The hugest downside to any festival experience besides cling-ons, complainers, bad music and thieves—and people who take open air midnight secret shits immediately next to the left back wheel of other people’s trucks—is the porta potties. Even if there’s a thousand to choose from and even if they’re cleaned daily, having to use the porta potties is at any time for me a scarring experience that’s as unavoidable as it is profoundly unsettling. My sensory competence in the areas of sight and smell is unhelpfully excellent to an extreme. This distinguishing detail works very much against me when what’s to be smelled is appalling and what’s to be seen is loathsome and terrifying. I have a lifelong aversion to all things fecal matter and human waste, I even have nightmares upon the topic, I blame the incurable persistence and depth of my condition on my time in the camps. I spent my first few years of formative life in a refugee camp so I’m not entirely just being melodramatic for melodrama’s sake but yeah.
Dylan and I at festivals do this thing called ‘poo-crastination’ as we share the same fear and aversion of porta potties. Nonetheless, starving yourself for an entire week or weekend so you never have to make a movement isn’t feasible, eventually, finally, you have to go and when you have to go, motherfuck goddamned and hell, you have to go.
This one recent festival time, I could poo-crastinate no longer. I was forced at last to come face to face with the porta potties. Mute and resigned, I got in line and prepared as best I could for imminence replaced by suffering. We chose a porta potty we felt wouldn’t be too terribly bad as it was a backstage one reserved for more exclusive use but these out-of-the-way porta potties sometimes are cleaned less often if at all, precisely because they are out-of-the-way and more exclusive.
My turn came.
I entered. The stench within this particular porta potty was staggering. I went into immediate shock. I forgot to bring a flashlight which was a mercy because seeing the horror as well as smelling it amounts to double the disquieting contamination and sensory misery. Navigating a porta potty in the pitch dark on the other hand necessitates many simultaneous complex levels of skill, endurance and human ability. I wanted of course to do business as close to lightning fast as was physically possible but despite being thankful I couldn’t see the horror as well as smell it, I also couldn’t see where the goddamned fuck the toilet hole exactly was. I had furthermore to figure out how to remove whatever unworkably elaborate and irrational outfit I had with demented recklessness that night elected to wear.
The stench of this porta potty’s invigorating contents was so paralyzing and unspeakable that my whole body descended into a Tourettes type series of instinctual behaviours made wholly up of involuntary twitching, retching, gagging and dry heaving. I hopped meaninglessly and dysfunctionally about inside that cramped lightless terrible space trying to figure the universe desperately out, trying to aim accurately and well, trying not to get my clothes covered in unseen urine and filth, hyperventilating, twitching, gagging and retching. My eyes stared wild and wide into the ungraspable dark, I breathed shallowly and hectically as I tried to not also smell, thoughts of how death itself would be better than this implacably gruesome moment flashed big and clear and incisive across the bright lights billboard of my violated consciousness into the basic obliteration of my total being and mind.
Finally I burst from the confines of that harrowing lightless place. I was lawless, hectic, scathed and afraid. There was the customary line-up of humans waiting bored and vacant just outside. The collective expression upon all those faces said, ‘Jesus Christ girl, settle the fuck down. Get a grip.’ Eventually my heart rate slowed to an approximation of normal. I simultaneously dimmed and focused my eyes. I set my own expression to a special mixture of chilling enjoyment and menacing fun. I was all-knowing, indomitable, Orphic and inscrutable.
'It's great in there,' I said with a jaunty jerk of my right thumb in direction of the tall square lightless box of pain, 'You guys are gonna love it.' I didn't expect a response and there was none.
'That bad hey,' Dylan said. 'Auschwitz,' I replied.
It’s crazy that being alive and human is so magical and breathtaking and awesome and beautiful and so fun. And then there’s poo. Can’t have one without the other right, take the good with the bad, the majestic with the abominable, the extraordinary with the traumatic, the sickening with the sublime, the ugly and the beautiful. Which is why I guess sometimes when we laugh very hard and deeply and a lot, we’re basically crying too.
By the unexpected chance of a series of sudden events, Dylan and I found ourselves caught all up in Paris on Bastille Day along with over 500,000 other people there to soon enjoy what would eventually amount to one of the greatest fireworks display experiences of our lives.
