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07.15.01 10:43 a.m.

Whatsoever that be within us that feels, thinks, desires, and animates, is something celestial, divine, and, consequently, imperishable.


 -Aristotle  




I believe I had an epiphany. If not a true one, the synthetic, secular equivalent.
I realized that M is one of my best friends. No, really, this is an Eepif-N-E ( Synthetic Realization Co. Inc. 2001). Most people treat their significant others as exactly, literally, what the term states. Others who are important. But they are not part of you wholly. They are other.
Okay, perhaps you don't understand. That is okay, I don't expect you do without some convincing. In fact, I should have come to realize all of this far sooner (read some of the entries when I was still interested in wooing Miss Katherine), but I did not.
I feel intensely close to a small given few. My best friends, if you will, though I regard them and hold them to a higher (or at least highly stylized and individual) set of standards. "Kindred" might be a better word, but it draws to my mind dreadful White Wolf role-playing games. Also, few people outside Victorian novels or the aforementioned RPGs chance using it. So, best friends I shall call them for the ease of public digestion (ew).
It is certainly not that they (who I shall choose not to name. You know damned well who you are) can do no wrong. Hardly. But rather, if they choose to do wrong, it exists on a wholly different level than anyone else I know doing wrong owing at least in part to their unique and (dare I say) personally evolved senses of morality that probably helps my enjoyment of them. But I am rambling...
To the point, because I am sure that I had one, I realized that Emily is one of my best friends. Not merely a girl who I am with. No no. Our bond is forged deeper (though, given what we've been though in these past two months, I would find it difficult for it not to have been). She truly does belong on the level of Conor, Sarah, and Kate, to name a few. Should our romantic relationship dissolve for some reasons, and I currently do not see why it should, I would still long for her on a level so deep that I can barely regard it as a part of my conscious self.
This realization has made things so much sweeter and nice. I am holding my best friend. I am sharing a wordless understanding with a being truly like me. This is too saccharine to be digested, I know. You are likely regarding this as the confessions of a blind romantic. What makes this epiphany more than an Eepif-N-E ( Synthetic Realization Co. Inc. 2001) is that I do not feel like I am her boyfriend (a term, incidentally, of which I am not fond. I think I railed against it in an earlier entry and shall not right now except to say that once I could be prosecuted in every state of the union, I was no longer a boy). Nor her lover (this term has always seemed sexual to me), "cuddle buddy" (a term which I loathe for its vagueness and misleading cutesiness. Ye frickin' gods, I'm not a bloody teddy bear. Damned plushy fetishists!), ball and chain (no and no), or any such colloquial atrocity. Feel free to delegate yourself to such a role in a romantic relationship, but I would and do find myself profoundly lacking.
So, you still don't understand why I am happier that I regard her as a best friend than that I kiss her (don't get me wrong, I am all about the snogging. I love that she is my friend but I crave the sort of osculation that does not result in regurgitation but rather stimulation. Okay, that was remarkably annoying. Moving on). Your confusion is valid. I accept this.
I realized that I can just be with her, as I am with my friends. Of course there is more to it that that, but we will leave it as I don't expect many readers will feel I am making sense.

My younger brother, not oft mentioned in these annals, is now eighteen. My little brother. Give it a moment, let that puppy sink in. He's technically an adult. I'm technically old, relatively. The lad who used to claim he was a werewolf in his youth now can vote for the next leader of the free world (well, actually, I don't know that it could get much worse...). And buy cigarettes, something I hardly see him doing. And can walk into the nearest gas station and say, "Please, my good man, hand me a copy of Swank and Barely Legal, if you would be so kind." I fear.
Also, the dear lad is getting promoted where he works and will soon be paid a good seventy-five cents an hour more than I have ever gotten.

No, I am still unemployed, thanks for asking. The library rejected me in a very terse letter. I do wish that they would at least give one some indication upon rejection as to what made the applicant less than employable.

