DISCLAIMER: So not mine.
NOTES: Thanks to Luna. The two books mentioned by Alexander Theroux are titled Primary Colors and Secondary Colors.

HOW GREEN, HOW DEEPLY GREEN

Whenever the task before you bears for the afternoon the burden of meaning and music of the whole of your life, there will always be, I realize in sudden defeat, a scarcity of music. Whatever man the plea is sent to will not be the right man, and no amount of envelopes enough envelopes.
-- Melanie Thernstrom.

Dan woke up for the second time on Sunday and heard the stereo from the other room playing. He didn't remember leaving it on last night or this morning. He had forgotten to turn it off last night, probably sometime between the sixth call to Casey's various phones (cell, work, home -- speed dial numbers 2, 3, and 4 on his home phone) and the realization that Casey was screening his calls and had no intention of calling back or picking up. He had imagined the moment ending like in Swingers, with Casey picking up the phone finally and saying, "never call me again" and had decided to stop calling before that happened. He glanced at the clock - 2:30pm - and curled into an even tighter ball under the covers.

Leonie Powell was the girl. Leonie Powell had naturally curly hair, thick and long and she had wanted to be an opera singer but had settled for teaching voice instead. She had convinced him to buy the one Ani DiFranco album he had, the one playing now, singing her favorite Ani songs in her exquisite voice at dinner. They had only gone out for three weeks, and then Leonie moved to Los Angeles. Ani DiFranco didn't sound like Leonie Powell at all, but he still liked the album. "Fuck you and your untouchable face," Ani sang in the other room.

He should get up, he thought. Shave, shower, brush his teeth, go to the gym. Do something. Eat. He thought he should tell Abby tomorrow that the commanding voices in his head now sounded like a mix of his father and Casey, with some slight reverb on the "do something" part. Not that he needed to store up anecdotes for their next meeting at this point.

Yesterday afternoon, after Dan's little moment and while Miami chose their second round draft pick, they had met in Isaac's office. Casey had leaned against the door, waiting to get back to the desk, with his jaw set and his eyes hard. Dana had sat at the window in her huge green T-shirt, looking fierce and worried to death every other moment. Isaac had just yelled at first. The things he had said made Dan feel like he was being dissected without anesthesia. But it was all deserved. He hadn't deserved the kind look from Isaac after the yelling. When Isaac had told him to go home, right then, and leave Casey to finish the second round and not come back until Monday, and Dan had asked if he was being suspended, and Isaac had said simply, "You're tired. You've worked 13 days in a row and you're taking the rest of the day and tomorrow off" -- he hadn't deserved that either.

In the other room, the five disc slow ass shuffle had shuffled to a new disc and new song. He should eat. He could hear the new song, Michael Stipe singing over and over again that he was sorry and then, "You think this isn't me? Don't be weak." I'm sorry and fuck you, that was his morning and afternoon. He threw off the covers and went into the living room and turned off the stereo. He removed all the CDs from the stereo, put them in their cases and back on the shelf where they belonged. He grabbed the paper and turned on his laptop to dial in and find out how exactly how much bad publicity he had gotten today.

* * *

"Page Six has a nasty article. There's already editorials or columns on the other nets' Web sites about why we should care, etc." Dana said as she followed Isaac into his office.

"Yeah."

"Has JJ called?"

"Of course. They're pissed. It's not like Danny is their favorite person to begin with. Dana, don't worry. It'll blow over. He'll be back on Monday, we'll be fine and there will be much more interesting stories for everyone to dwell on." Isaac sighed and rubbed his forehead. He leaned back in his chair and looked up at Dana, still shuffling newspapers and printed out web pages.

"He called me this morning," she said quietly. "To say he was sorry again."

Casey had walked in and stood next to Dana, his face cold as he looked over at her. "Did you accept his apology?"

When Dana needed a roommate that first summer after getting her masters, Casey had introduced her to Danny "who wants to be called Dan. He's great, Dana, I swear, and he's interning at a TV station in New York, too, for the summer, so he needs a place. Seriously, I need to introduce you two right away," he had said in a rush over the phone. At the bar near Casey's paper, where Dan had gotten in on the strength of a near perfect fake ID, the three of them had talked about sports and broadcasting and she had agreed to let him share the apartment. At one point, when Casey had disappeared off to the payphone by the bathroom where he called Lisa, Dana had asked Dan if he preferred to be called Danny or Dan. "Dan," he said emphatically, "I'm fucking nineteen years old, damn it." She had giggled at how young he looked swearing about it.

