The following is loosely based on a conversation between my husband and me in our kitchen one morning last week. Emphasis on loosely…
Me: You know how sometimes you’re lying in bed, and you’re half asleep but half awake, and you have all these fantastic ideas floating through your head, and they make so much SENSE at 3 AM, but then you wake up later and go, “What was I thinking?”
Jeff: Um . . . not really.
Me: Okay, maybe it’s a writer thing. Anyway, the cats were sleeping on me again last night – Sully on my chest and Gilbert across my thighs – and I, of course, was NOT sleeping – as usual – but then I finally started drifting off, and as I drifted, I started writing a column in my head. Or I THINK it was a column, anyway, and it was partly based on the cats – or maybe entirely based on the cats, but not exactly – and I was having all these great insights and epiphanies and making all these connections – it was about the cats, but everything else, too, you know? – and it was just brilliant and kind of like a dream – but not exactly – and I wrote pretty much an entire column in my head and I couldn’t wait to get up and get to my computer.
Jeff: Yeah, and . . . ?
Me: Well, now I’m up. And I can barely remember any of it. And what I do remember seems completely absurd. Except for the title. I remember the title, and it’s still fabulous! I was gonna call it – long pause – “A Tale of Two Kitties.”
Jeff: (Rolling eyes.) Oh, right. I’m sure nobody’s ever used THAT one before.
Me: Wait, have they? Have you ever actually read a column called “A Tale of Two Kitties”? ‘Cause I haven’t. And I think it’s pretty damn clever. I just wish could remember the rest of the column. Trust me, it was great.
Jeff: Uh huh.
Me: It was! I promise. And it wasn’t just about cats, either. It was deeper than that. I swear. I know I wrote about my window box again last issue, but . . .
Jeff: I actually liked that one.
Me: Well, thanks. But I’ve been writing this column for almost 25 years, and the window box thing is getting old. Do you know how hard it is to come up with a topic every issue? After 25 years? That’s a quarter of a century! I can NOT keep writing about our crazy bipolar country and our dishonest political narratives and our ridiculous dual realities. It’s just untenable. I can’t take it anymore! I can’t stand to THINK about it anymore. My sanity. I have to protect my sanity.
Jeff: I think that ship has sailed. . . Just write about the outrage.
Me: You ALWAYS say “write about the outrage.” I’m sick of writing about the outrage. But I don’t really want to write about window boxes, either. Or cats. Somewhere between cats and the outrage is where I want to be, creatively-speaking.
Jeff: Uh huh. I think you’ve had too much coffee.
Me: For instance, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed yesterday, and everybody was talking about Jimmy Buffett. And I’m reading all these long, thoughtful, beautiful tributes from people like Paul McCartney and James Taylor, and just regular people like us. And it was just so touching! To see people come together like that? Such a rare thing anymore.
A guy I went to college with posted, “Everybody loved Jimmy Buffett. He must have done something right.” Another friend responded, “He made people feel good. He made people happy.” Truth bomb! So simple, yet so profound. And who can do it consistently? Make people feel good? And happy? I want to do that with my writing! I’m tired of making people “think.” Nobody really wants to think. They only THINK they want to think. What people really want is to feel good. Be happy.
Jeff: Mmhmm . . .
Me: Or they want to be moved. Jimmy Buffett moved people. You know, when I was younger I thought his music was just this shallow fluff. Just these fun, carefree tunes for frat parties and tiki bars and such. But as I got older, something changed. I started being moved by Jimmy Buffett songs. I literally found myself crying in the car a few months ago over Margaritaville on the radio. MARGARITAVILLE. Who does that? Thing is, I suddenly heard that old song in a whole new way. The sadness and despair beneath the beachy, breezy vibe. The man is lonely. He’s been jilted. He’s drinking too much. He can’t even find his shaker of salt, for God’s sake! It’s a very poignant song.
Me: Anyway, people don’t always need to be moved, I guess. Sometimes, they just want some good gossip. Speaking of which . . . Did you hear there might be a new Murdaugh trial? Something about jury tampering? I don’t know if I can go through another Murdaugh trial.
Jeff: “Go through” another Murdaugh trial? The first one had nothing to do with you and this one won’t, either.
Me: Right, but the podcast. I’ll become obsessed with the podcast again! And Court TV. Who even knew there WAS a Court TV before the Murdaugh trial? Not me! I do need something new to obsess over, though. Something to fill the void. I just finished binging all eight seasons of ‘Inspector Lewis,’ and I feel like I’ve lost my best friends. My life has no meaning without Lewis and Hathaway. Robbie and James. I miss Oxford. Sigh . . .
Jeff: What are you even talking about?
Me: That Masterpiece mystery series I’ve been watching late at night, on my Kindle? Oh, never mind. I guess we’ve got one more season of Jack Ryan, right? I still can’t believe Season 3 was all about evil Russians! Pretty cheeky of them releasing that season after the invasion of Ukraine. If things go all to hell – if we find ourselves in full-on World War III – I’m gonna blame it on Jack Ryan.
Jeff: That’s nice, honey.
Me: Are you even listening to me?
Jeff: Of course I am. You were saying something about cats . . .