the outpouring of enthusiasm for the little vignette I’d written hardly less heartening than the couple so palpably adoring each other, and so enjoying in each other’s company. 

That’s the exquisite part. The terrifying, hideous part is that half of every loving couple will one day leave the other— in many cases not only alone, but also ancient, debilitated, and terrified. 

I have always thought (and, in a way, hoped) that my own ticket will be punched before Dame Zelda’s, but in the past several weeks, have found myself imagining what might happen if, God forbid, I survive her, and it's occurred to me that the time to start making provisions for being left alone in a far-off foreign land (not that I’ve been able to think of the USA as my country since Donald Trump became president) might be right now. Over the weekend, I composed the following (which I hope never to have to put it on line) for

I have never enjoyed filling out profiles such as this one, as I’m not one to talk about myself LOL, but here goes! I am [my age at the time of my bereavement], and in very good physical condition, as I haven’t smoked tobacco (I smoke either cannabis or opium nightly, depending on what’s available) since Memorial Day 1976. It has been years since a stranger in an airport thought I must be a rock star he couldn’t quite place and demanded my autograph LOL, but I do my best to maintain what little physical allure I have left. I drink only in moderation, and walk a few miles and lift weights daily. I am 6-1 and weigh six pounds more than on the day I graduated from Santa Monica High School in 1954, though I may not be remembering the year accurately.

I’ve got a couple of saggy bits that I’ll let you discover on your own LOL, but my chest is firm from weight-lifting. I may appear deeply cynical, but, deep down, pure mush. I never forget a slight — or a kindness. I like people in theory, but commonly not so much in practice. I enjoy solitude, but am subject to immobilising feelings of isolation and loneliness. I’m rather hard work that way, and in many others LOL. For instance, sometimes I get so depressed that I can barely breathe, let alone speak. I may be rather too fond of my own sense of humour. I commonly make myself giggle (and, to be fair, gurgle) a lot at night after I’ve had my cannabis, but many find my sense of humour weird or even upsetting, so I’ll let you decide for yourself LOL. 

My Ideal Match, hereinafter IDM, will get my jokes, and will be happy to greet me in provocative attire when I get home from my daily traipse. I especially like fetishwear, immoderately high heels, and dramatic makeup. As I come in through the door, I would like her to purr sultrily,“See anything you like, handsome?” and cross her long legs, well, tauntingly LOL. (Naturally, if I’m not in the mood for sex, she’ll sense that’s the case, and not bring it up, and did you see what I did there LOL?) Immediately following coitus, she’ll hasten in her impractical footwear into the kitchen to make me a delicious dinner. I like Japanese, Indonesian, Thai, Spanish, Mexican, French, and Indian cuisine, approximately in that order, and haven’t eaten a fellow mammal since 1978.

When I am writing a novel or short story, IDM will say repeatedly, “I can’t wait to read it!” Indeed, I will overhear her telling her friends on the phone how much she’s looking forward to it. When she does actually read it, she will frequently shake her head, remove her reading glasses, and marvel, “This is just so, so good, Johnny! It’s absolutely criminal that the likes of John Grisham and Dan Brown have huge audiences while you grow ever more ancient in obscurity.”

I would of course expect comparable exultation for my music. IDM will be moved to actual tears by my more poignant, non-ironic songs, and never fail to comment on how inventive and irresistible the melodies of the more antic songs are. (When I actually work harder on the tunes on which they ride, I seethe with resentment when people seem to notice only my lyrics). If she compares me to someone, it won’t be someone I admired 45 years ago, and have long since stopped admiring, but Richard Rodgers, perhaps, or Cole Porter. About my singing she will say, approximately, “Well, your pitch can be dodgy, but you phrase so interestingly that it more than makes up for it!”

She will not scoff at my having drawn the line at mammals, and continued to eat fish and fowl. 


  1. This is a subject that haunts me at the darkest hour. My mother and I thought my uptight dad would be gone long before her, she of a family of remarkable longevity. She would be sad, but stoic. My mom was,like, really smart. LOL An engineer, actually. A White Sands engineer, that kind of smart. And a reader, and a brailler, and a philosopher. And she was gone before my dad.
    That taught me one thing, the huge things in life do not work out the way you expect. My dad was sad, but he was o.k.
    I guess. I don't know really because I never talked deeply to him about his loss, because that's who I am.
    The punishment I deserve for sliding on the ice in this life is for the person I love the most to go first. Anyway, I don't want them to be sad, so they can go first.

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