My wife and I were sitting on our respective couches, engaging in a deep conversation about the nature of truth, beauty, and the soul of an artist, as we do every night. We certainly weren’t catching up on Pretty Little Liars and eating fistfuls of popcorn, dipping the kernels into the salty seasoning dust that had settled at the bottom of the bowl. No, art, beauty and stuff. Let’s go with that.
We heard a long, contented sigh from the other room, and what sounded like a self-satisfied chuckle. That latter noise seemed unlikely, as the only other being in the house besides the two of us was our dog, and he was more the sort to just sort of nod with his eyes closed instead of laugh. Not in a pretentious way, we always just got the sense that he was really taking in the joke.
He trotted into the living room from the office, and sat in the middle of the room. He then stood up, began to walk back to the office, and looked over his shoulder at us, expectantly.
“I think he’s trying to tell us something,” my wife said, just as the Liars were about to discover that Allie was alive for the 23,301st time, but also when we were talking about the Renaissance or whatever because we’re totally smart.
“What is it, boy,” I asked him, “Has Timmy fallen down the well?”
He closed his eyes and nodded. “Zing,” I thought to myself, “That one really landed with him.”
Again, he took a few steps toward the office, and looked at us. We shrugged, and followed him in.
On the desk was an envelope, made out to both my wife and myself. The stationary was heavy and high-quality, and had the distinct aroma of espresso and crisp linen. My wife and I theorized that he must have had it shipped in from his source in Milan, along with his coffee and suits.
My wife picked up the envelope, and with one of the many switchblades she has on her person at all times, opened it. She used this method because, she claimed, she wanted to preserve the intricate wax seal. I made a general noise of agreement, knowing in my heart of hearts that she wanted to remind me she was as dangerous as she was beautiful. Not that I would ever forget, but it’s the little gestures from one spouse to another that keep a marriage strong.
Our dog left the office as my wife pulled the letter out of the envelope. We both paused, waiting for the familiar sound of the burr grinder, followed by the milk steamer. As the apartment filled with the aroma of his evening decaf latte (double-tall, skinny), my wife began to read.
From The Desk Of Banjo L. Cagan
Creative Content Manager Supervisor Of Content Management, The Yearbook Office
My wife and I shared a smile. He and the site’s editrix had a bit of a falling out over a game of Cthulhu Dice gone horribly south. For a hot minute, he was on the verge of taking a high-ranking position at a rising Bay Area self-publishing platform, where he would oversee their very busy Rich White Tech Bros Complaining About Poor People department. But cooler heads prevailed, and one raise and title change later, he was back in the fold.
My wife continued reading.
Well, here we are friends. Spring-time in Los Angeles. And not a moment too soon, after the punishing winter we were made to endure. Why it just seems like the other day, we had to close the windows to keep the temperature in our domicile from dropping under 70, but now look at us! Windows wide open! My Man in his finest cargo shorts and whimsical internet-purchased t-shirts, My Lady in her brightly-colored ensembles that strike the perfect balance between deliciously edgy and perfectly comme il faut._
But the changing of the seasons is not the only momentous occasion here at The Apartment Cagan. As I hope you are aware (and if you’re not, I shall be very cross with my personal contacts at Paperless Post), in just a few short weeks, I will have been part of this household for an entire year.
An entire year! Think of it, friends! Three-hundred and sixty-five days of friendship. Three-hundred and sixty-five days of shared secrets, long, lingering stares deep into one another’s souls, and me licking myself. Really getting in there, and doing what needs to be done. Loudly. Smackingly. With a candor and passion found in our nation’s finest heroes, were they to lick themselves.
