Thursday, August 5, 2021

“I Love You, Man”

Once again Gerry “the Brain” Goldsmith was deeply ensconced in what he called “the valley of drunkenness”. Oh, sure, he would pay for it tomorrow, but that consideration had never stopped him before, and it certainly wasn’t going to stop him this time. But tonight he had an excuse, not that he needed an excuse, because for the past five or six hours he had been sitting here at Bob’s Bowery Bar with the crashing bore they all called Addison the Wit, despite the fact that he was not a wit and his name was not Addison.  

A lesser man would have told Addison to fuck off right from the beginning.

A lesser man would have refused even to pretend to read Addison’s novel-in-progress.

A lesser man would certainly not spend all afternoon and evening sitting with Addison at Bob’s and listening to Addison talk about his horrible novel and his theories of literature and his thoughts on the parlous state of American letters, and himself.

Or was Gerry a lesser man for not telling Addison to fuck off from the beginning?

But no, Gerry had not told Addison to fuck off. And why? Because he felt pity for the poor jerk.

Father Frank, the bar’s resident “whiskey priest”, had once explained to Gerry the Roman Catholic concept of “offering it up”: instead of weeping and wailing and gnashing your teeth in the face of unpleasantness, you “offered it up” to Christ, and thereby shared in your own way the redemptive suffering of Jesus on the cross, and all his stations approaching that cross. And thus you achieved grace, and possibly even time off from Purgatory. Father Frank had quoted St. Paul: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…”

Gerry was not quite able to rejoice in his suffering, but the thought that his suffering contributed to another living soul’s lack of suffering was some small consolation…

“Gerry, my man, a penny for your thoughts?” said Addison.


“I’ve been going on and on, and you’ve been listening so politely and attentively, and, yet, I detect a slight furrowing of your brow. Is it that you disagree with my theory?”

Gerry had no idea what theory Addison was talking about, nor did he care.

“No, not at all, Addison, in fact I think you make some very good points.”



“Because, you know, I sent an article adumbrating this very theory to the New Republic and I got it back with the words ‘absolute twaddle’ scribbled on the rejection slip.”

“Well, I would have to disagree with that assessment, Addison.”

“Thank you, Gerry, I appreciate your saying that. There’s only so much rejection a chap can take. And, quite frankly, that’s all my whole life has been: a serious of humiliating rejections.”

“Oh, it can’t have been that bad, Addison.”

“No, it has. And this is why it means so much to me that you really think my novel is good.”

“Well, uh, you know, hey –”

“May I say something I’ve never said to another man in my life?”

“I’m not sure,” said Gerry.

“Yes, how could you be sure? So, dash it all, and as Admiral Peary said at Chesapeake Bay, full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes, you may fire when ready, Smedley, I’ll just out and say it.”

Here Addison paused, and Gerry concentrated, as always, on enjoying one of these rare intermissions in Addison’s never-ending monologue. Gerry noticed that his glass had become empty again, for perhaps the twentieth time this night. Bob was right there, his head cocked, that small ironic smile on his face, the smile of a man who had seen it all, life and death and everything in between, all of it all around the world in his twenty years in the marines, and now saw it all right here in his bar on the Bowery.

“Sure, Bob,” said Gerry, to Bob’s silent question, “and one for Addison too.”

“Thanks, Gerry,” said Addison, after Bob had headed down to the taps, “but I think it was my shout, actually.”

“You can get the next one,” said Gerry.

“I love you, man.”


“That’s what I wanted to say, that I have never said to another man before in my life. I love you, Gerry.”


“I love you.”


“Not in a queer way.”


“I speak platonically. I love you, man. If I may address you as such. Perhaps I should say rather, ‘I love you, buddy.’ I suppose it does sound less queer that way. I hope you don’t mind.”


“And I have decided just this moment that I am going to dedicate my novel to you, Gerry.”

“Oh, that’s not necessary, Addison.”

“I think, dear Gerry, that you’ll grant me the right to be the judge of whom I should dedicate what stands to be my magnum opus to. My only question for you is should I use your full name in my dedication, i.e., “Dedicated to Gerald Goldsmith –”

“Well, it’s Gerard, actually.”

“Gerard, yes, of course, should I use your full name or would you prefer the partial anonymity of just your first name? You see, those who know will know who it is, anyway.”

“Okay, then, thanks, Addison,” said Gerry. “Let’s just go with the first name then.”

“So, just, ‘Dedicated to my best friend, Gerald.’”

“Sure, that’d be great, Addison,” said Gerry, and fortunately Bob was standing there with their two glasses of bock.

{Please go here to read the “adult comix” version in A Flophouse Is Not a Home, illustrated by the illustrious rhoda penmarq…}

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