He was a good roommate. Dan always washed his dishes, never left messes in the living room, didn't eat her food and his parents paid the rent on time. They never saw each other as they worked at the hellish schedules of production assistant and intern at separate stations, except sometimes on the weekends and late at night. Dan was dating some redheaded drama student from Juilliard with a silly name who, when she met Dana, had intoned in an affected, accent free voice, "You must be so strong to want to work in sports -- such a man's world." Behind her, Dan had rolled his eyes and rubbed the girl's shoulder, saying "Yeah, honey, Dana's just like Superman, except without the vulnerability to kryptonite."

Two days after the girl with the ridiculous name that Dana could never remember had dumped Dan, he had been mugged walking home from work. Neither of them had a car for some reason that week and they had come home from the emergency room on the subway, Dan leaning his bandaged head against Dana's shoulder and clutching his pain pills in his bruised hand. After tucking him in, Dana had called Casey from his bedside, full of fear of the city. After a few minutes, their hushed conversation woke Dan and he had grabbed the phone from Dana.

"Dude, Casey, the guy was a foot taller than me, I swear. Except, not. He was actually shorter than me. Like by a foot, actually. He may have been a midget, in fact." Dan had pulled Dana up onto the bed and they had sat with the phone between them. "Casey, I couldn't do any of those things -- he had a knife. He might have cut me and ruined my beautiful face before I could begin my brilliant career."

Laughing out loud, curled up tight with Danny like one of her brothers riding out a thunderstorm back home, she had listened to Casey saying, "I think brilliant and beautiful are slight exaggerations there, pal. You call yourself a journalist? Try to be more accurate." She hadn't been afraid when she fell asleep.

11 years later, she turned to Casey and said, "Of course I accepted his apology. Of course I did."

Casey snorted and turned and left.

"You don't think, " I ask Bob, as casually as possible, "that there's anything especially wrong with me?"
"Anything especially wrong with you?" he repeats. "Excuse me?"
"Not a specific kind of wrong," I say, "a deep kind. Like something that marks me as, you know --fundamentally different--"
"Hmm," he says, suspiciously, "I recognize those italicized words, that breathless emphasis. I thought we were giving up that way of speaking." And then: "Oh, you're talking about that LARGE PURPLE TRIANGLE in the middle of your forehead?"
"Yes, yes," I tell him tearily, passionately. "Exactly like that."
"Exactly?" he queries. And then: "No problem. Wear bangs."
-- Melanie Thernstrom

The package from his mother had been waiting for him when Dan got home on Saturday. The book, two boxes of matzoh, and chocolate macaroons packed with care by his mother. Any other day he would have laughed and told Casey with a laugh that his mother apparently thought that Dan would never find things for Passover in New York City, that his mother apparently thought there were no stores stocking things for a major Jewish holiday anywhere near him. But this was Monday after that Saturday, so he told Abby instead at the morning appointment she had made for him after his call on Saturday night.

"Passover is one of the big ones, right? You go to temple even if you never go during the year, like Easter?"

"Well, it's one of the big ones, but for Passover you have a seder at home for the first night. And some families have one on the second night, but not mine. And you can't eat leavened bread or corn or any grains, really, for ten days. I mean, that's how we did it, how my family did it. The night before the seder, you're supposed to clean out all the soon to be forbidden food from your house, and my Dad would suddenly start buying donuts and cake the week before, so the night before we would all five of us sit around chowing down on all these sweets and donuts.

"And you have to read all this stuff from the Haggadah before eating at the seder, and my grandfather would get impatient, so when it was his turn to read - - because everyone reads a passage, alll around the table -- when my grandfather would get impatient, he would point to where we were and say, all serious, 'Now I will read in Hebrew.' And he would start reeling off this Hebrew, plucking out one word or phrase from every paragraph, and then stop and point to some passage four pages later, saying, 'Now we are here' just to get to the food." He grinned. Abby did that thing she did where she just looked at him and waited for him to get to what he needed to say.

"Also, at one point, you throw open the door to let Elijah in and welcome any strangers who wish to eat, but my mother, she would shout, 'Neighbors, are ya listenin'? It's the Nussbaums again, makin' a ruckus.' That what was her mother would say."

"Are you going home for Passover?"

"No, I can't. We have two shows. And I think I still have a job, so there won't be time for anything really."

"Do you usually go home for Passover with your parents?"

