One of the worst things, maybe the worst thing, for me, about losing somebody you love is that all the inside jokes die with them. Not just inside jokes, but ongoing arguments and half-finished conversations.
Even the idea of an afterlife, or our fantasies of ghosts, don’t satisfy this problem for me, and not just because I don’t (think I) believe in either one. All our projections of ghosts and angels, they stay the same forever, and with a few exceptions, the conversations they’re always having with their living loved ones are so big and so profound. The idea that my mother may still love me and still be watching over me is some comfort, of course, but this does not satisfy my desire to call her up and tell her that I just figured out it’s the baby from Growing Pains who’s ranting about the Holocause in The Pity Card. (Shut up! This is an actress we saw in some other movie one time and went half-insane in the PRE-INTERNET ERA going through movie reference books trying to figure out who she was!) (As for “The Pity Card,” that I never really got to share Zach Galifianakis’ genius with my mother is one of my greater regrets in life. Does that make me a bad person? Should I just imagine that when I saw The Hangover last fall, she was looking down on me and laughing so hard she wet herself, except GUARDIAN ANGELS DON’T PEE THEIR PANTS?)
It’s probably this sort of useless pop culture ephemera that is the very most likely to get lodged in my brain, the very category of half-finished conversation that is likely to drive me nuts for years and years. Because I’m nuts and maybe a tad shallow, of course, but maybe also because first off, these sorts of conversations are much more concrete than others. Also, these sorts of arguments are the sort that are just so easily settled now that I live in the AGE OF THE INTERNET and can just whip out the iPhone.
Here is where I share with you that years ago, I was Internet-and-phone-best-friends (OK, and briefly, boyfriend-and-girlfriend) with a dude who was a few years older than me and lived in Florida, and the only reason the latter fact is important is it means he had MTV and I didn’t. Yes! Now, we had cable when I was growing up. We always had cable. But until we got a satellite dish when I was 16 or so, there was just our local cable provider, which did not carry MTV. As a 12-year-old I was so incensed about this that I seriously considered circulating a petition among my peers to change this, except that that probably would not have gotten anywhere, because teenagers living in conservative small towns are basically NOTHING LIKE THE MOVIE FOOTLOOSE. By the time I was 16 I was really opposed to MTV for reasons having to do with my having discovered “REAL independent music” and “principles” in the intervening years, so I never watched it. Except of course for “Daria.” I also didn’t even mind that everyone at school CALLED me “Daria” for some reason.
But back to me at 12, having a cool older guy friend who was clearly cool because he had MTV! And watched it! There were certain videos he talked about a lot. One of them was the video for Gun & Roses’ “November Rain.” He found it sort of mysterious and fascinating.
For a couple of years, whenever VH1 would do a History of Rock Video A to Z, I would try to make a point to watch the “N” videos to see if I could catch this apparently fascinating, but also possibly very horrible and mysoginistic, video. I never did, and in the back of my mind, I ALWAYS WONDERED. In the meantime, my friend went to college, took a couple of women’s studies classes and, like all of us, got sort of a sense of humor about the things he’d liked when he was younger. But then he up and died on me.
And it was only a couple of months ago that it occurred to me I could look up this video on the YouTube. Oh Roger, if you’re out there somewhere, I really hope you can see me laughing at how fucking deliciously tacky Slash looks during the wedding scene, and what a dork your 16-your-old self must have been to find this video so damned intriguing and cool.