Today is the day I met my husband.
I was a dazzlingly overweight not-that-young woman, and my career as a writer, scarcely begun, was over, I was sure, since I had already been threatened with a lawsuit from Ken Kesey, my once best friend and very naughty boy: ("If you publish this book you will have a liable(sic) suit in fact several liable(sic.) suits, We are the wife-swappers, and it will jeopardize(sic.)our position in the community," he'd written to my publisher. Doubleday had pulled away from any support, and several stories below deflated, I had started working, in a haphazard way, for my stepfather, a renegade financier on Wall Street. I didn't know where the numbers were on any of the machines in his office, or the subway trains, which I was terrified of. Deeply depressed, since I was probably already older than several of my favorite poets when they had died, I could hardly pull myself together, to go to "work," which I hated and even worse, didn't understand, since it contained numbers, my worst suit.
Puggy, my stepfather, came into the office, looked at me, and said: "You're starting to look like my Aunt Jenny. You better go out on a date. " So I called Don's boss for whom I was writing a script(unpaid.) Don answered the phone(he wasn't being paid, either, show biz you know, where you live on the excitement and bullshit, especially when you are young which I wasn't that anymore) and asked me to meet him for a drink. I didn't even remember what he looked like. (He had been the kind one at the meeting so of course hadn't made an impression, since I was captivated by scoundrels. At that first meeting I had had a cold and making me even more appealing, besides fat and depressed, my nose was running. Feeling a tap on my elbow, looking down, I'd found a Kleenex; looking up, there was Don. )
So that early evening, as I stood in the doorway of whatever club it was, this very tall, startlingly handsome young man I didn't even remember showed up. And he was carrying Vick's Vaporub, nose drops, cough medicine, a Benedrex inhaler, a box of 1000 Kleenex. And a green carnation. Funny right away, and touching. If you are lucky in life, something will be funny right away. And ultimately deeply, completely touching. In the truest sense. Meaning your entire being is touched. And moved. And in the luckiest cases, moved forward. Big time.
I wasn't smart enough to fall in love immediately, but it didn't take that long. I thought, "If I could get him, if I lost weight, I could get Cary Grant." So I went on a diet. It took more than a year, and when I finally got thin, I only wanted Don. Besides which, I hadn't met Cary Grant. (Ultimately I did, and to my joy we became great friends. But even then, I still wanted Don. He turned out to be the great romance of my life. So even though he didn't live long, it lasted for what I have had of forever.
So here I am now back in Beverly Hills where few celebrate anything besides themselves. I honor the date, the memory, the Irish(some of my best friends are...) and the joy of the truth that the best person I have met here, and maybe even anywhere, the most selfless woman in the Capital of Self, has her birthday today, and it can't be a coincidence. Happy Birthday, Ellen. Don't give your presents away just because you worry maybe somebody else didn't get any.
In addition to this being by definition a special day it is also the one where I began, at this somewhat belated bend in my road, a new career, as a provider of text for an incredibly gifted artist who has a website, the way people do these days, that is both witty in its art and original https://medium.com/@tanaoshima/fcc2c593dd0b.Check it out. It is truly remarkable and has brought me into this puzzling, and often offensive era, delighted.
So Happy St. Patrick's Day, all, and Happy 21st Century which it clearly, inarguably is, especially when you check out her work. May we all achieve some degree of illumination without being on fire, in the bad sense. A smile has made its way all the way to my heart. What a relief.