While we anyway before the show were riding the streetside tide of hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists alike, we saw a nearby happy woman in a short flouncy dress skipping with great carefree jauntiness hand in hand with probably her lover or boyfriend or husband.
'That woman has a very unfortunate… stain upon the hem of her dress,' said Dylan.
I looked at the place addressed and indeed there was a stain that was exactly as unfortunate as Dylan described. The immodest markings were of a clearly fecal variety and devastating in their public visibility.
Everything was in keeping with what might happen if a person not wearing an adequacy of underwear enacted biological business #2, didn’t wipe completely or properly, sat upon the hem of their short flouncy skirt at some subsequent point and then walked rapturously round again.
'Hm,' I said carefully, 'it is looking a bit—a-‘poo’-calyptic down there.’
Dylan said, ‘I’m not im-‘poo’-ressed.’
I said, ‘She likely won’t win any ‘poo’-pularity contests.’
When the poo puns ran dry, the rest of our company ignored us while we descended into a shared experience of giggling like retards.
Tea at Camilla’s place is always something of a strenuous study in sumptuous excess. It’s as strained and upsetting as it is fascinating and fun. For all the great beauty and grandeur of Camilla herself and of her home and living room, I feel at times a private tension and secret discomfort.
Camilla serves gossamery hors d’oeuvres and superior tea all gorgeously arrayed upon a beautiful ornate tray.
We drink the tea in slight slow sips and share small talk and stories. I am careful not to let my thoughts and conversational compulsions stray too far away from ‘the mark.’ I’m one of those people that talks with great animation and passion about whatever’s disjointedly on my mind and what’s on my mind isn’t at all always nice, safe, pretty or sweet.
Sometimes I’m preoccupied with terrible things and I want to talk about them. These things might include anything from rape, war, torture, murder, political corruption, religious exploitation, violence, death or animal abuse.
'Oh darling. Must we talk about those things,' Camilla says, whenever I've accidentally strayed into troublesome undesirable territory. 'It's such a beautiful day. Please. Let's not be depressing.'
'I'm sorry Camilla,' I answer, 'Contrary to popular assumption, I'm just not 24-7 thinking about designer handbags, gossiping about our friends, television shows or celebrities.'
We both pause to with pointed neutrality drink our tea.
'I just don't feel like thinking about exploitation, corruption, murder and rape,' Camilla says.
'I'm sure the people being exploited, corrupted, murdered and raped probably would also rather not be thinking about exploitation, corruption, murder and rape.' I think this response but I do not say it, because such argumentative mercilessness is sure to ruin tea.
There is a silence between us.
'Well!' Camilla says at length and changes what's sullen and empty into a brightness of sound. 'So. How are you! How are you.’
The last ‘how are you’ is a glory of auricular italics.
'Fine!' I reply, 'Gloriously fine.’
My ‘gloriously fine’ fairly matches Camilla in terms of auricular italics, to the point where it all might pass for rude. I nibble primly then upon the gossamery hors d’oeuvres. Camilla pulls from literally nowhere a dust buster petite and pretty in its design and diligently she dust busts my blouse to vanquish all crumbs as they develop and happen. The whir of the little machine drowns my conversation mostly out and so I pause.
'Go on!' Camilla urges, 'I'm listening! Go on!'
I wait nonetheless till she finishes with the petiteness and prettiness and dust busting. I have no idea how clearly readable is the expression on my face. Mentally I think my expression couldn’t be louder or clearer as to the content of its total meaning, but something tells me Camilla likes willfully to be blithe and blind to such silently blatant things.
'Do you have to dust bust me every time I reach to eat?' I ask finally. I add, 'I mean. Couldn't you just give me one good final dust busting once I've finished with the food.'
Camilla flushes, laughs ethereally and makes a gesture with her hand that is as dismissive as it is dainty.
'I just like to keep things nice and tidy!' She says, 'You know how it is.'
Seeing as I too am an unreasonable OCD perfectionist neatness freak, I do in fact know ‘how it is,’ but even I don’t barbarously dust bust the lap and shirt front of the person seated next to me while they try with innocent discretion to eat.
'Anyway,' I say with a fixed and luminous smile, 'Great crumpets.' 'Those aren't crumpets,' said Camilla.
