“Okay, okay, but serious question – ”
“Go for it.” He was eager.
“Fuck, kill, marry -”
“Shut up, hold on, ” she sputtered out through laughter, “Okay, so,” laughing again, “Alright,” she takes a steadying breath. “So,”, she pauses. He couldn’t see her, but he thought he heard her adjusting her hair through the phone, “Bugs Bunny,”
“God damn i-“, he lowers the phone, “seriously?”
Chuckling, “Fuckin’ why?”
“Or -” she skips a beat, “Shit, I didn’t think this through!” she howls with what’s almost a cackle. “I don’t know, fuck it – the Yosemite Valley,” probably seeing a picture of it randomly in her unknown location some thousands of miles away.
“You mean… like the park? In California?”
“Ha! Sure, I guess.” She continues laughing while he lightly chuckles and ponders. After a moment:
“Fuck Bugs Bunny – because the carrots,”
“Marry the Lorax,”
“And I’d kill the Yosemite Valley.”
“Just to spite my spouse,” and with that they both launched back into those deeps coughs of dry joy that are considered the comic’s sit-ups. That was the one thing they never really lost. Contact? Sure, from time to time. Each others’ phone numbers? More than once. Sight of what they really meant to each other? Well, perhaps they never really had that in the first place. But they never lost that initial synchronization of what made them both laugh.
And that’s all that really mattered in the end – to him at least – just making each other laugh. But the problem with founding an entire companionship on jokes is that it becomes a tricky thing to restructure or renovate. When the basement concrete, steel support beams, mainline plumbing, electrical closets, furnace rooms, washer-dryer hookups, and slop sink are all built out of shooting the shit and trying to make each other smile for a moment – anything serious isn’t really compatible. You try to put a romantic furnace into room with walls made out of fond remember-whens that are insulated with scrap jokes (and a few tattered love letters, sure, but she doesn’t know that), and you know what happens?
Yeah. Hope you have fire insurance.
“Are you excited to come back?”
“Ah, well, yeah, I guess,” he was less eager now.
“Why so glum, sugar plum?”
“I mean, it’s only for a few days.”
“Yeah, but we’ll be able to see each other, ye know,” he could audibly hear he stretching, “have a few drinks,” stretching ceasing, “smoke some cigarettes,” he started smiling, “make a day outta’ it.”
He held for a moment. “Yeah, I – that,” clearing his throat, “that sounds nice,”
“Then nice,” she pauses to articulate, “it,” pausing again, “shall,” and a final time, “be.”
She had a coy kind of charm that was like arsenic, and it was the key ingredient in his favorite drink.
“Oh, nah, come on now,” he adjusts himself in his seat some several thousand miles away, “you know I’d fuck it up.”
“And how do you think you’d do that?”
“Well,” he holds himself – holds that fancy new furnace at the top of the stairs, “I’m just worried that I’m in love with you is all.”
The basement rumbles. “Oh.”