May 9, 2000
Gifts and Gasbags


Today is David's birthday.

If you know him and you think he's wonderful, send him an e-mail and tell him so! He'll love it.

If you know him and you think he's a pompous, deranged, opinionated gasbag,  send him an e-mail and tell him so! He'll love that even more.

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I've been reading David's college journal this week, and it's proving to be more scintillating reading than Jon Carroll, the Baby Boomer message boards and the last dozen *FootNotes* entries, put together.

(Although that may not be saying much, under the circumstances. But that's another story for another day.)

david's journalThe amazing thing? Until three days ago, I didn't even know that this journal existed.

David has never mentioned it, in all the time we've been together. I had no clue he'd ever kept a journal. (Which is ironic, when you consider the fact that journals -- and journal-writing -- helped bring us together in the first place.)  And he definitely didn't have any old personal notebooks stashed away, anywhere here in The Castle ... under a mattress, say, or on the top shelf of the bookcase, or tucked behind the bag of frozen squid tubes in the refrigerator freezer. If there had been, I would have found them during one of my early *Snoop & Destroy* missions, right after I moved in, along with the photos of ex-girlfriends and the little black address book.

So this was a surprise, to put it mildly.

On Saturday afternoon, we sat together on the bed and went through a big box of his old stuff that I'd somehow missed.  Photos of his great-grandparents. Punk rock concert posters from the 70's. His college diploma. A handful of Susan B. Anthonys. Old postcards.

And ... his journal.

"I thought you might be interested in this," he said offhandedly.  And he passed the little notebook to me.  

Are you kidding?!!??  I couldn't have been more shocked -- and delighted -- if he'd handed me a diamond engagement ring, wrapped in a winning Big Game ticket and nestled in a bed of KFC Honey BBQ Wings!  It's sort of like this: imagine that you've been a tuba player all your life. You love playing the tuba more than just about anything ... and one day, out of the clear blue sky, your Significant Other whips out a Jupiter BBb 582L and starts playing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."

That's what it felt like.

In fact, I think the enormity of my reaction startled him. "I really had to think about whether or not to give this to you," he said ... and I could see the hesitation in his face. What did he think I was going to do? Laugh at him? Think less of him? Read portions of it over the phone to my mom?

Rush immediately to the computer and transcribe the whole thing for *FootNotes*?

(Hmmmmmmm  .....)

So I've been reading his journal this week, a page or two at a time. It's a small, half-size notebook, eighty pages total, and he only wrote in sixty of them,  beginning in November 1974 and ending nearly four years later, in March 1978. I'm reading it slowly because I don't want it to be over.

Mostly he writes about cars ("The truck is slowly taking formation, after months of sweat and cigarettes") and work ("As of today, Sunday, I have decided to get out of the restaurant business for a while"") and girls ("I was standing at her door without enough nerve to kiss her goodnight -- said something like 'hope you had a good time' and turned to leave -- DRAMA AT ITS BEST -- if she hadn't shown such shock on her face, I would not have kissed her").

Occasionally he touches on deeper issues, like politics and music and his goals in life.

And there is a lot of wonderfully evocative slice-of-life stuff about the pre-punk rock scene in the Bay Area:

"... Saw The Tubes tonight at the Concord Pavillion. I really outdid myself ... I looked like a deserter from the Kiss Army -- white greasepaint, mascara, red lips (with a trail of blood out of the corner of my mouth), and black eye sockets, a la Cooper. I wore G's tails and Coté's riding pants with motorcycle boots. I received innumerable remarks about my resemblance to Bowie, it was almost spooky. People in line made comments: 'God, he looks like Bowie!' as I strutted upstairs during intermission, a group of people shouted 'Bowie!' at me ... "

All in all: it's been an illuminating read. And a deeply moving one.

I think the thing I'm finding most poignant about this little journal -- besides its eloquence, and the touching vulnerability of its author, and the fact that this is yet one more thing that he and I have in common  --  is knowing that reading it is as close as I'm ever going to come to *meeting* the young David.

I don't begrudge Fate for postponing our relationship until midlife. Or at least I try not to. I know that if we had met earlier in life  ..   in high school, for instance, or in our mid-twenties  ...  it probably would have been great. We would have enjoyed the same instantaneous physical chemistry ... the same incredible *meeting of the minds* ... the same love of music and history and wordswordswords. And we would have been fabulous together.

For about a month.

(Until he became cold and controlling and stopped calling when he promised he would call, and I cheated on him with his best friend, and we started having a lot of drunken screaming arguments in the Payless parking lot before we finally broke up in a blaze of flaming adolescent glory, and today his name would be listed in the Dysfunctional Relationships section of the *FootNotes* archives.)

I know that we had to travel a long road to get to where we are today. I'm mostly fine with that. But sitting here reading his journal this week is like listening to his twenty-year-old "voice." It's like a little unexpected time capsule. And that is very, very cool.

It's ironic. Today is his birthday, but *I'm* the one who received the real gift this week. 

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At any rate. Happy Birthday, Honey ... you big, wonderful, pompous, deranged, opinionated gasbag.

I love you!

throw a rock