The Negative One, also: Lessons in Not Writing

What were plans for Saturday dissolved into feet propped up on a second story balcony, several beers, and deeply rooted truths kicked back and forth. A whole lot of trust. Easy moments and difficult confessions made less so because eventually you get to that point where you’ve drilled deep enough into your friendship that any sort of “I told you so,” gets left out of the conversation. Another Best Time Ever to mark the first harvest festival of the year. More beer. The couple on the picnic table below hearing our laments about how we lacked a chess board.

This was two weeks ago. Things change at the drop of a dime, and I realize that’s cliche — but this summer’s turned into a mottled composition of bad puns, well-timed jokes, and clusterfucks of immaculate conception that are only understood when you’ve shared enough. Done enough. Seen enough together.

I woke up today thinking I wouldn’t write this post, but when you’ve got your shoulders smashed up against a windowpane and edging out of view anyway: whatever.

You people, I need to tell you this:

I’ve been buddies with this guy for a few years. We’ve argued and called each other names and hugged out our bad times. We abbreviated our answers to each other because we were both so pissed at one another that for a month every conversation was clipped. We’ve actually become so in sync with our response when other people ask us if it was ever “a thing” that we both respond the same way at the same time, and it’s actually hysterical that the same old questions keep coming up. (It’s always a “No,” for those of you reading.) We’ve tag-teamed our bosses and won arguments like two pro wrestlers. I dropped his coffee mug into the deep end of the pool once, and eventually helped him fish it out because he promised swift retribution. (He meant it too.)

He’s been my best friend and worst enemy. He’s a handsome motherfucker, and I still maintain that given the opportunity, I might hit his former paramour should she ever show up in front of me. (For various reasons, but mostly because it’s acceptable for a girl to crack another girl in the face and not a guy. I mean, you can deliver a fair slapping to a dude, but for a dude to do that to a girl with any sort of self-possession she will take your balls. Mount them like trophies.) He’s not that horrible, but we’ve never executed on a slap-bet so. We just suit up. High-five. Fist bump. Send a couple of gifs back and forth. I think I make a great wing person for his one-two-steps.

He’s listened to me lament my way through a few relationships. He’s sat through my storytelling and given the right sort of advice where necessary, and I think (sometimes) that I’ve given him a window into the female psyche. He’s been very casual when I’ve demanded “Why the fuck do guys do this?” and shown him inappropriate text messages. We’ve drank so many beers together I’ve lost count. He’s matched me for every pint. I love him to death, in that shove-shove-bruh sort of way.

I used to call him my kid brother. He’s not. He’s matched me on everything and surpassed me in others, and right now, in the midst of this awful, dark vortex, I look at the empty desk next to me and I panic.

With some last shred of hope, I searched for the banana peels with the smiley faces he drew on them in the trashes. There aren’t any left.

It sucks. Everything sucks. And pieces of this wonderful human being are showing up in my writing.

There is a lesson here, as I poke at my manuscript: the new one.

The people you care for manifest themselves in the work you produce. I don’t need to give you the context of these conversations because this man’s experience will always differ from my own, but it filters through. I’ve been working on Shine, and there’s a lot of him in here. His high school experiences. The flavour of these conversations. The tone that weaves through every ridiculous inside joke we share. I kinda hope he’s okay with that; I kinda think I’ve given him warning every time the conversation takes a darker turn and you burrow a little deeper into the things that have shaped you into the person you’ve become. I’ve asked him: “How much deeper can you go?” and “Can I use this?” even when it’s cruel to do so, and he’s given me so much more than I expected.

Who has friends like that? Who will willfully revive that shit for your craft?

For you, Mr. Horrible, Mr. Self-Destruct, The Negative One:

I hear that unspoken advice every time, and thank you for always holding back when I need you to. This is not an “I’m going to miss you,” this is still a small desk fire.

I’m also really glad you watched Death Proof. How great was that lap dance scene? Also, why haven’t we marathoned Tarantino movies yet? Come over. I will make you dinner. We will start with Reservoir Dogs and end on Four Rooms because that’s what needs to be done.

And yes, every time you ask, “Is this me?” when you refer to a particular anecdote in this blog, I will be honest and tell you if it is (and apologize and explain I was already six beers deep if that was the case.)

And even though you didn’t ask, part of Shine owes it’s experience to you. And when it’s finished, if you can tolerate fiction, I want you to be the first to read it.

You’ve been the devil on my shoulder for a long time. That spot’s reserved until you get your ass back here.

I don’t think I’ve ever told you this (because that would be weird) but you can stand under my umbrella. Until there’s a downpour. In which case, I will laugh heartily when I shove your ass out into the rain and you get pissy because your nice leather shoes are messed up.

I’ll console you afterwards and hand you the shoe polish. I always do.

Thank you. For everything.

And for making everything bearable.

 

 

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