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Dean Haspiel

History

11th March 2003

3:54am: If the White don't win, we all jump in
Stagnant, I tried. to. do. my. job. Barely penciled a few panels. I had lost it. There was no will - no talent - in my fingers left to create. Mojo had flown the coop and my muse was playing hide-and-go-seek. This was terrible. I was shutting down. Who to call? I went over to Lena's apartment down the block. Dougie B., came over. We ordered Ling Ling and ate at my house. They watched Must See-TV. I just sat there. Tried to lie with my face. My face couldn't lie. Why did I try? All my head could do was blink. A wax museum figure.

Blink.

I was in full coma by Friday night. By 11PM, I crashed the futon. When I moved, I moved from the futon to my bed @4AM. FEAR. I woke up @7AM. I slithered back to the futon and lay there, fixated on the clock until 9AM. I couldn't stand the silence. I wrote SBX a very small email telling her that I missed her, wanted us to work this out however long it took, that I loved her. I had to write something even if she didn't respond. I found it increasingly difficult to do any...thing. My heart was breaking. I called JinxMalone who helped me think about my situation. She was sweet and caring. I wanted to move to California and have her shush me. Bring me milk. Pet my buried crown. Hanne, from Cobite, called to say 'hello.' Upon hearing my little voice, she knew something was wrong. She gave me pep about her own experience being a single mother of two kids and what that entailed. Giving me another slant to how hard that circumstance is. Truly.

Despite her wishes for no contact, I called SBX and told her that I was feeling tortured by her silence. That it was like waiting for the results from an AIDS test only I shouldn't wait for her verdict to determine OUR relationship. It took two to tango and WE should be hashing this out. Together. Not JUST her. Figure it out. Make it work. Because we LOVE each other. She told me that she hadn't had time to THINK about us and would try to do that tonight.

Try?

And then the news came in. Mr. Rogers was DEAD. 74 years old. Stomach Cancer. Mr. Rogers Neighborhood taught me everything I needed to know about people. More than The Magic Garden, ZOOM, Bozo The Clown, and Sesame Street. Well, maybe not more than Sesame Street. Still, he was like a televised bong hit. A human Yule Log. Mellow, serene, right. The antidote to my father's abusive fist. Mr. Rogers had my back, even when the TV was off. Four years ago, I would be walking down 42nd Street/Times Square, going to a friends' Birthday dinner, when suddenly, there he was, walking down the avenue in his light blue, buttoned-up sweater. His hair wasn't dark anymore. Halo white. Without hesitation, I blurted "Mr. Rogers?" And, then he said it--

"Hello, neighbor."

With the biggest, most genuine smile. He called me "neighbor." Words I'd heard -- sounds I'd known, all my life. That soft yet sure twang. He reached out the palm of his hand and we shook mitts. I told him that I had grown up with him and thanked him for all he had done. He was much obliged. And then he was gone. So simple. Nothing more. Nothing less. I continued to walk in a daze and turned a corner. I was a block away from the restaurant when I saw a large black man talking on his cell phone in front of an outdoor garage. It was Busta Rhymes. What was happening? Why was I bumping into my heroes? I went to shake his hand and he gave me a pound. I flubbed the ghetto-fist handshake and he smiled at me anyway and finished his call. I don't remember walking after that. I was blessed that day. Twice.

The phone rang. It was Hueston. He was w/Marie. They had just gotten back from a 4-day respite at a Spa. They'd heard desperation in my voice from a voice message I had left on their machine. They knew something was up. They had to return the rental and were picking me up for a ride. No questions asked. No debates. I got them hip to my troubles and we drove passed SBX's house, turned the corner and drove by Mr. Ex's new restaurant and dropped off the car. It was a sunny afternoon. I focused on the rays of light. We went to SESAME, a new Thai joint on Smith. Ate spicy noodles. Discussed trouble and bath oils. Later on, we watched ROAD TO PERDITION w/Eric & Michele, Doug & Lena. It was okay. SHOGUN ASSASSIN was far superior. I think I might have been funny during the evening. I don’t know how, but I scored a few laughs. Tried to be light-hearted while it secretly shattered. SBX never called to say "good night/I love you," but I guess I knew that she wouldn't. Which sucked, because she should have. She was my girlfriend. Everybody left for the evening and I was solo but not alone. Despair was my friend.

