I started out yesterday happy and blithe, and for many hours was oozing joie de vivre, but by the end of the day I was feeling rather blacklungish with fear.
Let me try to trace what happened, perhaps to understand why I lost my sense of well-being, which was so nice while it lasted.
Woke up early, 6:50, to write my Slate diary. Drank coffee, which went directly to my writing gland, and by 10:00, I had typed out the diary. All was well.
At 10:30, I did a phone interview with a radio station in Canada. I was being interviewed to promote my appearance at the Montreal Comedy Festival, July 17-18. I'm part of a program called Reading It, where a few of us writers will read, one hopes, humorous pieces.
Like Jack Benny, but in a literary way, I often do the same routine now whenever I give readings. I have two essays from my book What's Not to Love? that are always crowd-pleasers, so I recite them repeatedly. Their titles are self-explanatory: "Bald, Impotent, and Depressed," and "I Shit My Pants in the South of France."
Since I'll be in Montreal, I'll probably read my Francophile essay. Before doing so, I'll make my usual apology, which goes like this: "I've come to notice that the world is divided between those who like scatological humor and those who don't. For those of you who don't, please try to see my story as a tale of hubris, of excessive pride, and that diarrhea is merely a metaphor for loss and the vanquishing of ego."
I have to say, ever since I penned that South of France piece, I've received the most incredible confessions from people about their bowels. One man told me of heroically getting to a restaurant toilet in time, but then exploding before he could get his pants off. We all know that moment of terror, but most of us survive. This guy didn't. Well, the poor fellow wanted to take off his pants and try to clean himself up, but he was idiotically wearing military boots and managed to knot the laces and couldn't pull his pants over his shoes! He was stuck in the stall and had to ask another person in the bathroom to get him a steak knife so he could cut through his laces.
Anyway, I did the radio interview, and for the next several hours I didn't have a care in the world. I wasn't nervous at all. I'm practically broke, surviving off credit cards, which is always upsetting, but yesterday it didn't bother me at all. I was at peace.
I did try to work on my novel, which is about an alcoholic with a nose-fetish, but I was in too good a mood to concentrate. Then somehow it was 6:00, and I hadn't done a thing and a nervous thought penetrated my mild euphoria: What will I write for Slate? I came up with a plan: Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and then go see Terminator 3. I figured that would make a good diary entry.
I headed for the bridge. I kept meeting dogs along the way. Whenever I go for walks, I troll for love from anonymous dogs. First, I ask the human owner if I can pet their dog. Then I get down on my knees and the dogs love me up and lick the wax out of my ears. I nuzzle their necks and practically give them a hickey. What I'd really love to do is to lie on a field with a hundred dogs and just roll around and have an orgy of affection. I'd prefer that to a human orgy.
Well, I made love—in the old-fashioned sense—to several dogs yesterday, and by the time I got to the bridge, I had lost interest in crossing it. So I went to this park beneath the bridge and met some more dogs.
Then I went to see Terminator. I like going to movies by myself. I loudly guffaw, chuckle, chortle, and emote. After Terminator, which I enjoyed in a sort of lobotomized way with occasional vocal outbursts, I snuck into the Johnny Depp pirate movie. It was during this enjoyable film that I began to crash emotionally. It may have only been low blood-sugar—I hadn't eaten for hours—but suddenly I felt very sad. I thought of my parents. Lately, I haven't been very generous with them on the phone, hurrying off, and the shortness of life struck me—who am I to hurry off the phone? We don't live forever. Then I had a delayed reaction to the apocalyptic crap of Terminator. So many movies are about the end of the world, and I worry about some kind of mad subconscious universal wish-fulfillment being channeled through Hollywood.
By the time I limped home after midnight, I was done for, and it has kind of carried over to today. But it's 10:00 now and I know what to do. I'm going to call my parents and talk until they want to hang up, and then I'm going for a walk to look for some dogs to love.