The Bitch Ponders, Part 4


After dinner one night at the conference, a group of us went to a party in a bar hosted by some literary magazines. I was talking to K, and a guy came up to her, and he looked familiar. I looked at his badge then told him to look at me. He looked and recognized me. It was M, whom I'd thought that I might see at the conference, since I knew he had entered a creative writing program. How odd that sounds--entered. But that is what you do--enter, begin, enroll in, matriculate into. We had been friends, confidants in the newsroom, but we hadn't seen one another since 1985. We both said the other looked the same. He was all hepped up on the notion of story, of story as a basic human need, hard-wired into our bodies, or wherever that hard wire goes. Our DNA, that's where. Then there were three of us--a Coastal poet he'd met on the street--and they were equally exhuberant about story. Everything is story, they said, and I said, no, ideas aren't story, description isn't story, and they said, no, it's all story. M had started a magazine which features the stories of "ordinary people," and other "ordinary people" are hungry, hungry for these stories! He is in love with story, she is in love with story, and I like a good joke now and then, but I think there's reflection and meditation and argument, though I could accept the argument that an argument is a story, because it moves linearly, or should. He was full of zeal for story, and for the character in his newish book, he was like an actor who learns his lines and character so well that he falls in love with them and him and must tell you about them or portray them because he has built so much energy around them. I would have preferred gossiping all night about the people we'd known in the 80s but it was pleasant enough to pal around with this old and this new friend. Oddly, we did not make story out of our friendship. But we could. And so there was one old friend who was still a friend, though I hadn't doubted it. Some friends you just fall away from when one of you leaves town. Despite the miracle of modern technology, etc., etc. And if you are in the same town one night, all the elements that created it are there and the friendship comes back alive.

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