The point is, a year has passed, and while we are not in the business world, a group of chums such as the three of us are like a business. We all have jobs to do, and we have to keep the lines of communication open in order to make sure we do our jobs to our utmost abilities. Also, we have to make sure that there is toner in the printer, especially when we are trying to get a draft of our memoirs printed up for proofreading. And when I say that first “we,” I’m afraid I mean “you,” and when I say that second “we,” I’m delighted to share with you that Hyperion is this close to making me an offer.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. In business, there is the tradition of the annual review. A tradition I humbly introduce to you two, my trusted colleagues. Think of it as an opportunity to check under the hood, and make sure that our arrangement is firing on all cylinders. Now, I understand you may be preparing similar documents of your own, after all, our blessed anniversary is still a few weeks off. But as they say, the early dog licks himself and enjoys it immeasurably.
The good news is that overall, things are going swimmingly. I am well-kept, I have a fine variety of soft horizontal surfaces to lay upon, and you’ve been very accommodating and understanding as I try to master the autoharp. One day, I promise I will fill this apartment with music that will sound like a phalanx of automatic angels. Until then, be cool, I know it sounds a touch shit.
But enough about angels, the devil’s in the details. Now, please, let’s don’t think of what I’m about to share with you as a litany of your shortcomings. Let’s think of them instead as long-becomings. Which is to say, if you work at them long enough, you will become experts at not making foolish mistakes.
And with that, we are off to the races!
Over the course of the year, you have gone from forcing me to sleep in the living room, to letting me share your bed. This is a very modern stand for you to take, and I salute it. Love should be multiplied, not divided. But even as we enjoy our bed together, divided we remain. You two under the covers, and me...Above them. Exposed to the elements, the deadly night air, and of course, monsters. Therefore, it would be in everyone’s best interests if I slept under the covers, safe, warm, happy, and monster-free. Also, let’s treat ourselves right and get a California King. When in California, as they say!
As it stands, I dine twice a day on a bewitching melange of little hard things, crumpled-up soft things, and some sort of white fleshmeat. Sometimes chicken, sometimes tuna, all times delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I find myself wondering: Why bother with the hard things and soft things? I mean, they’re fine, I assume one can’t live by chicken and tuna alone. But what is life if not an exploration of our boundaries? What if one CAN live by chicken and tuna alone? And what if that chicken or tuna came with a nice side salad, and a tasty bit of pilaf? Why the mind boggles!
One of the greatest joys a Non-Me can have in life is to have a Me fall asleep on their lap. I wish I could clone myself, and while I was tampering in God’s domain, give myself a lap so that I may experience this unique bliss. But as I have yet to hear back about my Stanford research grant, this can only remain a tantalizing fantasy. But not for you! You can have a Me in your lap any time of the day, you lucky tall-walkers! So I ask you, why would you give up such an opportunity to stand up? Ever? Sure, the phone might be ringing. Let it ring! Maybe the remote is just out of reach. Enjoy that rerun of Chopped for the 17th time, you might learn something! Maybe you just want to stand up. Well you’re an asshole, then, a stupid asshole. Don’t do that. Bad people. No. NO.
And now, some quick final thoughts:
It’s not weird if I sit by your side as you’re doing business in the old WC. Turnabout is fair play.
I am just going to lick myself. I cannot make it any clearer. You can snap at me and try to distract me, but ultimately, you will have to pry my tongue from my cold, dead crotch in order for the licking to cease.
I’ll need the apartment to myself on Sundays from 8am to 5pm. I wish I could tell you why, but I have signed an NDA.
And that’s that. Lest you feel a tad demoralized, I will reassure you that I could not be happier.
As you well know, I used to live on my own. I lived with others before that, but that arrangement ended for reasons I cannot quite put together. Because of this, I know that this, this thing we have; this could end at any time. I am honestly grateful that I have had these three-hundred and sixty-five days with you, and I hope for hundreds upon hundreds more. The feeling of being wanted, needed, loved; well, that’s better than all the chicken you should by all rights be giving me on a near-constant basis.
Thank you for your continued patronage,
Banjo Lewis Cagan
With that, my wife folded up the letter, and tucked it back into the envelope.
Banjo was waiting for us on the couch. We sat, he hopped upon our collective laps, curled up, and fell asleep almost immediately.
As of this writing, we have yet to stand up.