Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hey, Star!

It’s been two years since you’ve been around (which is my roundabout way of saying what really happened), and I thought I’d catch you up on a few things that have happened in the interim. I’m pretty certain that, wherever you are, you’ve finagled some kind of Internet access and are able to read this. So here goes.

We’ll start with national matters. The Democrats, whom you helped put in charge of Congress back in ’06, didn’t do as well as we hoped in blunting George Bush, but they did manage to hound that odious Alberto Gonzalez out of office. But! It gets better. Remember that skinny guy with the funny name whom Illinois elected to the Senate? The one who gave that amazing speech at the ’04 Democratic convention? Well, he was just elected president, the first African-American to reach that office. Babyraven and Boyfriend and Supertarzan watched the returns with us, and you should have heard us when MSNBC called the race for Barack Obama. I wish you could have seen his acceptance speech…it was this incredible piece of history I felt honored to witness.

Let’s move on to more personal matters. Feanor and Poppy bought a big house, with many rooms and a back yard…the whole shebang. Very swank. Babyraven lost some weight and at Halloween she totally rocked her crazed, Tim Burtonish baby-doll dress. She and Boyfriend are still together, by the way. SuperTarzan graduated law school AND passed the bar in one try, which totally did not surprise me. I know lots of smart people, but he’s among the smartest even of those. VisMajor and family are well, and the Young Sir is now in high school. His voice is changing and he’s almost taller than I am. (Not that the last part is that big a deal, but I thought I’d mention it.) EverMike, whose online name I can’t recall, is well and dating someone, which was hard for me to get used to although that’s no fault of his or hers. Rhys is just about four now, and he’s incredibly intelligent. All in the genes, eh? Your folks paid off their house, and I was there to help celebrate the burning. Of the mortgage. Not the house.

Dan and I are up and down, but mostly up. We bought a house (we couldn’t be outdone by Feanor and Poppy, you see) about four blocks below South Street, within easy reach of the Italian Market. It has a basement room that was perfectly suited for a Dan Cave, and a deck which is perfectly suited for parties. Dan published Realpolitik, using photos (taken by Babyraven herself) of Movie Night folks, Fosters, and other assorted dignitaries. I’m proud as I can be. You’re featured in there as the Cultural Icon, which we knew would have embarrassed you but we did it anyway. I’ve taken up stand-up comedy, if you can believe it, which has taught me that no matter how embarrassing you think something will be, it’s probably won’t be as bad as you think. I had my own show in October, and even though I performed sick as a dog, I had a blast.

Everyone misses you terribly, even if we sometimes don’t say so. There are a few memorials to you around Center City, most notably the one your family put up by the frog in Rittenhouse Square. That would probably have embarrassed you, too, but I think we need it. You left us so abruptly and shockingly that they are something we can hold on to. It’s still hard for me to believe you’re gone. The other day I was looking at a picture of you at one of my Halloween parties and I said to Dan that was taken in ’07. He just looked at me sadly and said, “No, it wasn’t.” I’m not dodging reality, though; even in my dreams I know you’re no longer with us. I dreamt once that you and I were working as tellers at Commerce Bank, and we wore those awful little sweaters with the nametags and everything. We were screwing up the money and pissing off the customers and laughing like lunatics about it, but even in this little bank-teller fantasy there was a part of me that knew the truth. When I woke up I stared at the ceiling for a long time.

I’m not certain about anything since that terrible day two years ago. I finally understand the allure of those ultra-conservative Christian faiths, in which there is a source of unerring certainty that never changes and need never be doubted, because these days, it feels as though doubts are all I have. I don’t know if I grieved the right way, or if I was supportive enough to those who needed it, or if I should have done more or less. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back that sweet illusion that death is something that happens only to people I don’t know. I don’t know what comes after we pass away: another life or just oblivion, the ultimate end. I hope it’s the former, maybe because I can’t conceive of my own non-existence, or maybe because I don’t want to conceive of yours. I’d like to think that I’ll see you again in some other place and that you’ll say, “Hey, what took you so long? They have cookies here!” But no matter what may happen in the next world, I know I’ll never see you again in this one, and I guess that’s hard enough to live with.

Speaking of living, I’d better get back to it. I’ve got books to read, Frisbees to throw, vacations to vacate, comedy club audiences to either crack up or bore, and people to cherish while I still have them. And all of those things are sweeter for having known you.



P.S. If they do have cookies there, save me an Oreo, because I’m bringing the milk!


Blogger Gillian said...

Well put.

10:26 PM  
Blogger poppy said...


5:45 PM  
Blogger Star said...

I agree. Thanks Neil.

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Emmett said...

I think the thing that gets me the most is that gut-instinct reaction when finding something new -- A book, a piece of music, some ridiculous overpriced teapot... The instinct that says 'Star would love this.'

It still gets me, and it still gets me just as often. In a strange way, I hope that it never goes away.

10:27 PM  

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