Today is Bernie’s and my anniversary. Or would have been if he didn’t go off and die.
“That man would do anything to avoid a party.”
“Who asked you, Stan?”
“I come back to life whenever there’s a need for commentary.”
The photo was taken when we were in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in a costume shop. My mother was there, too. Bernie dressed as the owner, she, an orthodox Jewish woman, as the madam, and I—well, you know what I dressed like. A few months later we got married and I had the idea of using the photo to announce the occasion. Inside it said: “We got hitched.”
We photo-shopped my mother out of the photo, clearly revealing the sign on the left: Beware of Texans, drunks, and loose women.
“And Awesome. Did you have a good luck at how she destroyed the sitting mat on the floor? Took out all the stuffing.”
“Quiet, Stan. This photo gave me the idea for the RockyTootsie audios.”
“That was your idea?”
“You’d be surprised where some of Bernie’s best ideas originated.”
“How do you explain not-knowing?”
“It’s a no-brainer. What’s the definition of a Jewish Buddhist?”
“A self-hating Jew.”
“True. Bernie liked to quote the one about not-knowing. The self-hating Jew not so much. But you’re certainly right about one thing, Stanley, Bernie wasn’t into celebrations or parties, wasn’t into candle-lit dinners or romance.”
“He probably made a joke of it all.”
“He made a joke out of everything! In all our years together he gave me exactly one Valentine’s Day card. You opened up the card and you heard Bernie’s voice saying: Hey Tootsie, I love you! accompanied by the silliest music in creation. That’s the music we used in the beginning of every Rocky/Tootsie segment. Just one Valentine’s Day card in 20 years and he couldn’t do it straight.”
“Of course he couldn’t do it straight. The Man didn’t do anything straight.”
“Yeah, but that was also his way of staying away from attachment, Stanley.”
“You want to know what I think?”
“I think you were the Man’s teacher of attachment. He was your teacher of non-attachment.”
“You can’t have non-attachment without attachment, Stanley.”
After his stroke Bernie lost all sense of proprioception. As a result he’d roll over in the middle of the night and ram right into me. He never felt a thing because it was his right side. Finally we got two smaller beds with a small gap in between. Sometimes we fell asleep holding hands across that narrow gap, only it could only be his right hand in mine, the one that was almost paralyzed. He felt almost nothing, but still wanted us to hold hands.