"No. I haven't in, like, twelve years. I mean, when I was in Dallas, I couldn't. And in college, my parents decided to fly to Miami and have seder with my grandfather after he moved there and recently, I've just made other plans and the like. It's tradition to invite strangers and people who don't have anywhere else to go, so I've always done something, just not with my family. So it's been 12 years."

"So, not since Sam died, then."

He looked at the wall and thought, yes. Since then, no Passover with his parents or his remaining brother. Exactly. They had talked about Saturday and his fights with Casey and Isaac yelling at him and the way everyone in the control room had avoided meeting his eyes as he left, and of course, now at the end of this happy fun session, it was back to his parents and Sam.

"At the beginning of the seder, the youngest male does the fer kashes. The Four Questions that lead off the seder -- why is this night different from all other nights? Ma nishtanah ha lilah hazeh. And Sam would do that, in Hebrew. They teach you in Hebrew school at age 6, I swear. Even when it was just the five of us, or the five of us and my grandparents, he would still stutter and get nervous. And I would sit next to him and prompt him every year as he stumbled over it."

"Do your parents invite you home now that you live so close?"

"This year is the first time they have. But I can't."

"So, no time to spend with your family. You should do something however you can, you know. Anyway, time's up. Have a good day, and I'll see you on Thursday. Okay?"

He left. Down on the street, he stared at the streetlight. Don't walk, the sign flashed. He thought, okay. Around him other New Yorkers surged forward, treating all such lights as a simple suggestion. Some of them even turned to look back at him and sneer, but he thought he should do what he was told for a while. Don't Walk. He could wait until it was safe.

* * *

Dana slammed down the book.

"This woman is not a woman! It's a man pretending he knows what women are like!"

Casey grinned and sat down across from her. "So you're not liking the latest Oprah book from mom?"

"No. Not at all. She sends me these books -- I swear, Casey, she buys these things faithfully every month and she and my sister-in-law sit there over, I don't know, crumpets and bonbons and bond with Oprah about these books. Then she sends them to me. She thinks that if I read enough of these, I will marry well and leave sports and be my sister-in-law. It's programming. Like the Manchurian Candidate."

"Ya think?"

"No. She just wants me to read something other than budget reports and the sports page and Sports Illustrated. And one of them was really good -- A Lesson Before Dying, I think -- but most of them just suck. I should tell her to stop." Dana sighed. The budget numbers looked bad, the network was making ominous sounds about everything, and now Casey was staring at her wall.

"Why aren't you, you know, working? Sitting in your office, instead of, you know, mine?"

"There are many legitimate, work-related reasons why I could be here talking to you. You are, technically, my boss."

"No technically about it, mister. But you're just avoiding Danny, stop that and go back and make up with him."

Casey looked pissed off. He didn't get up. "You know, Dana, no." He paused, looked at the wall, at the garish cut-out woman on the book Dana had slammed down and at the floor. He said, "There's divorce proceedings for when you end a marriage, you can break up with someone you're sleeping with -- there should be some official procedure for ending friendships. Like papers to be delivered or something."

"You don't really want that. It was awful and you're mad but you'll get over it."

"'Cause it'll blow over? Since no one else will care in day or two, neither should I? I'm sick of it, I'm sick of him and I just want... I'd like to not talk about this with you."

"Okay, except, as you noted I'm your boss and his boss and you two have a show to do, tonight and for the rest of your contract. So..."

Casey stood up and said, "The show will be fine. I'll talk to you later."

Dana watched him leave. She fiddled with the smaller from yesterday bandage on her face and pictured herself eating bonbons and crumpets in an airy kitchen with her mother and sister-in-law. She didn't even know what bonbons looked like. And there was probably more to what her mother did with her day, and there was nothing wrong with being a housewife, but she just didn't want to do any of it. The budget reports were more interesting and Sports Illustrated had an article on Chris Chelios. She threw the book against the wall and giggled at the thump as it fell.

"Dana, is it safe to come in?" Natalie looked tentatively from the doorway.

"You know it. I have no more Oprah books to throw at you."

"You sound happy. Or is it just hysteria?"

"Probably the latter. What do you want?"

"I hear Jeremy got dumped by the choreoanimator." Dana almost corrected her, thinking, no, she was a porn star, but decided against it. Leave that fun conversation to someone else.

I have always felt, even at the worst of times, that if only the largeness of life could ever be overpoweringly felt, how green, how deeply green, how very deeply green it would be. And what a sign of grace.
-- Alexander Theroux

Natalie walked in and sat down on the couch, looking at Casey but with one sidelong glance at Danny.

"So, I'm reading this book my brother sent me. It's about colors."