One time I was musing upon certain serious issues and unexplained things and wondered how almond milk actually was made. Dylan answered, ‘there’s very advanced intricate machines with little suctions and clamps to milk the almond’s tiny teats.’ My eyes became briefly round with preoccupied wonder as I dutifully pictured the explanation described. I was impressed by the intriguingly miniaturized science of this. Then abruptly I scowled, narrowed my eyes, hit Dylan in punishment and said ‘HEY’. Dylan meanwhile descended into a merry madness of wild chuckling. ‘Tiny teats!’ he chortled. A couple of times he slapped his knees. ‘Yeah laugh it up’ I growled and pouted, cursing God for constructing my nature from such large swathes of naive blind faith and gullibility.
Any time anyone invites me anywhere, my immediate and penetrating instinct is to formulate some reasonable-sounding instant excuse in order to graciously without delay refuse. Sometimes I’m shouting ‘I have spina bifida’ or ‘My sister’s on life support, tonight I decide upon the plug’ or whatever serious-sounding thing before whoever is inviting me to wherever has even finished speaking.
Once at work the people there were organizing a field trip to an event outside of work so we could all bond or whatever, do something special as an entity, get to know each other more or some nice group togetherness idea type thing. I was already brain racing to drum up a good ‘Jesus/sorry/love to/can’t’ excuse but then suddenly I actually heard myself saying ‘Cool, great, sounds really awesome, when is this, consider me excited, absolutely count me in’. Feet in my mouth from out of nowhere and completely needlessly. It was like I truly couldn’t get enough of these people. All present visibly were surprised. I acted carefully chill and fully focused to prove I guess that I damned well meant literally every single word however manically uttered and terribly bracing.
Let me backtrack and give a setting.
This story takes place during those original days of working at my first dungeon, when I was unversed and diffident and just beginning. I spend all my life being unversed and diffident and just beginning but that’s something of a whole other thing—
Work involved dressing in libidinous and improbable outfits, beating on strange men, teasing and insulting them, tying them up and generally offering a beguiling fetish buffet of heartless and sexy abuse for a small amount of time and a lot of money. My co-workers were a colourful cast of characters and our bosses too were themselves so colourful there probably isn’t any collection of adjectives that could sufficiently describe them. I’m not going to get super detailed about everybody—I’ll just say that some in the group were pretty fucked for sure but overall everyone was friendly and frolicsome and funny and fun, everyone’s hearts were I think for the most part good but right. Enough about the presumed goodness of everybody’s hearts: this actually is a story about giant trucks and a work field trip and most directly about a confrontational deranged exceptionally angry man named Blake.
The field trip. The idea was to attend—I swear to God—a monster truck rally. Why did I pretend I was so furiously interested in joining this particular group for this specific trip? What in fucked up holy Satan Jesus shit could monster trucks have anything at all to ever really do with my reality? Massive wtf with the thinking.
Some part of me I guess felt badly for always excusing myself and not being social. I also maybe wanted to show everyone that I don’t always immediately reject their ideas, that I wasn’t so misanthropic and antisocial after all, that I wasn’t so high on myself I wouldn’t just this once rub shoulders with ‘the masses’, do whatever fucked up shit they did and fucking enjoy it. So yeah. Signed. I meanwhile was privately bewildered and curious at myself for worrying about things that normally didn’t worry me. I also had some kind of sense that I was walking into something not merely irrelevant to myself and my life and but also that that something might be overwhelmingly irrelevant. And strange. And crazy. Like fucked up holy Satan Jesus shit crazy.
Right. So monster truck field trip day arrives. The bosses bright and early pick me up from my house. I’m wearing of course something adorably uncomfortable and inappropriate completely. I bid adieu to the sweet person at home and climb into the car. The car is crammed with everyone else who pretended excitement for the trucks and the trip.
[Back then too I had a more histrionic and expository sense of style than even now and this style was as much appreciated as it was reviled (same as now). I anyway then only wore things that were shiny, leather, challenging and black. My platform boots or stiletto dagger heels always were at least 5 inches high, a part of my head and both of my eyebrows were shaved, my hair was long, brightly dyed and wildly arranged. Also there was of course the blackly thrilling make up, the impossible lashes, the painted brows, an unignorable number of visible facial and body piercings. So right, please. Picture it all. Keep all these drenching details in mind.]
As we approached the monster stadium where the monster event was to take place, I began to wonder if I shouldn’t fake a heart murmur or a botched abortion or some sudden enormously good excuse to flee. We arrived at the stadium very abruptly however, so I didn’t have the chance to make any kind of cowardly heroic final moment escape. I fixed my face thus into its usual unreadable mask like I could give a shit and along with everyone else exited the vehicle.