Saturday morning, I woke up @7AM to hammers and buzz saws and furniture scraping across the ceiling. New neighbors were making above, theirs. Only, WHO the HELL does that at 7AM on a SATURDAY morning? Do they know no courtesy? And, as I lay there, trying to sleep, tussling with feelings of losing SBX, I knew, KNEW, that this audio attack would end @9AM. Like a time monger who mocks sleep, the sound barrage declined and disappeared at 9AM, on the dot. And I lay awake, angry, tired, and sad. Maybe it was the fresh cracks in my ceiling that made me take charge, stand and deliver, but I got up, showered, and rode my bike over to Park Slope to a flower shop. Spent $20 on the most beautiful bouquet and went to SBX's doorstep. Rang the bell. She was on the phone. She saw me. She smiled. We had words. I conceded to the fact that she can't change and won't. Not now. SBX was struggling with regret. She doesn't want to add her relationship with me to the baggage. I told her that I now knew that she loved me the best that she possibly could and I shouldn't take her inability to spend more time with me personally. More words. More understanding. With that, SBX made her girls and me some grilled Swiss cheese sandwiches and we sustained plans to eat curry dinner at The Haze’s friends house later. This was a slow and grueling process. But, we loved each other and maybe today’s gain would eventually end the pain?

Went home. Got a call from Matt Berkowitz. Been 14-years. I played a Nazi in his short movie at SUNY Purchase w/Craig Lechner. He filled me in. Lots of story. Too much information. Jewish guilt. Wanted to see me. Set a date.

My dad. Want to know HOW poor my Dad is? He lives in East Hampton in cottage w/no insulation. Lives on $500 a month from Social Security. Has no heat & no water. After two days of thirst and frozen fingers he melted snow in a pan for water so he could drink. Made 'snow coffee.' THAT is how poor he is.

Met up w/SBX and the girls. They dressed pretty. REALLY pretty. We walked over to Praveen & Aparna's house around the corner. Indians. He's been here a few years, a graphic designer who recently brought his wife & kids to America. Hard transition for her; from upper class citizen living inside a castle w/servants and cooks, to housewife in Brooklyn washing dishes & laundry, and learning domesticity. The kids watched a Bollywood DVD while Aparna hand painted Mehandi designs on our arms w/henna. I got a sun god bursting bright on my right bicep. Authentic vegetarian Indian food was cooked and served as we talked about caste systems and neo-Indian female authority.

After dinner, we left for Linda & Jason's Mardi Gras party and dressed up in masks, feathers, and beads. A drink and some talk and SBX was slipping, exhausted by the turn of the day. I felt sluggish too, but would not be sleeping w/her tonight. Small steps. Larrondo buzzed and invited me to Freddy's Bar on Dean & 6th. I decided to foot it. Nice out. Air. Kissed SBX goodnight, gave her a big hug. We were back.

I finally found Freddy's. Larrondo was w/his babe Pivovision, and Pango Lafoote was chilling w/Mabliss & hubby Eric. They were all enjoying the final few tunes from a band called YOUNG HEART. They were country w/a little bit of folk & punk mixed in. They were honest and good. I liked the girl. They all liked the girl. I liked the Pabst Blue Ribbon I drank, better. I told Pango a bad joke and made him tell everybody else. He could hardly contain himself. The punch line wasn't great but it wasn't THAT bad. Delivered wrong and it could be a disaster. He was afraid of disaster. Tears rolled down his eyes. Laughing so hard. Afraid of disaster. I was on my knees, grabbing gut. The laughter hurt. Pango could hardly muster. Barely say it. It was all too much. A punch line to a joke was choking him and it almost killed me.
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