Dear Applicant,
You smell funny, like patchouli, mothballs, and curry powder. As such, we cannot employ you at this time. We will be keeping your rank resume on file, in a zip lock bag. If in the future some chemical disaster robs us all of olfactory capabilities, we will call you.
Sincerely,
Wendola's House of Cheese
(Let it be known, here, that I do not smell anything like patchouli, mothballs, or curry powder. Just in case you require this information.)
Okay, so technically I am not wholly unemployed. I do have the just selling occult items and jewelry at the Ren Fest. It just has yet to occur and certainly isn't the sort of job I can get promoted in. Though it pleases me greatly that I shall spend my weekends using accents with my best friend/girlfriend. However, it seems to require that I spend money to get sandals and pants that befit the era. Evidently the era that includes paper cups full of Pepsi products and MasterCard, not that I am pointing out anachronisms or anything.
I know I'll love it, I merely do not love spending money I barely have under the idea that I will make more money. Tis displeasing to mine ear!
Emily and I also have to take a language class soon, in order to better keep up the illusion that this is Renaissance times. Or, more clearly, not now. From my visits to Ren Faires, it is more an amalgamation of every Western European time period prior to the 1850's coupled (or more truly, forcibly mated in a Suessian zoo) with the works of Tolkien. The progeny of this got passed through a cultural coffee-filter that includes like likes of Lucy Lawless and Kevin Sorbo. What is expelled in a Renaissance Faire.
Do not get me wrong, I enjoy them a great deal and am gleeful that I shall be working at this particularly famous and resplendent event. I think they are fun and provide amusing and (mostly) socially acceptable escapism for many people (though I have this ingrained image of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons using Old English). I am just bitter about having to buy special pants. Deeply, deeply bitter.

All week I had been planning a surprise for M. I decided that, since she had yet to hear a song that I said reminded me of her ("My Madonna" by Dexter Freebish), I would simply take her to the concert. All week I dropped small hints and kept her guessing. As we drove up, she had finally decided that we were going to a concert of some sort (my family dropped anvils) but still was clueless as to who was playing. I tried to throw enough red herrings in front of her to please a pride of lions or else I am sure she would have found out.
Even as we arrived, she was baffled as the parking lot faced rather innocuous buildings that did not betray their proximity to the theater at which Dexter Freebish was playing. Finally, as we stood in line, she saw the marquee (my computer suggested Marquis... heehee!) that announced the headliners. She threw her arms around me and pronounced me wonderful. Aw!
The line moved painfully slowly, in that it didn't move for nearly an hour after we arrived. This gave Emily a chance to scan the surrounding concertgoers and decide that we were likely the oldest people there. This was not so but the (as Emily put it) '80's prostitute behind us certainly left something to be desired in the involuntary company. The aforementioned girl was likely no more than 13 and looked it under the cake of eye shadow and the clothing that may have gone out of style when she was conceived. Nearly all the girls were wearing spaghetti-strap tank tops in a rich array of pastels and all the boys were Abercrombie and Fitched to an unnerving degree.
Many a koi pond was lacking its Carassius Cyprinidae tonight.
Once inside, we descended to the pit. The first band, Corey, despite Emily contention that it sounded like a small boy with Garfunklesque hair and overlarge clothing should front it, was more like the aternapop version of Menudo. Even with the pumping music, M and I mocked them a fair amount. I personally adored Emily incisive wit. We both nearly fell when the lead singer (aka Ricky Martin's bastard brother) crossed himself with the microphone twice. Clearly God can hear these prayers better.
The second band, Maria's Basement, was good until we bothered to listen to the contents of their song which, according to Emily, involved "Let me tell you the tale of my friend named John and how he went to school." Hardly Poe, the writer or the musician. Also, I had earlier been teasing the lead singer to M because I thought he was a roadie for the first band. The high point of their set was certainly their cover of Weezer's "Say It Ain't So," which sounded remarkably like Weezer. However, if one is trying to put forth an original band, being remembered for sounding like a fair imitation of another established band when you are not a cover band is the road to damnation. This is called the Liam Gallagher effect.
What did amuse us during both of the prior set was Boring Guy, who emoted as little as was possible. He slowly bobbed his head, jaw slack, never moving and a limb unnecessarily, no matter what was playing. In an ever-changing world, Boring Guy was our rock. Experienced sailors tell landlubbers to gaze at the horizon if you are feeling seasick. Its stillness will calm your stomach. Well, I proclaim to all concertgoers, find your Boring Guy. Trust me, he is always there. Whenever the concert seems to be declining, whenever a band sucks egregiously, whenever Fat Sweaty Guy moshes into you, look to Boring Guy. The Stoic. Same no matter how badly the concert is going. He, my dear friends, will steady you. Then, mosh into him at full speed. Boring Guys wobble, but they don't fall down.
Finally, Dexter Freebish got on stage. I am not a great fan of their music. However, their showmanship and audience interaction more than make up for less than stellar song writing. By the second song, the lead singer had the audience lunging to touch his ass. That, readers, is power.
M and I were actually yawning at the prior bands, and I was wishing the concert would hurry up. After a few well-chosen cords and sufficient humor for the band, we were jumping up and down (entwined together, which is a feat in itself) and screaming. Best of all, for me, was when they sang their most famous song ("Leaving Town") during the encore (when they arrived back on-stage, they said "Sorry, that was just our beer break." I personally am a little annoyed when bands act like it is a surprise that they are doing an encore. It is bloody well expected) and they forced their drummer to sing the chorus despite his protest that "you all suck." Then the lead singer took his drumstick and "conducted" us with it. Showmanship, I tell you. Showmanship.