Casey looked up but without any real show of interest. "Colors?" He said. "Like, science stuff about wavelengths and the speed of light and lasers or something?"

"No, no. It's three essays about what colors mean, you know, in literature and color theory and stuff. It's actually very interesting. Actually it's two books -- he sent me both -- with three essays each on the primary colors and the secondary colors."

"Is that a total of 18 essays with three essays on 6 colors? 'Cause I wouldn't think there would be that much to say about the color purple. Or the color red or blue.."

"No, no. A total of six essays, one each for each color."

Casey hadn't looked up since the first time and was staring resolutely at the monitor. "That's great. Really. Natalie, is there--"

"No, no. Listen to this: 'Green is power, nature's fuse, the color of more force and guises than are countable, a messenger announcing itself, paradoxically, as the hue of both renewal and reproduction or infirmity and illness.' " She paused for breath.

"That's nicely written," Casey said with a sigh. "Do you think we should quote that on the show? The Celtics, wearing green - nature's fuse - did something or another, et cetera." He trailed off and then focused again on getting her out of the office. "Or did you have another reason for coming in here?"

"Also, green represents both hope and envy."

"Yes."

She stood up and walked to the threshold, and stopped again. She looked at Dan, somewhere between a glance and a glare. "The Celtics aren't the only team with green uniforms. Name all the teams with green in their uniforms."

He would have blown her off any other time, noting that this question was pointless unless Dana had decided to do a feature on the color green in uniforms and poetry and shouldn't he be writing right now, anyway, but this was Tuesday after that Saturday, and he felt he had no choice. He wondered if there would be more challenges and questions. If Elliott would ask him to name the state birds and Will would ask him to count to 100 in Hebrew and French. Maybe Kim would want an essay on women's field hockey with annotations, a full index, double-spaced and at least 5000 words. He heard Casey's sigh.

"NBA? NFL?" he asked. Natalie just kept looking him, something between "fuck you" and "dance for me, monkey boy" in her expression, he thought. He said, "well, the Green Bay Packers. Seattle Seahawks. Do you count teal as a form of green? 'Cause then from the NFL we add the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Cougars--"

She cut him off, speaking abruptly, "Fine. Also, guys, we're long in the 50s, so be ready to trim, trim, trim." She turned and left.

Dan spoke tentatively, "My mom sent me a book. A book and a whole care package for some reason..." He trailed off. Casey just kept writing. Dan had learned yesterday and today that he could last about an hour with Casey in the office and still get work done. After that he would try to talk about something that wasn't the show and Casey would ignore him or shut down the topic and blow him off and then Danny couldn't work. Somewhere at some point he had read a passage in a book about which was worse: to lose someone forever and have them be far away and gone from you, or to lose someone forever and have them be right in front of you. He wished he could remember where he had read it, because he wanted to tell the author that the second version of loss hurt like hell. He decided not to try to think of an appropriate simile, to delineate exactly what his pain felt like. He closed his laptop and left to work in one of the editing rooms.

Periodically I got annoyed, testy, mad at the world, and would write bombastic letters to people I wasn't particularly close to, detailing quite explicitly my homosexual identity, not caring whether they would accept or reject me. I couldn't recall what set me off to write Fred. I might have failed a physics exam. Maybe someone called me a faggot on the street. It could have been Watergate.
-- David B. Feinberg

Jeremy was sitting on the couch in the editing room, reading a book. He greeted Dan with the same smile he had had when greeting him for the last two years.

"What are you reading?"

"Eighty-Sixed, by David Feinberg."

"And it's about numbers and their poetic implications? Or something else entirely?"

"Something else entirely." Jeremy had put the book down by the editing machine and had risen to allow Dan have the couch. Dan picked up the book and looked at the blurbs. "If Woody Allen were gay and wrote novels, he'd produce something like David Feinberg's Eighty-Sixed." He glanced at Jeremy.

"My brother sent it to me. Since he came out last year, he's been sending me all his favorite books. The ones he was afraid to admit he liked before."

"Is it good?"

"It's funny. But I think it's about to get sad. It's set in 1980 in New York City, and the second half is set in 1986. So, you know."

"Yeah. Is it send a book to your relatives month? Natalie's brother sent her two books, my mom sent me one, your brother -- wasn't Dana complaining about her mother sending her those Oprah books?"

"Yeah. But Dana's mother has been sending her Oprah books for the last year or so. So it's only three of us, really, receiving books out of the blue. What did your mom send you?"

"The Dead Girl, by Melanie Thernstrom."

"Sounds cheery. Upbeat, even."

