I woke this morning and checked my twitter account. A couple of new follows and, what’s this? An @ reply from Susan Orlean.
Susan Orlean, the same woman who wrote a book about Rin Tin Tin that I fondled in a bookstore in Montpelier, VT this past weekend. I didn’t buy it. It was $26.99 and I’m unemployed and poor. Instead I opted for a slim Pema Chodron book about confronting your fears. But Susan Orlean laughed at me. Pema Chodron wouldn’t laugh at me.
Ha times three. Two exclamation points. She could have written just one “Ha,” and no exclamation. She didn’t need to write back at all! The effort she took, to write three! A trinity of Ha! And TWO exclamation points. I was in ecstasy.
I looked back at what I had written to her last night. I commented on a picture she had posted. I looked again at the photo. I thought of Susan Orlean laughing at me. I closed my eyes and dropped off into a reverie as I imagined being with her as she took the photo.
We’re walking down Brighton Way together, my arm around her slender waist. I have no idea why I’m in L.A. because I’m a walking city/cold weather kind of guy. I can only imagine that I’ve been summoned there by Susie. She knows I’m married, and heck, twenty years her junior, but I know that’s what attracts her to me. She is, afterall, a powerbroker, and I’m sure there have been countless “boys” like myself along the way, servicing her. I’m trying to come to terms with this, thinking deep thoughts about my position in her life when she comments on the sunset.
“Isn’t it pretty?” she says.
She takes her iPhone, snaps a shot, and shows it to me.
I bend down to look at it and when I do so, her wispy hair gets caught in my beard. I take a sniff. She smells of Thieves. I even extend my tongue just a bit to take a little taste. Bananas. Weird. Wasn’t expecting that…
“If only the sunset wasn’t detracting from the simple beauty of the Citibank sign,” I say.
Susan Orlean laughs lightly. “You’re so funny,” she says as she gives my ass a hard slap.
She tweets her photo and then says she has to go. Wilco concert.
Wilco. Can’t believe they’re still putting out music. “Great band!” I say. I know she’s going with her husband and I feel a pang of jealousy, but then I know she’ll be back in NY again soon to promote the Rin Tin Tin book.
“God,” I think. “You really have to make it to write a book about Rin Tin Tin…”
“Wait,” I say, as she steps into her limo. “When will I see you again?”
But before Susie can respond, my wife barges into the office and I’m thrust back into reality.
“What’s that? she says, referring to the picture on my screen. “Oh, it’s just a picture of a sunset. Susan Orlean posted it last night. The famous writer? I commented on it and then she replied to me. She thought my comment was funny, can you believe that?”
Judy ignores this and says, “Well, since you’re not busy, can you brush Tilly’s hair?”
Tilly walks in. “Daddy, guess what shirt I’m wearing today.” And then, without skipping a beat, “Hey, you peeked!”
“No! Wait!” I say. “You just walked into my line of sight!”
“No, you peeked!” Tilly starts to cry. Judy shoots me a glance and walks out, tossing the brush at me.
Feeling somewhat like Francis Weed, I pull the knots out of my daughter’s hair. I’m good at brushing women’s hair now, and I think again of Susan Orlean. What a beautiful name. Susan Orlean. So many long vowels. She’s a redhead. I drop back into my imagination…
She’s sitting at the edge of her bed, fully clothed. I’m kneeling on the bed behind her, naked, brushing her hair. She’s going on about the history of war dogs in WWI. It’s interesting enough, but I’m more concerned with trying to keep my stomach from growling. I’m starving and she hasn’t let me eat in hours. She has, to put it mildly, an insatiable sexual appetite.
My imagination jumps foward a year. We’re at a dinner party together, me and Susie. New York. We’re drinking white wine and having a conversation of sorts. But since I’m broken socially, it’s halting and awkward. It’s okay, Susie accepts that about me. She understands awkward conversations are what I do best. She understands me as an artist.
I have a new book coming out, about nothing. About being awkward. I hope people will laugh at it but chances are it’ll fill them with pity. It’s going to fail. But it’s not due out for a few weeks and as far as this group of literary types are concerned, I’m still full of possibility. Susie is introduciing me to all her friends. I think about a piece James Atlas wrote years ago. It was called “The Fall of Fun.” It was about how calculating literary types have become. No more Bacchanalia. No more drunken mistakes.
Apparently James Atlas hasn’t met Susie. She’s wasted and I know what’s coming. She booked a hotel room. It’s going to be a long night.
My daughter yowls. I’ve been brushing her hair for a good 15 minutes. It’s overbrushed and full of static. Judy is yelling at me from the bottom of the stairs to hurry the fuck up.
“I’m sorry,” I yell down the stairs. “I lost track of time.”
“Feh,” she says.
Driving my daughter to school I wonder if Susan Orlean will like my kids. At school dropoff I see a friend. He asks what’s up, and I play it cool. I don’t tell him that Susan Orlean laughed at me.
“Still looking for a job?” he asks. There’s a strong hint of schadenfreude in his voice.
“Yeah,” I say, “but I have a couple of leads.”
I smile. The day is full of possibility.
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