So you’re sorry. Sorry that you don’t love me anymore. Sorry that it’s not meant to work for us.
Great timing. Your message, I mean. Five minutes before I was due on stage. You must’ve known I’d see it before I went out there. Standing in the wings. Checking the good luck texts. Even got one from your mother (“You’ve really hit the big time. I saw Joan Rivers and Lenny Bruce at The Bitter End when you and Ronny were but twinkles in an eye! Break a leg, sweetie. Love from the one who brought loverboy into your life. xx”). And there was your greeting, nestled in amongst them all. A black hole in a sparkling galaxy. I can only think your timing was deliberate. Like method acting. Like the way you’ve always said my delivery needed toning down. Less upbeat. More deadpan. Go in hard, get out early. Wasn’t that what they taught us at acting school? If you wanna be a stand-up. In hard, out early. Like you and me, eh? Full on from the beginning. To the end? But I wasn’t ever planning to get out, early or late. It seems like that’ll be you. Your plan. In this comedy imitating tragedy.
But it worked. You slowed me right down. Like I was in a trance.
If you want to know, the routine went over really well. I ran with the hipster café number. Started off with the gag about menus dribbled into the sawdust on the floor. Then about the new super seed that no one could pronounce except for the waiter. From Peru. And how you know it’s good for you by the length of time it sticks between your teeth. Perfect for the Village crowd. But your “sorry … I realise I don’t love you” kept rolling around the back of my mind. So. Less manic. So. More … measured … subdued.
Thinking about it, maybe I should arrange for a catastrophic surprise just before every gig. Like shock therapy without the electrodes. To keep me detached. Mono-toned. To get my timing right. Yes. And then I could build it into my act. The way so many comics do who’ve just had a baby … or turned lesbian. Pooh and hairy legs. Leaking breast-milk and furry cups. That’s it. I’ll run a new routine about emotional pain as the alternative to lithium for manic-depressive stand-ups. And maybe something else (not about the baby we talked of) … but about the comic jilted on her big night. Like the small-town gladiator at the Colosseum in Rome. This funny girl from Avonmore, Pennsylvania. At The Bitter End, 147 Bleecker Street, NYC.
You say by the time I get home you’ll be gone. Better that way, you said. Well the M train’s late, so there’s no hurry.
They liked me. At The Bitter End. They want me to come back.
I want you to come back.
To me … please.
Not in hard. Not out early.
Not this too too bitter end.