“Last night I had a dream that we went to Disneyland, Went on all the rides, didn’t have to wait in line,
I drove you to your house where we stared up at the stars, I listened to your heartbeat as I held you in my arms,” -from “San Dimas High School Football Rules” by The Ataris (Roe)
“San Dimas High School Football Rules” is a song by the Ataris. It is also, still, one of my favourite songs. It has been since I was 22 years old. I am now 37. What the fuck is wrong with me?
All I can think about is how our flaws guided our stories. Some of them were serious, some funny, and some just ridiculous. My three major flaws are that I am an idealist, a dreamer, and a control freak. I romanticize things to the extent that reality – past, present, and future – becomes a fiction that I build expectations around. When those expectations aren’t met, the bottom falls out of the dinghy, the oar slips away, and the tsunami wave approaches with speeds not seen in this galaxy.
I only hired two other writers for Astoria because HBO forced me. I still held creative control, but I’m pretty sure I will never talk to them again. Or they won’t talk to me. At least they have credits from a successful show. I still love that song though because somewhere deep down inside me naps the hope of my 22 year-old self for that perfect night with the perfect girl under the stars. Then we wake up in each other’s arms and then pick everything up, and drive to Las Vegas to see Wayne Goddamn Newton because it’s a part of the song we both love.
What the hell is wrong with me? I’m 30-fucking-7.
It was our flaws that led to some great things as well. Omar has the most addictive personality of anyone I have ever met. When I met him he was pretty clean, but as his acting career started to stagnate, he spent too much time at his bar gig, and too much time at the after-hours doing everything and everyone. He and Nikki had just started hooking up around the time his father died and he went from blow-et-al, to heroin. I think Nikki – flaws include a mothering complex and the need for approval only an actor would understand – fell in love with Omar the moment we found him flopped on the floor in our washroom, drooling, with a needle in his arm. Her need to save met his need to destroy, and it was a match made in fucksville. But again, they’ve made it so far. Omar rehabbed everything out and Nikki wombed out their twin girls. When heroin and self-hatred meet the need to mother and hug out the pain, it’s nothing less than one of the greatest love stories of all time. Omar is also a dreamboat – think Laz Alonso – and Nikki is pretty much the cutest thing ever – think Aimee Teegarden – so the physical stuff was also there.
Chris Hanson, my lifelong friend. His greatest flaw came out the day Holly showed up to his last gig with his band at The West 22 Room before he went solo and full stop singer-songwriter. Chris believes in people to a fault. He believed her when she said she was sorry for cheating on him. He believed her when she said she would never do it again. He believed her when she said she didn’t do it, even after Cynthia caught her. Cynthia – using her greatest flaw of being an unbridled and brash kiln of emotions – almost murdered Chris when he got back together with Holly after the first cheating. Then she almost murdered Holly after the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth cheatings were revealed. Threats were made, hair was almost set on fire, and a mild choke out occurred.
While Cynthia’s flaw saved Chris that time, Chris, no doubt, saved Cynthia when she was going to stay at her hated publicist job instead of pursuing the restaurant venture with Janelle. He believed in Cyn’s future more than she did, which is also why I think he was there when Cyn spoke with Erica about moving to LA with me.
Erica’s major flaw is that she is unpredictable, leading to times of being unreliable. It stems from the night she lost her mother. The choice that night was to grab a drink with all of us or visit her mother at the cancer hospice. As far as Erica and Nikki knew, their mother had a few weeks left on her terminal diagnosis and she encouraged the girls to continue to live. She appreciated their visits, but she didn’t want them with her all the time. When she passed away the night of the drinks, Erica never really recovered because she said that throughout her mother’s two year decline, she valued being with her the moment she died more than the moments she spent with her as she dying. She missed that moment and it has made her question pretty much every decision since that night. Except for some, like moving to South America with her then boyfriend, and future fiancé, Damo, and then leaving him without notice to return to Toronto when he proposed to her. There was also the breast lump issue she wanted to check into, but she kept that secret until Nikki and I found out.
These are only flaws as I see them, however, and it is questionable if they are even flaws. Regardless, they are the reasons we love each other and have fought and made up. They are the traits that have driven us to act on our dreams and will continue to drive us toward and away from each other.
When I leave Toronto again for LA, maybe Erica and I will spend a night under the stars and then drive to see Wayne Newton? Maybe we won’t because she is already on an unpredicted flight to Toronto to talk things out? Maybe she’s going to Tangier because of that Bob Dylan song she loves? Maybe San Dimas High School will get rid of its football program and people will stop quoting Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure?
I don’t want to live in a world where that happens. I know that if I ever get to the place where ending things for good comes into the equation because of such a situation the following will happen:
Chris will believe in me beyond that darkness.
Cynthia will beat me with words or otherwise.
Nikki will fall in love with me for a few seconds due to my pathetic nature.
Omar will become addicted to saving me.
And I will idealize everything into my next fiction extravaganza.
I don’t know what Erica will do.