An idea germinates, radiates roots through crevices that crack the routine order, and soaks up the energy of existence. On a Tuesday, Eddie and Liz realized that what they had never considered had finally happened. They had ignored its inevitability for years. Now, they didn’t regret it so much as they digested it. An acidic disgust enveloped them.

Ten years ago when the idea had arrived, naked but wrapped in a blanket of Unknown in a basket on their mental doorsteps, they sat basking in a café together and separately people-watching. At 7:53 p.m., they both fell in reckless love with the idea of being film industry moguls. The notion had occurred to them simultaneously, and each had blurted out to the other, almost in unison, “Hey! You know what we should do?!”

The spark had generated from the mist of both their minds, though no symmetry existed between the experiential paths of their lives, and they would move in lockstep towards their mutual goal. People fall in love with ideas in the same way in which they fall in love with people. It happens at laser speed or at a sloth’s pace, depending upon your personality, your level of momentary sobriety, and the chemicalization of circumstances. In this case Eddie and Liz had fallen in love quickly. Courageous and motivated lovers, they had wanted to learn everything there was to know about the new creature in their lives. That evening, began researching the idea of how to subjugate the American film industry. Surrounded by café sounds, they scrolled through countless internet search results on their respective tablets, calling out the site names as they opened the links so the other would not spend time on the same information. Their collective mind would divide and conquer the task.

After assessing their relative strengths and weaknesses, they decided that Eddie would devour film school, and Liz would tackle business school. They completed their studies, each at the top of their class, educating each other along the way. In the evenings, they read “The Art of War” aloud to each other, as well as various books about succeeding in business and the biographies of noted film directors. They formulated a business plan and pitched their idea to venture capitalists, eventually finding sufficient funding to open a studio: Extruded Plastic Studios, Inc., in homage to their childhoods and to their beloved idols, the Coen brothers. It was an awkward name, Extruded Plastic Studios, but they had liked how it felt necessary to slow down the tongue at the “xtru” in order to pronounce it with satisfaction.

Business ramped up. Their first production, a combination traditional Western and existentialist journey into the soul of a data entry clerk at a small, sex toy manufacturing company, had been a huge success. It had featured a cast of complete unknowns whose careers grew to stardom with velociraptor pace and ferocity as a result, causing them all fruitlessly to try to weasel out of their studio contracts. The studio grew faster than São Paulo, producing countless films of every conceivable genre and creating new film categories, such as reverse-nonlinear-galactic-horror-fantasies. Liz and Eddie rested on the pinnacle while they gobbled up smaller studios. They made and crushed dreams.

After a decade of sweat, cocktail parties, smugness, murder, betrayal, periods of false religiosity, silicon, narcissism, embarrassments, irony, and dissatisfaction, the film moguls now sat staring at one another in the same café where they had begun. It smacked them in the face with the force of Constantinople’s fall on a Tuesday as they peered into each other’s soul: they had fallen out of love with an idea. Once they had implemented their plan, it had no longer tasted of supernova. In fact, it was now cold and vapid. It had formed a black hole that they had been trying to fill with denial.

Eddie and Liz drank their coffee and permitted their minds to meld once again. For the last time, they walked out of the café, manicured hand in manicured hand. They sold Extruded Plastic Studios to a competitor whose lust for power overrode any degree of love an idea could engender. With the outrageous amount of funds they negotiated in the sale, they bought a motu in French Polynesia where they live today with their herd of La Mancha goats and two ungrateful, trilingual children.


Lost in the weeds

lost in the weeds tooToday my family buried my cousin while I wandered in the woods looking for beautiful things. Several times since I heard the news, I have attempted to write about what can happen to you by the time you reach thirty-six years of age. How can you finish anything by that age? He achieved all of the badges a man might expect to achieve by that age: son, brother, man, friend, employee, husband, and father.  Can you live a full life by thirty-six? I have to wonder if he felt done already, if he felt ready to go when he felt the first clot block his heart, if he felt fear or acceptance. When you go like that in your seventies, as my father did, maybe you can have a second to think, “OK. I have done everything I needed to do.” But at thirty-six, can you say that? I have no idea what my cousin might have done later. Maybe he would have helped his daughter with her homework, taken photos of her as her date picked her up for prom, danced at her wedding –all of those things that people with children may expect to do. I think he deserved to get to do those things. When your heart gives out at thirty-six, does that mean you have given all of the love you can? No one can make sense of this. I certainly cannot. We wander lost.


We met when we both fell out the same tree overlooking the Buffalo River in the midst of a storm that gave everyone a brief reprieve from the plague of locusts. Carcasses lay strewn about the footpaths and levees, and no one had seen fit to remove them. When we landed, the crunching of the expired delicacies made each of us fear for our bones until we realized the source of the excruciating noises.

Your left hand swatted my right foot. I thought of Twister just as my head connected with the knotted tree root jutting in subtle defiance of the Earth. You whispered a halting regret, as if you could have chosen to attempt to break your fall by placing your hand elsewhere. Perhaps, had we not been staring at one another in the shelter of the oak, neither one of us would have plummeted. The locust corpses, still dry under the tree’s dome of branches, pierced our skin to shallow depths. Once we stood up and caught our breaths, we looked at one another embarrassed, unhinging locusts from our legs, as the storm subsided and a light rain spit at us.

Later, you would say that we were connected temporarily, but long-term like the storm on Jupiter. For now, the sun disrobed itself of its clouds to make us copper again. Water squeaked out of the locust bodies as we trekked, only conscious of our breathing and whether we walked together in time.