Thu 21

Annual leave

Max Here I was all about to start a blog post called “That’s 2006, then,” when I realized I’d already done that in 2004. Except it was called “That’s 2004, then.” Because it was 2004 at the time. Not 2006.

One of the problems with writing all the time is I tend to unwittingly repeat myself. For example, the other day I received an e-mail that chilled my spine:

Please stop using the line “he’d never seen so many expensive pairs of shoes in one place.” You have used it in all three novels, and it has about outlived its utility.

Could I really be unintentionally inserting the same line into all my books? That would be pretty embarrassing. And probably sign of some kind of encroaching mental defect. Some kind of new encroaching mental defect, I mean. So I went searching through my manuscripts. Sure enough I found this in Jennifer Government:

John had never been surrounded by so many good pairs of shoes.

… and this in Company:

It turns out to be a bar so stylish that it has dispensed with anything as obvious as trying to look like a bar, and at at seven o’clock on a Friday evening it is full of deep orange sunshine and more pairs of expensive shoes than Jones has ever seen in one place.

But I couldn’t find anything similar in Syrup, thank God. That’s only two out of three! I reckon that lets me off the hook. And what about all the lines that aren’t the same? Nobody writes in about those!

Anyway, that’s it from me for the year. Thanks so much to all you guys who visit my site, and read my books, and validate my life. If it wasn’t for you, I’d be broke, bitter, and spending most nights fighting homeless guys for loose change. Well, I do that anyway, but it’s a lifestyle choice.

Fri 15

My Life as a Prick (or: Forgive Me, Elke)

Max Apparently some people go through life without regret. They make mistakes, but chalk these up to experience and move on. I would like to meet one of those people and shake them hard.

I’m the other type: one of those people who breaks into a cold sweat at one a.m. because I just remembered the time in 1989 when I asked this girl out and she thought I was joking, so I tried to play along. In fact, now I think about it, that happened a couple of times. I probably needed to rework my approach.

But the thing that really haunts me is that one particular person has been present at nearly all of my greatest humiliations. This is Elke, who I lived next door to when we were both babies. There are lots of photos of us playing naked in the splash pool; our parents joked that one day we’d get married; you know the deal. Well, Elke grew up to be beautiful, smart, generous, and kind to animals. And I’m quite sure she thinks I’m the biggest asshole on the planet, because every time she’s seen me in the last twenty years, I’ve been rude, drunk, committing a crime, insulting her brother, or some combination of the above.

It’s eerie. I don’t think she’s inspiring me to these depths. She just always happens to be there, staring at me in shock. I swear, if I took off my pants, walked down the street, beat up a nun, and mugged a homeless person, I would turn around and there would be Elke. It’s like my life is a sitcom and she’s my running gag. Only since I’m in it, it’s not that funny.

I understand that we all do dumb things now and again. What I don’t get is why all of mine happen in front of this one person, whom I otherwise never see. It’s a little disturbing to know there’s someone out there with a perfectly rational basis for thinking I’m a scumbag.

I haven’t seen Elke for many years, which at least means that I haven’t done anything seriously embarrassing since then. But one day I hope to run into her again, so I can say, “Look, I know what you must think about me. And I won’t try to change your mind. I just want to say I’m really sorry.” Then I would probably barf on her dog.