At the venue, we met up with more people as prearranged by some of the others. One of the men we met was I think a family friend or a cousin of someone present. He was narrow-eyed and covered in tattoos, his head was shaved and he was by his apparent nature probably dangerous and fundamentally filled with a totality of heedlessness and rage. His name I quickly learned was Blake. He zeroed in on me at once and seemed to without discussion or arrangement designate himself as my rabid one man protectorate. His presence and disposition was so seething and ferocious he almost left me breathless and disturbed. I didn’t at all know what to make of him, I had no idea what was expected of me, what I was meant to do, act, feel or say. A part of me actually felt like smiling or even laughing but I didn’t smile and I didn’t laugh. I just remained neutral and outwardly calm, like I happened casually to unspecifically just be there.
Most of my life I have been and am used to everyone gaping openly at me. These stares from strangers are never subtle and the unspoken judgments, conclusions and opinions are not always kind. I’m so used to all those staring eyes that I always look at no one and just like I said remain deathly distant, abstracted and neutral, make my way through all environments and act like nobody’s looking, matters or cares. I quickly recognized nonetheless that this Blake person saw himself as without question my very own personal savage slayer saviour. As we moved through the crowd of thousands, Blake scowled menacingly at anyone whose eyes strayed even minutely or accidentally my way. He walked clenching and unclenching his fists.
We arrived at our seats while Blake with his tense strong angry body and flashing hate-coloured eyes glared a big fuck you to all society. His behaviour was overwhelming and problematic but was also in its way kind of almost nice as well as amusing unintentionally. I wanted again to laugh but I didn’t. I just acted neutral, like I was the same as anyone, a human-shaped slowly moving machine. Finally we were all arranged, I half-smiled vaguely at nothing specific while Blake seethed and glared and challenged everybody.
The monster truck show began and it was as strange and excessive and irrelevant as it actually was kind of impressive and fun. All those huge trucks rolling with effortless heaviness over lines upon lines and piles upon piles of cars and whatever else could with great gratuitousness be crushed colossally. Huge big trucks, huge big tricks, peels of bad loud rock music, fanatical crowd response, all the at such an event absurd ridiculous expected things. The dirt bike performances and associated tricks were especially good, I liked that part the most. The whole thing was pretty huge and big and loud and preposterous but I enjoyed myself generally. My bosses and co-workers too were having a fun nice time.
The show went on and sometimes I could tell people were looking and staring. I could also tell they looked more quickly away than they did any actual looking. I sense things like this peripherally since like I said I never look or stare at people directly because I know they are doing enough looking and staring for them and me both. Blake and I were nonetheless proving to be quite the pair. I felt a bit like a culture shocked mail order Bonnie to his murderous ticking time bomb Clyde. I tried a couple times to demonstrate light-heartedness and to be cute but my attempts fell a bit flat. Blake just couldn’t stop glaring at the world like he would annihilate anyone for the smallest reason whatever, all they had to do was look at me for less than a quarter of a half of a second. It was kind of amazing. I’ve never played it cool so hard and with such dedication so much in my life.
At intermission we headed to one of the bars. ‘WHY DON’T YOU JUST TALK TO HER?’ Blake roared at some men nearby that Blake singled out as an apparent challenge worthy of thunderous threats and impending death. ‘We just want to get some drinks’, one of the men replied in a calm low voice. Blake seethed at him eyeball to eyeball and the look in his eyes was a nightmare. I gazed absently elsewhere like I wasn’t aware of much. I gave somewhere in there too a fleetingly compassionate and sympathetic glance to the diminished men while Blake regarded me with flashing and furious eyes that seemed to say this whole goddamned world was filled with bullshit raving idiot males who all were retards, snivelers and weaklings deserving of the severest beatings and I should do nothing but be fragile and look beautiful, be protected by him and agree. I tried my best with my own flashing and furious far less convincing eyes to agree. I wanted again to laugh and again I didn’t, I had to do it all with deliberate inwardness and demurely.
