I tell him to forget the stuff. Retrieving it will likely cost him a limb.
What good has stuff ever done us anyway? Stuff is what keeps George
teaching guitar lessons to Presidio brats and me writing jingles for pharmaceutical commercials. Stuff keeps him on the road six months out
of the year managing tours for bands that actually made it. When we
bought the house, we said no more tours. We would be stable. Watch TV,
cook spaghetti. It wasn’t as easy as we thought it might be, though. He
leaves tomorrow for a six-week tour. Although of course, now, he won’t
be able to go.
“We were told explicitly to stay out of the house,” I say.
“I’ll be careful.”
“If you die in there, I will name this baby after your mother.”
“You wouldn’t dare,” he says. “We need to find your hard drive.”
The hard drive holds my work-in-progress, a jingle commissioned by
Xerox-Clorox. Xerox-Clorox have merged to create a new line of anti-
depressants. They’re my bread and butter these days—tinny piano tin-
kling while the serially ill play croquet or bake macaroons, a list of side
effects scrolling alongside their wholesome activities. We used to front
our own bands, go on our own tours, before George and I became rent-
a-rockers. Back when we were cool.
George tightens his fist as if readying for a quest. Perhaps his headstone will read Fool crushed by broken house while attempting to retrieve
washed-up punk’s pharmaceutical jingle masterwork.
“Stop puffing out your chest like a movie star! This is a clear example
of toxic masculinity. What if the roof comes down over your head? What
if there’s an electrical fire?”
George, usually a pushover, pulls reusable grocery bags from the
“How do you expect we’ll pay Patty back?” he asks. “Guitar lessons?”
While George ventures into the wreck that was once our house, Beanie
and I sit in the car and call my friends. Most of our friends live the way
we used to before we bought the house, crammed into shared San Francisco flats, clinging to their rent control for as long as they can bear. Harriet and Juan don’t pick up. Theresa has some German shoegaze band
crashing on her floor. I stare up at the blue autumn sky and ask no one in
particular for serenity. It’s a useless trick I learned in Al-Anon. Serenity
doesn’t come. I call Patty.