First there was the bed. I picked it out of a catalog and had no idea. It suffers giganticism, but instead of bones and swollen flesh, it was blocks of solid wood and memory foam. The top of the mattress came to my bustline. I’m only 5 foot 2, sure…but that’s still pretty damn high. When it was delivered I tried to hoist myself onto it for a test-flop, flinging up a leg and scrabbling for purchase, but I gathered no traction and slipped right back off. I needed my daughter’s pink fairy footstool from the bathroom to get on it.
It was Mount Olympus.And I mean it…like clouds and deity. Like sleeping in a pumpkin pie, or inside the silky snug part of a vagina. Gus, who despises change in every form, only looked at me and said, “It’s ridiculous.” And said no more. Even though the bed was king size, he still slept stiff against the edge as he had to do when all we had was a Full. He did not have a good night.
The next morning two things happened. I had an article that was doing very well. Then George Takei shared it to his massive internet cult following, and “very well” became viral. Reddit, Digg, MSNBC, Neatorama, even Snopes (lots of people think I made it up. Like I could come up with stuff that good) had picked it up. In 24 hours the piece had received 2 million views. I set new records at Mental Floss.
And then, within the hour of realizing this, the legs of the tv tray my laptop was sitting on caught the edge of the rug, and the computer fell to it’s death. It wasn’t the first time I’d dropped it. The down button didn’t work, it wouldn’t hold a charge, and the screen was partially dislocated. This was all before I dropped it for the final time. Frankly it probably jumped.
I now had two things to tell my husband, who was at work after a miserable night in the new bed. I approached him with the old, “good news or bad news” line. He learned that his infinite files of miscellaneous notes and webpages, obscure public domain books and his collection of awful music was likely gone. He sounded so unhappy my good news, the article’s success, sounded embarrassingly cheap, the excitement of it wisping away as I spoke. I muttered out what had happened, he muttered out a “that’s great,” and we hung up and I laid down to cry for awhile.
You see, Gus is all I’ve got. I only write humor and human interest from a gnawing insatiable desire for attention and approval. Mass approval is very good, friend approval is necessary. But what really matters is family. People who really understand what a mess I am also being able to see how I can soar. My children are too little for me to be any flavor of hero. My parents are dead. I have no other blood family that will speak to me, much less give me a cookie for a job well done. So Gus has to carry the extremely unfair burden of filling out the entire cheering squad of my career. And normally he can, in his own way. But not when his back hurts and all his Devo bootlegs are lying cold on the living room floor.
So I cried for my dead parents and my lost family. I cried for how far I still was from real writing success, the definition of which I no longer know. I cried for the slightest edge of irritation that had crept into Gus’s hypnotically even voice. I can’t bare him to be mad at me.
I don’t know how well that article is doing. I just got my new computer today and I’ve only used it to desperately try to regain lost time in other assignments while both my children squawk and yank and wheedle around me. I don’t care how that article is doing. It’s success had little to do with me; it succeeded simply because I had the luck, out of the 80 or so pieces I’ve written this year, to have one strike a chord the public liked to hear. That and, of course, by the grace of His Majesty George Takei, King of Internetland.
I don’t have a wrap up for this one. Something something….don’t allow others to hold your happiness in your hands…something something…Eleanor Roosevelt quote….whatever. I want a cookie.