Last night, as no one was at the Mid-Hudson Pagan Network meeting I had planned, we ended up hanging out with my friend Kendall, whom I had not seen in a while. She informed me that she and my cousin Katelynn would also be working at the Ren Fest with me, which should make for some very good stories. As Emily has never explored Cold Spring with me, we took her to a chapel that overlooks the Hudson River. It is one of the better hangouts and views in the area.
After a long talk, mostly of Emily's illustrious past, we departed to visit the shrine of Godzilla. The story goes, though I have no proof as to its veracity, that it was originally a shrine to the Virgin Mary. She was stolen, because there is obviously a large call for pilfered icons on the black market. For one reason or another, it was replaced with a Godzilla figure. Well, everyone knows how great the demand for Japanese reptilian plastic toys is on the Portuguese black market, so it too was stolen. However, it was soon after replaced with the Godzilla figure of a young boy that was killed in a car accident. Human decency prevented this one from being stolen. Well, that and the fact that it is cemented to the shrine.
After practicing idolatry toward this sci-fi Jesus, we decided that the best and most logical course of action was to fly the kite that lives in my back pack. Only, once we arrived at the starlit baseball field, Emily politely informed me that she recalled me leaving the kite in the back of my car. Leaving the lasses to their own devices in the dark, I ran off to fetch the kite. I was not sorry for this opportunity to run in the night, a pastime of which I am very fond. Plus, I was hoping the Kendall and Emily would bond as they could foreseeably be spending more time together at the Ren Fest. Upon my return, I saw that they had been speaking at a nice pace. Oh, yay. I do so want my other friends to like M.
We tried, with little success, to fly the pocket parafoil. The running starts did little good to get it very far up, but the experience of trying to fly a kite at night was more than worth it. One must have these experiences.
One. Must.

reading: Communion: A True Story, Whitley Strieber
listening: "Grow For Me," Little Shop Of Horrors
wanting: the power of flight
interesting thought: Hindus have 36,000 gods. I believe I can thus pay homage to the God of Zilla.
moment of zen: realizing that Emily is my best friend.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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