What in God’s holy Satanic Jesus’ name was I doing at a monster truck rally with this particular collection of people being jealously guarded and protected by this loose cannon of a gangster type vehement violent virile man? It was in its way great that Blake was ‘on my team’ but he was obviously borderline psychotic and fairly clearly actually insane. The man was practically spoiling to beat the shit out of somebody, everyone maybe. He was like a pitbull who all his life has been trained just to fight and kill and win and like it. I wasn’t sure I understood or approved. I sensed though I should make like I did, at least till the whole episode came to a safe conclusion.
Finally the oversized trucks finished with their monstery business. As we all slowly exited with the hordes of stranger thousands, I made small talk with the others and was the whole way out still being ferociously protected and guarded by Blake. He actually shoved people aside to clear my way. A father and his tiny son were inching along beside our group and the boy gaped with wide anxious eyes first at me and then he was wholly taken up with Blake. Rolling with Blake at least for once gave me the novel experience of having someone else get all the gapes and stares and quickly averted eyes. Blake smirked ghoulishly at the child and shouted, ‘CUTE KID.’ The father muttered his thanks and discreetly maneuvered his son to a closer position of greater security. I hid a grin.
Once outside we milled about and waited for one of our bosses to go bring the car around. I fumbled around inside my handbag for something and then gazed up to check on the general progress of things. Everything was bright and nice and normal and then there was Blake. He was standing in the middle of the busy street shoulders squared arms outstretched hands in fists sauntering with measured steps forward, like an angry pedestrian stalwart Jesus daring all of traffic to have a piece of him. I was as taken aback and filled with wonder as I was both impressed and transfixed. How does a man get to be someone like Blake? I wondered what the holy fuck it would actually be like to be him for a day.
I forget if anything further happened, if we all together did anything else, I don’t really remember even getting home. I was probably philosophically fucked up or literally drunk or neurologically lost in my usual eventual way. Back at home however, I do remember rushing in, kissing quickly the cheek of the sweet person there, my happy thank every God I’m safely finally back home again relief rushing down upon me. When sweet home person at length eventually asked, ‘So! How was it?’ I exclaimed, ‘Oh. Well. Jesus. Shit. Where to begin?’
The next time I ran into Blake was a month or so later. He was cowering peculiarly and unexpectedly in some high rise elevator, eyes averted and looking hunted. I was utterly surprised and had no idea what to think or do or say. Despite faint interest in whatever the fuck was the story or point or reason, I knew it’d be wiser not to push or pry. Taking great care to be brief and casual, I looked at him askance by way of hello. As I pushed the up button, ‘HI’ at last was all he said.
Much later I learned Blake was taken away by the feds or a SWAT team or some dramatic thing. I don’t really know and it’s probably for the best. The image of Blake though taking on a whole street of men and cars after spending the day protecting me from monster truck enthusiasts and imaginary enemies. That experience while strained and deranged remains fondly in my mind and memory. Blakes of the world I thank you. You’re fucked and you’re crazy and it’s kind of great. Strange chivalry, but I’ll take it.
Dylan’s been on a weeks long beard and moustache growing strike while he waits for his graphic designers to turn in their work. The beard is fair to satisfactory but the moustache despite time is barely a step above woeful. It’s little more than a mildly unruly sparse and fluffy wiggling upper lip caterpillar. I watch him sometimes quietly trying to directionally train the little hairs. He reminds me of a 15 year old Palestinian boy arms and hands hanging loosely down standing alone upon some sandy dune looking off into the middle distance and longing poignantly, for manhood.
Bohr had a background in philosophy as well as mathematics and an exceptionally agile and open mind. His writings are a bit mystical and also somewhat impenetrable. His main role at the Solvay Conference seems to have been to calm everyone down and reassure them that despite all the craziness everything was going to work out fine. Somehow Bohr had a very deep insight that quantum theory was consistent. It’s clear he couldn’t prove it. Nor could he convince Einstein.
Einstein was very quiet at the Fifth Solvay meeting and there are few comments from him in the recorded proceedings. He was deeply bothered by the random probabilistic nature of quantum theory as well as the abstract nature of the mathematical formalism. He famously remarked (on a number of occasions), ‘God does not play dice!’ To which Bohr finally replied, ‘Einstein, stop telling God how to run the world’.
