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Wednesday, January 19


"Do what you will wish you done when you are old."

Everybody's heard this sage advice. Since I first heard it when I was still quite young myself, there aren't just a whole lost of thing that I flat-out HAVEN'T done. Pretty much everything that came up required a choice, and I knew right off the bat, with very little pondering, what I would wish I had done. I'd wish I had done it all, and therefore I did it. Cept, the book'learn'in, which I might add is a bitter disappointment from which I have yet to recover. Anyway,

It goes beyond just the doing or not doing, thought. If you decide in favor of doing and it turns out to be good, do a lot of it. You never know how short the supply might be. Some things in life are just so sweet---and sweet is really not strong enough--I mean, so soothing and delicious that sometimes the memory of them is all you need to get by. You can just close your eyes and put yourself there in an instant. Your mouth waters, your eyes tear up, your heart beats fast, and it's hard to catch your breath.

Kissing Billy Doom was one of those sweet things in my life. Billy Doom---and we always called him by both names, never just Billy---was, in my considered opinion, the Best Kisser in the History of the Entire World, living or dead. He just had a magic mouth. I could die happy right this minute if I could die kissing Billy Doom. We were never even boyfriend and girl-friend or anything like that, just good friends and all. But I let him kiss me that one time. And it just about melted the fillings in my teeth. I was like a dog eating peanut butter; I just couldn't qui-I-I-ite get through kissing him.

Anyway, kissing Billy Doom was one of those incredibly sweet things that, when times are really bad, I could just think about and feel better. I'd say to myself, "You know, if I wanted to, I could just get in my truck and drive to St. Louis and kiss Billy Doom and feel a whole lot better. No matter that it wasn't actually feasible, that both of us were married to somebody else, that we'd had no contact in years, that I wouldn't even really know how to find him. It was just something I held out to myself. And I always felt like sometime maybe, sooner or later, our paths would cross again, and I could get me one or two of his kisses and no harm done.

And then one day on an impulse I called a mutual friend, Liz Smith, in St. Louis, and we were yakking away about old times and I mentioned Billy Doom. Liz was suddenly silent. Well, come to find out Billy Doom had been killed in a plane crash a year or so before and nobody knew how to call me. It hit me like an avalanche. I grieved and grieved over it. To find out that not only was he gone, he had BEEN gone---just undid me. I will never again in this life kiss Billy Doom, and it makes it little bit harder to go on.

And then they told me that Charlie Jacobs was dead. Charlie was a musician in a band called the Tangents that was popular all over the red states in the 1980's. I couldn't go to the funeral. Call me a wuss. I swear I did it out of kindness to everybody else who would be there. I knew I'd be rolling around wailing if I went, so I didn't go. I did, however, find an old tape I had of the Tangents playing live at the George Street Grocery, a great old pub in Westport. I put that tape on, and Charlie was singing "Love and Pain." I lay down on the floor between the speakers and closed my eyes. I was there. I could see him. Watching Charlie Jacobs perform was as good as hearing him, which is saying a lot. He didn't play the music; he WAS the music. The harp and the sax and that raspy, sexy voice of his---that's just how the music got OUT of him. His body contorted, face twisting, grimacing, grinning, eyes rolled up, fluttering, or squeezed shut tight, oceans of sweat streaming down his body, shining in the spotlight. And the music just carrying him---and me----away. I'd dance to every note he played, sweating every bit as much. I could not resist it.

I can listen to that tape, and as much as my heart sings with the sweetness of the memories, the knowledge that he's gone makes me feel like my whole body has turned to liquid and it's coming out my eyes---melting, melting. When it's over, I'll just be a pile of old clothes on the floor, like the Wicked Witch in Oz.

Here's the deal, though: One day, one day I'll get to Heaven, and when I do, the first thing I'm going to-do is drink a cold one with my daddy and pet my old dog Spud, and then I'll get Charlie to play and sing, and I'm gonna dance till I drop. And in between sets, and on all the slow songs, I'm gonna kiss Billy Doom. Then I'll know for sure I'm in Heaven.

We queens just love mens who love us, so all you mens, just declare yourself a Queen.

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