Linguist, lexicographer, radio host, public speaker

A gift to C., on the eve of her departure

This Week In The News. In a week, three of us stand
and laugh, having a good time.
But we are a person short
so we go home early. The next week, I call. My friend’s roommate
answers and we both laugh after a second
and keep on laughing cause we both know
I forgot my friend was out of town
for quite a while. So I write a letter and put extra stamps on
to make it arrive quicker. The third week, a woman down the block
has a cat for give away. I know
just the person, I tell her. She, I say, is recently
without a cat. If you can imagine it. I try to figure out a way to send the kitty.
Can’t just put kitty in a box. How would I do this? We would need a smart cat,
with a keen interest in exchange rates
and customs regulations. Kitty could probably go for cheap,
for maybe for a child’s price.
I don’t think they have a kitty rate,
but I’d ask. I’d put a note under the collar
saying, “My name is Kitty. Please seat
me by the window and pet me a lot.
I want a margarita from the drink cart.” Maybe kitty would get lucky and the
flight would be empty and she could
lounge around in a big first class
seat and look out the window.
But I think she might have
a problem making the connecting
flight in Miami. She has short
kitty legs and it’s a big airport. The fourth week, I stand in line. Some
guy says he likes pad thai. I say: Pad thai! Don’t talk to me
about pad thai! I know this girl
who can eat pad thai like it ‘s
coming back in style. He says: Pad thai? I said, that guy. I was
talking about a friend of mine. Yeah, me too. Me too. The fifth week the bottom falls out of
my personality. Ego and id jump from as
high as possible so it’s a sure thing. I wish my friend was here. I always feel cool
when I hang around with her. The sixth week I start to tell a story and
everyone on the receiving end looks at me.
What? Did I tell this one already? Yeah, we heard it all before, they say. You mean the one about my friend and how she…? Yeah, yeah. We heard it. Seventh week I see this chick in funky disco clothes.
Her skin sparkles and her eyes don’t shut. I think it’s my friend. Turns out it’s somebody
famous, which is close, but still not my friend.
I follow her around for a while anyway. Eighth week I run into a mutual acquaintance
of me and my friend. I haven’t seen him in a while.
He asks about my friend. Are you kidding? I say. She’s been gone for two
months, like, forever. I wish I was this guy, cause as far as he knows
my friend is still around. He’s got the idea he can be called by a bunch of
pet names at anytime,
just by picking up the phone and dialing my friend. He can’t. I write my umpteenth letter. The post office tells me I can’t ask for a return receipt
from another country. It’s not that she’s not writing letters, I say.
It’s not her handwriting on it that I have to see. The woman hands me my change. It’s that I want to see if I can send something
to another continent and have it come back. She hands me my cat stamps.

author avatar
Grant Barrett