I stumbled across this piece today.  It dates back to the early 90s.  Even though I performed it fairly regularly, I have no memory of having written it.  That’s how it goes sometimes.

She could never take care of herself.  She was an accident waiting to happen, she was a bull in a china shop, she was dead but she wouldn’t lie down.

I used to say to her, forget it, this place, this time, it’s not for us, not for me and you.  You walk down the street and what is this place, this place is a shambles, this place is a slaughterhouse, people a hundred years from now will look back on us and say “My God, how could they live like that?!”

It’s one of those all-nighter phone calls, you know?  I haven’t talked to her for probably a year, I’ve actually been fairly busy.

(although of course I can’t make a living)

(but then again I never could)

And I say “What’s up?” and she says

“…oh, nothing…”

and I’m just like, oh fuck, oh no, no, not another one of these calls, no, not another one of these calls, she had me on a fucking plane to Boston after the last one of these calls.

She says it’s really bad this time.  She says her boyfriend left and I can’t remember which one it is now, how many is she up to so far this year, and she has no money and her light fixture is leaking some kind of yellowish-brown liquid and she got this dress that looked great in the store and it cost her all her savings and now she’s ripped it in this seedy club where two Italian guys beat up a black teenage drag queen with pool cues.

I say “But it’s always like this, and you’ve always made it through.  You shouldn’t be depressed, you’ve survived, you’re a survivor, and that’s where honor lies these days.  Honor, glory even, rests today in survival.”

And she says “What about Bono?”

And I say “Bono?”

And she says “Bono is doing more than surviving.  Bono is an amazing singer for the best band in the world, he sings of passion and heartbreak and truth and makes millions of dollars doing it and cares about political prisoners and gives money to all kinds of charity and has the soul of a great poet.  Bono is not just‘surviving.'”

Now I’m stuck.  How do I respond to this?  What I want to do is say “I’m sorry, we’ve got a bad connection, can I call you back?”

But I don’t do that.  I don’t think it will help her if I say “Well, Bono will die too…”  I’m kind of, I’m, I’m just kind of stuck.

But that’s okay, she’s off again, she doesn’t notice, she’s off again, no help needed from me, and says “I’m drowning, I feel like I’m drowning, this weight on my chest, it’s too great, I’m dizzy, I can’t breathe, my lungs are going to explode, can’t you see I’m drowning — “

But already my attention is wavering.  My eyes scan my room and come to rest on my TV.  The television.  And almost anything could have been on, it wouldn’t have mattered, the effect would have been the same, but as it happened it was the news.  The late news.  All the latest.  Medicine, law, finance, real estate, politics.
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7 Responses to “Friend”
  1. greyaenigma says:

    I often wish I could write. Sometimes I think I could. I don’t.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is this why we haven’t had any late-night phone calls lately?

    • Todd says:

      I honestly can’t remember what compelled me to write this piece. I certainly have known young women like the one in the monologue, but none have ever asked me to compare their fortunes to Bono’s.

      What I like about it is the way the narrator is relatively secure in his world, glad to have let the friend’s madness behind, and during the call he finds the weight of the world beginning to encroach on his comfort. It’s like the friend is a conduit to a more sensitive side of the narrator’s nature, that he’s perfectly capable of being just as screwed up if only he were a little more aware of his surroundings.

  3. teamwak says:


    We we only talking about this yesterday, but here is a link to a trailer for Stardust, from Russia of all places.

    As suspected, it looks stunning; but the Pirates of the Carribean is a little off-putting, lol.

    • Todd says:

      It looks like Matthew Vaughn’s Princess Bride, which could be a very good thing. Personally, I would be happy if he and Guy Ritchie made complicated, flip gangster movies for the rest of their lives, but things are what they are.

      • teamwak says:

        I take it you saw Revolver then?

        I put off watching it for so long after the reviews it got. When I finally watch it I was really impressed! It bucks normal story conventions in quite a few places, but I thought it was a really bold movie. Richie tried his hand at some really big ideas that dont get touched on often in movies like self detirmination, id, free will,fate, consequence and such. I thought it was beautifully shot and acted, with Statham giving a standout. The scene in the lift was particularly good. All in the search of the elusive Mr Gold. And Sorter, after Leon is one of the best movie hitmen ever!

        Yup, I definately enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.

        Still never managed to watch Cast Away though, lol.

        • Todd says:

          Actually no, I haven’t seen Revolver, it didn’t make it to this side of the pond, which surprises me. I’ve just been watching Lock, Stock, Snatch and Layer Cake recently and was despairing that we might not see more movies like them.