"And it is. Except, not. It's a memoir, sort of, the author's best friend was murdered. And the book is about that, her best friend disappearing and dying and memory and loss and mourning. It's like a ray of sunshine and light every time I pick it up and I laugh and laugh. Actually, I finished it this morning."

"Sad ending, I presume."

"You know, " Dan paused and looked over at Jeremy, "swear you won't tell anyone --- I cried."

"Consider me sworn. Judging by how my book's going, you'll be walking in here in three hours and I'll be clutching a hanky to my eyes, anyway."

"There's this part towards the end, it's like three pages of horror. Not blood and guts and disembowelment horror, but like these awful, awful things happening to people. And it's all true. She talks about this Indian tale where a woman with a sick baby goes to a doctor and he tells her that if she brings him a mustard seed from a house that has never known sorrow, he can cure her baby. And she can't find the house. There's no house. And the book goes on to list all the sad things that have happened to her friends and it's unremitting. Also -- I think the doctor was just scammingg the woman. He knew he couldn't cure the baby so he sent the woman on this fool's errand. So it just seems cruel. The baby dies anyway, 'cause no one has a happy life."

"That would cheer me right up. It's like being dumped and listening to the Cure and Morrissey and Lou Reed for six hours. It just perks you right up."

"Yeah. Seriously, I was reading in the green room -- and I get to this part and I suddenly have this lump in my throat and I know I'm going to start crying and won't that just be the topper to my week? 'Cause someone's gonna walk in and then it'll be 'now Danny's crying in the green room, wah wah.' So I have to get out of there. And I'm practically running to the stairs to get to the 47th floor, 'cause I know my bathroom key works on their bathrooms."

"Our bathroom keys work on the 47th floor bathrooms, too?"

"Yes. And I went in to one of the stalls and finished the book and cried like a baby. Isn't that a great story?"

"Yeah. Are their bathrooms nicer than ours?"

"Um. They're as nice as the ones by the green room and so therefore nicer than the ones off the studio. Are you comparison shopping?"

"Just wondering. For when I get to the end of my book and everyone's dying of AIDS and I don't want to cry in our bathrooms."

"I wouldn't think less of you, Jeremy."

"Thanks." And then Jeremy gathered up his book and his notes and left the editing room for Danny.

What is the essence of green? It means life. It means go, grow, grass, class, the elite, the incomplete, it incorporates mold and memory, naivete, corruption, production, and the hope, always of new beginnings.
-- Alexander Theroux

At the rundown meeting, Natalie mentioned that the humans can see the color blue because of very developed retinas and that this was one of the last evolutionary events in the development of humanity. Also, she noted, green rooms like the one at their studio were originally painted green to relieve eyes affected by the glare of stage lights. Then she scolded Dan for leaving his laptop in the green room that morning.

"I had to go to the bathroom," he said and looked over at Jeremy. Jeremy grinned.

"Well, whatever, those things are expensive. You shouldn't leave them lying around."

Dana tried to regain control, as always, from their wanderings and mentioned that the network was showing a thing on lumber sports that they might want to mention. Will shuddered. Dan felt emboldened, for a moment forgetting that Saturday had been that Saturday, and asked Will, "Is it just the lumber sports that scare you or all things lumber and lumberjacks? If I start singing the lumberjack song, will you be frightened?"

"I'm not scared of lumber sports, Danny, but I am scared of you singing," said Kim quickly.

"I'm scared of the sports. They're going to hurt themselves with the axes and the things," Will said.

Elliott started singing, "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay..."

Will said, "I'm not scared of the song."

Kim said, "I'm scared of the mental image I now have of Elliott in women's clothing hanging out in bars."

Dana gave up and ended the meeting.

Walking out, Dan thought of the seder he wouldn't have tomorrow night. "Hey, Elliott, what are you doing for Passover?"

And Elliott didn't want to know about state birds and Will didn't need him to count. They agreed to meet between shows, break some matzoh from Dan's mom and say a prayer.

An hour later he walked into the editing room to find Jeremy sniffling as he turned the pages of his book. "The nurses, someone stole the guy's pen and he's dying. Everyone's sick and dying," Jeremy stuttered.

Danny smiled and left him to his book, heading for the green room to work there. He walked past Dana's office and heard laughter. There was a box of bonbons on Dana's desk, and Casey was reading aloud in a funny accent from the Oprah book while Dana choked back laughter and threw candy at him. She saw Dan walk by and winked at him over Casey's shoulder. And he walked on.

THE END.

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