Adventures in Los Angeles 3.4 – Steve Almond Fucked My Girlfriend

June 22, 2008

So Steve Almond is pretty boss.

I went to his lecture today… which was really very good.  He discussed the notion of the lyric register – the almost trance-like state that good writing can get to – that it must get to, really.  It's the crash at the end of the crescendo, the culmination of a truly good piece wherein the writer really cracks open the issue he's been leading up to and just makes out with it.  It's what I've been calling the "moment of telling," mainly in an attempt to appear professional and intelligent – the moment when the story or the essay grabs you by the face and shows (not tells, of course) you what it's all about.

You know that feeling you get from a particularly good short story or essay… the scramble of words that leaves you absently breathless, able only to summon up a wholly un-writerly, "holy shit"?  That's the lyric register.

Everyone here has a boner for Steve Almond.  Well… everyone who's fun, anyway.

I went up to him after his lecture, just before the throng of new fans swarmed, and I told him who I was.  "I'm Andrew, I contacted you a few months ago about this whole thing."  He didn't recognize me at first… which sucked entirely.  But a moment after that it clicked, and he lit up and said, "oh… wait… yeah!  How's it going, man?"

I had emailed him months ago… I told him that his essay on Kurt Vonnegut was pretty much the wallpaper on the inside of my head… and we chatted about our friend Kurt for a while.  I jokingly suggested that he should come and teach at Antioch… and a few emails later it was settled.

I'm the reason that all of those people got to hear him – and none of them know it… and while I'd love them to, I'm happy nobody knows.  I'm just happy they're going to read his books now.  Really, I'm nothing special at all.  I'm just some dude who came to read Steve Almond after years of hearing about him from Erin, my girlfriend… who this blog is really about.

Erin's been in love with Almond since I first met her.  He topped her list of "obnoxious Jewish boys [she] was in love with."  It took her four years… but I finally ended up reading some of his work… and I get it.  He's really really good.

So it was with great joy that I reported to Erin that I had come to correspond with him over the internet… and that he would be speaking at my school… and that I'd get to sit down and meet him… be close enough to touch his face, hear his voice, notice how he's going a bit gray… I particularly loved being able to tell him that his wife's name was also Erin… a revelation that caused her to wail like a wounded dog.

After Almond recognized me, I figured it was time to ask him for the favor I had planned on requesting the moment I realized that he'd been here.

"Steve… I know this might sound a little odd… but can you do me a favor?"  I asked him.

"Sure thing," he said absently, probably expecting me to ask for an autograph… everyone was lined up behind me with their books open.

"Well… my girlfriend is pretty much in love with you…"

"Yeah, I remember that… I told you that I was in love with her too…."

"Yeah, well… would you be willing to leave her a message on her cell phone?  I'm pretty sure it will kill her…"

Ten minutes later, after everyone had left… Steve Almond and I chatted about girlfriends, books and Bill Hicks.  And then I called Erin.

The phone clicked over to her voicemail, and I handed the phone to Almond, who took it and scurried off into a corner.  He came back four or five minutes later… a goat-boy grin wide across his face.  He patted me on the back, smiled at me, and told me to let him know how it went.

Erin played the message for me… I'm not going to share it with you, mainly because it was a private message from Steve to her… but suffice it to say, Steve Almond made love to my girlfriend over my cell phone.  He gave her exactly what I wanted him to… he caused her to percolate and bubble like a giddy little twit… and I adore both him and her for that.

Some hours after that, I bumped into him in front of our hotel.  I gave him a cigarette (he smoked menthols) and we chatted about the message, about movies, about school… and then, almost as abruptly as he had come upon me right there, he stomped out his cigarette, shook my hand and left.

Five minutes after that he probably forgot who I was entirely.  He said something about having to go to a writing conference in Utah the next day… he had mentioned it in his lecture, too.  He went upstairs to call his wife, probably… or coo at his child over the phone.  My encounter with Steve Almond was over in a rather fitting puff of smoke… and that's okay.

Because his message will live in Erin's cell phone for an eternity… and I will go down as that boyfriend who threw an impossible crush right into his girlfriend's face. 

Steve Almond fucked my girlfriend over the phone… and really, I can't thank him enough for it.

Rock on, Steve.  You rule.


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