Picture Steve Martin on an airplane with a big old glass of white wine. And in the window behind him you see the aurora borealis. [Sigh.] That’s part of a movie I—that was on… I wasn’t really watching it. I, I saw a little part of it. The message seemed to be, “Isn’t it great to be rich?”
But he’s also lonely.
I’m—this is fragmentary. I didn’t see much of this movie. [Throat clearing.] It’s based on a novel that Steve Martin wrote. And he’s getting Claire Danes to take off her clothes a lot, which I couldn’t tell: is it supposed to be creepy? Because it’s creepy. I mean does the movie think it’s creepy? The movie seems to think it’s creepy. But the movie also… wants to… indulge in it. And on the other hand I can’t really tell whether the movie thought it was… creepy.
I didn’t watch the whole thing, which… that’s my [short laugh] cross to bear. [Laughter.]
In a work meeting yesterday we were talki—Maisie was saying that she mostly likes movies about rich people. Forgive me if that’s… if that’s inaccurate.
But I think that’s what she said, and I know she loves Nancy Meyers, for example.
And I wondered how many—what’s the percentage of movies that are about rich people? A large percentage, I would think. The ones we love! From the thirties. Where… uhm… you know, Dinner at Eight.
Oh! We have a Samsung smart TV, which [laughter] I suppose is listening to everything I say! I mean why would the CIA be interested in me? They wouldn’t, uh… but… that’s one of the devices… it just came out in the newspaper that the Samsung smart TV is one of the devices that… uh… the CIA has figured out how to hack in order to spy on people.
I only mention it because I’m sitting in the room with it and I hear sort of a [stifled laugh] high-pitched—now I sound like a real maniac. I hear kind of a… an electric hum.
But by no means am I yet crazy enough to think that it means the CIA is… you know… checking my conversation for hints of sedition.
[Short throat clearing.]
I just feel…
No matter how comfortable your life is, you can—and maybe this goes back to movies about rich people, all these rich people and their problems. Will they ever find true happiness? Moans the rich person.
No matter how comfortable—and look. I couldn’t be… more… I couldn’t be luckier. Sure, our furniture is a wreck. The cats have seen to that.
[Long pause. Breathing.]
I’ve got nothing to complain about but for some reason… I don’t wanna have a meeting today! [Laughter.] How petulant.
There’s not much to… tell. Our friend Tex stayed for more than two weeks. And…
He became so much—you know. Just part of our… like the [laughter] son we never had.
He knows all of our… secret… failings.
You know, night descends. There’s one cat that won’t stop meowing unless you walk into the other room and acknowledge that he’s carried his toy rat into the kitchen.
So Tex got to hear just how much that cat meows.
And has seen our catering to this cat’s every whim.
And has heard me asking, rhetorically, “Why didn’t we just have a child?”
Then when, uh…
I had a lot of thoughts right after Tex left, about how it feels to have a visitor for a long—I don’t think I’ve ever… we’ve ever had a visitor for such a long period of time.
And after… a visitor leaves, there’s a… oh! I can take a nap whenever I want and Tex isn’t gonna knock on the door.
But there’s also… well, you miss that person, obviously.
And maybe there’s a… an increased…
I was scratching my head. In case that… that sound… I was scratching my head with the same hand in which is being held this… monolith of… [bird tweeting] inarticulate… [bird whistles again] repression. This digital recorder.
I think I was going to describe… the feeling of stagnation, perhaps, that accompanies the… departure of a good friend. Oh, I’m gonna keep doing the—the—this day is gonna happen over and over. When my friend was here at least he was a witness to it.
This… I’m just babbling. I’m not quite… I haven’t grasped the… the feeling I’m trying to get across.
[High bird whistle.]
And this isn’t it.
The day at least served as a form of entertainment for this outsider. This… uh… person that we… love… this… being. Is a visitor like a… like a god? Is a visitor like an angel?
I mean a—angels are always walkin’ up to people [laughter] in the Bible, like, “Hey. I’m just a guy in a robe. Uh, can I have some of that mutton?”
So visitors are like angels, perhaps. And then when they leave, the… ex… [bird whistling] the… radiance [bird whistling] they impart… to your… [coffee being poured] humblest activity…
You know! Your everyday life is a… treat! To a visitor.
It’s exotic and… uh… amusing, and…
And with the departure of the visitor there goes the heavenly accompaniment.
Also the feeling…
Also the feeling that… uhm…
I mean, eyuhhh, is there a smidge of envy for the person who can vacate this space…? Look. I realize that I’m not… smart. But the ability to move between spaces, to… oh, look, is this Anastasia comin’ back? Or is that a tree again?
You know, I keep…
That’s the second time I’ve looked at that tree and thought it was moving.
Well, this is it, people.
I guess that’s my new… thing.
Trees are gonna start…
I guess that’s the way it all falls apart.
Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time. During a period of light employment, he spoke into a digital recorder whenever the mood struck him and transcribed the results, accumulating the two thousand pages from which this column has been extracted.