Honest Stuff I Make Up · · Tucson

To Gilligan, on Her 37th Birthday

Dear Dale Van Dale,

Today, on my day off, I am here in the bungalow soaking in a tub full of hot water and I am drowsy from all the Benadryl taken for the allergies that only last week I was gloating I never suffer from this time of year. How proud I was when I shared that trivia about myself with the other houseboys and guests of a Cubalse themed key party. How quickly things change! Kerchew.

Please note that I have scalded my alveolar ridge and uvula with the hot, hot, very hot alphabet soup I prepared for myself and am now stubbornly gulping down in spite of the pain. That is how hungry I am right now, Dale.

In the yard the sun is shining and the Masters' beast, Gershwin, is still reeling from an indignity suffered at the veterinarian earlier this morning. He takes it out on the peacocks, of course. Poor birds. Before today they could strut about the grounds blissfully ignorant of the knowledge that every dog has two anal glands. Nevermore.

In from the bedroom drift the faint sounds of the National Public Radio jazz affiliate, which I am often too lazy to turn off in the mornings. And this morning was no different. Whatsmore, perhaps because I am suffering from low-blood sugar at the moment, the melange of standards, current events and commentary only makes everything feel all the more insane.

If I am to understand correctly what I just heard, Diane Rehm is on a slow boat to China with Ella Fitzergerald and threatening to blow everyone up if the authorities try to interfere. What a confusing place this world is.

I digress. Where was I? Right. Drip, drip, drip.

Dale, I do not expect you to recognize me in the above photograph, but I do hope you will be understanding when I tell you the reason for that is because it has been a quarter-of-a-century since we saw each other last. Also, I am of course naked and neither my eyes nor pageant winning nose is visible. Sorry about that. I know how used to seeing my eyes you are, Dale. I know how you love them.

Dale, I am also trying to tell you that I am writing this letter to you not only naked from the bath, but also from some place very far away from your parents' cinder block home near Kennedy Park over on the Eastside. Yes, that is correct — that very same house where you were trying to teach me all your favorite numbers from The Wiz and Tommy — two films which to this day I still have not seen. In no small part because I am convinced that after enjoying your many reenactments of them, I think seeing the original productions would ruin it all for me.

Does that make sense? I hope so.

Also, I should add that to this day the only thing I really know about Ann-Margret other than she is an actress, is that since Tommy is something that happens at your house, you always get to be her. It is okay, Dale. No hard feelings. That is fine by me.

Okay Dale, I suppose what I am really trying to say here is that I am writing this letter to you from the future. Yes the future, where I have been meaning to tell you something for a long time.

I wanted to let you know that the reason I have not been over to your house after school lately is because my mom says she does not want me there when your parents are not home. At first I thought it was because of the afternoon when she came to pick me up and you and I acted out the crash scene from Mahogony for her. I think that bothered her. All the way home in the car she had an upset look on her face and we did not stop for Tastee-Freez. When I asked her what was the matter she said she thinks it is very odd an eleven-year-old boy memorizes every word to every scene and song in that movie. I know, I do not understand either, but when I asked her what was so bad about that, she did not answer.

I was wrong though. That is not the reason after all. My sister told me today that the real reason is my brother thinks you tried to drown him at your pool party. Is that the truth? Blood being thicker than water aside —Haha!— I refuse to believe it until you tell me otherwise. You have to admit though that you did react rather psychotically when Garrett picked him instead of you as his Chicken partner.

I am sorry for taking so long to write and send this to you, but the future is a frighteningly distracting place. Witness the one hundred channels on the television, which is sitting dangerously close to the tub. The station I am watching features a program with a heavyset hostess who grew up a poor, abused Christian girl but rose above it all to become a millionaire Christian woman who now draws on her wealth and life-experiences to better abuse others. I think we can both relate to that, no? Feeling as we do about the choking and eye-poke hazards of press-on nails.

So, right.

Right now, in fact, this woman is interviewing a congressman about his recent travels in Central America, where he was supposedly doing fact-finding about regional Bezier curve techniques for some proposed vector based missile-guidance system to be built in his newly created Creative Class district. Although I do not know the slightest thing about politics, my understanding is that he returned from the trip with nothing to show for the time and money except for some elegantly rendered cocobolo carvings. Of phalluses. They are showing them on the TV now. Is that gross, or what?

Anyhow, knowing all of this about the future and why I have been out of touch these past twenty-six years or so, perhaps you will be able to forgive me the delay in writing and may even want to come visit sometime.