you wake up from a nap that you decided to take because you couldn’t remember the word “scatter” for several minutes and anyway that stack of student papers can wait until later in the afternoon or maybe until tomorrow, and fighting exhaustion gets old after a while, after months and months of it sometimes you let yourself give in and burrow under the covers into oblivion until a cat comes to lick your eyelid.
So you wake up and wonder if there’s news about David Cassidy because he was your first crush, or anyway your first celebrity crush (there was that boy in first grade), and you find out he is still alive, still fighting, but you know what multiple organ failure means, and you know what “critical” status means thanks to December 1983 learning all about shock-trauma, and you imagine what his family members are doing, mostly crying in places that smell of disinfectant and then the weird moments where something is funny and they’re laughing and they think god, what a relief, and anyway if he were awake, if he could talk with us, he would laugh, too.
And you look on Twitter and accidentally find Shaun Cassidy, your other crush, the one you were devoted to after his brother disappeared for a while from the public eye though maybe you should have been too old for a celebrity crush at that point, but real boys were too scary and likely to make fun of you besides, so Shaun was a safe bet behind the tv screen, in the magazines, singing on your record player, trapped behind the shiny surface of the posters on your wall, and you imagined he would not mind that you wore thick glasses, and you noticed he was also kind of shy, less shiny than his brother (despite the satin baseball jacket), less outgoing and with a voice that had a roundness to it, like you imagined his butt did.
And you decide to look at his Twitter profile to see what he’s like now, and maybe he has aged well but you can't tell, that profile pic is so tiny, so you look at the Tweets and right there near the top is something he RTed that at first looks like support for the tax bill and your heart sinks because oh damn, he’s a Trump supporter, but then you read it more carefully and see that it is a joke, a rallying cry for this tax plan “for the people” only it’s the people who own private airplanes and want their deduction or else they will march in the streets so this means even though he’s rich, he’s got to be rich from that teen idol money, right, and anyway he has done other things since then in show business, behind the scenes, you remember hazily, but even though he’s rich he doesn’t support that horrible man and those horrible policies, so you keep scrolling and reading.
And you think: he seems like a nice guy, and you notice that’s surprisingly good to think about, a relief that has caught you unawares, and then because of the news lately you wonder if he has sexually harassed anyone and you hope not because Jesus Christ, internet, just give me this little small thing, just give me being able to feel secure that he’s one of the good ones, like the one who loves me, let it be true because you can see that he has kids he reads to and he loves the Dodgers like your friend the composer who is smart and funny and he has a sense of humor and is self-deprecating.
And you scroll down further and see that one of his Tweets uses the hashtag #WhyIWrite so he is a writer like you, yes, go ahead and say that, you’ve earned it by now, go ahead and claim it and know that you and that man whose lips you dreamed of kissing decades ago when you had never kissed a boy are both middle aged and have this thing in common, the struggle and frustration and mystery of putting words on a page and feeling good when it’s working.
And you remember where he is. And you remember why. And you send love as in a prayer of comfort this time, not desire. Love because none of us will escape heartbreak and loss. And all we have nowadays anyway is love. Go ahead and send it to this stranger.
A new pen wouldn’t hurt either
6 days ago