Neil Turok Our Imaginary Reality The Universe Within
Seated upon some stage edge at festivals late at night outdoors in very cold conditions, I often shove my freezing hands with heedless familiarity deep into and between Dylan’s thighs in order to steal there what warmth from him I can. This action usually works and is a casual comforting unthinking warmth-returning thing. I performed this maneuver automatically one consumingly cold late hours festival night. As I sat there huddled gazing inattentively about and listening to the sounds of the music and the evening, it occurred to me in a way that was both gradual and sudden that something was different, strange, not normal and not quite right. Absently I moved my hands between the warmth-bringing thighs searchingly upward in propulsions that changed from casual interest to confused concern to outright panic. I felt deeply around the V-shaped recess with a wondering insistency as my panic and confusion grew. No balls. No balls! I looked up and aghast at the owner of the warmth-bringing borrowed thighs and it wasn’t Dylan! It wasn’t Dylan at all! It was some tiny stranger Asian female that was fully not my boyfriend. She gaped at me thunderstruck as my offending hands below froze in their previously blind and utterly urgent balls-seeking molestations. In that suspended moment, I don’t really know whose face registered more speechless horror, hers or mine. Once I could wrench myself out from the paralyzing spell of the shared shock and our mutual stare, I flingingly withdrew my provocative hands and fled.
Walking with some girlfriends one sweet and sunlit afternoon, one of the girls candidly asked, You guys ever been with an old guy. My other friends were silent and probably not really listening. I don’t know, I said. Depends what you mean by ‘old’. Cause like when I was younger I learned this guy I was hanging with was 35 and I was taken aback by how amazingly old he was. Think as you get older though, your idea of what ‘old’ is changes. So yeah. How ‘old’ are we talking. I dunno, said my girlfriend after the merest of pauses. Her voice was so offhand and careless it was pretty much a shrug. She said, Um. Like. Seventy? My girlfriend’s overall manner now was thoroughly easygoing and laidback. In fact she was so perfectly lackadaisical that I shoulda recognized that what was actually being asked and whatever was being actually alluded to was the least lackadaisical thing in the whole damned world. I was silent. My silence was heavy with words like ‘um’, ‘wow, ‘okay’ and ‘oh’. We walked all of us then splendidly along and I thought no further upon this desultory exchange.
Later that evening after dinner when we were all out moderately drunk and filled up on nice food from some good place, my girlfriend who earlier casually conversed about possible relationships with the aged and I went for a cigarette. She immediately preambled me with tales of recent loneliness through thin shared clouds of smoke. Stuff about how this boy wasn’t this, that guy wasn’t that, things didn’t very much pan and they haven’t really worked. No romance of substance has happened or developed and now so anyway. Here she is. Then so she’s out with some new man who was gonna help her with some important shit and they were chilling and chatting and he was like 69 and the next thing you know he’s fingering her. She felt strange and not exactly 100% sure about what was happening but he took a $50,000 course on fingering and apparently it showed. All this story came out in a passionate unbroken torrent while I lent an ear and stared. I was rendered altogether transfixed and wholly mute. This is rare. Here I thought we were just two girls innocently out for an after-dinner smoke. My girlfriend’s tale was so frank and dramatic and chock full of entirely unexpected progressively overwhelming and startling details it was almost a challenge. Just to listen and be there. My thoughts were a chaos of possible response. I don’t know what amazed me more, the fact that my girlfriend let a strange man old enough to basically be her grandfather have his sexual way with her or the fact that there are $50,000 courses being offered teaching people the professionally proper ways to finger a girl.
I maintained an expression of consummate neutrality. Well, I said at last. So. How was it! My girlfriend’s face was a confessional display of perplexity and pain. Different… she squeaked, drawing out the word in a very high register. The italics audible in the answer was impressive. My girlfriend’s ‘different’ was all meditative agony and exquisite wonder. It was as much a wail as it was an expression of sheer self-analyzing confusion and surprise. Her head lingered too on an angle that nicely complimented the italics of her response. Her tempestuous eyes were deep brimming wells of a momentary and confided despair. I gazed at her. Then I threw my head back and yowled. It was one of my most thunderingly heartfelt moments ever in laughing out loud. My girlfriend looked off into the middle distant and twice gingerly said, I went there. I went there. Then she added, Does that make me desperate! I opted to view the question as pretty much rhetorical and instead just yowled again, this time with greater elegance and more placidity. Then I offered a very big embrace. I looked directly into my girlfriend’s pained and pretty face and said, I love you darling, true and through. And not just because you make for great writing material.