He told me that I was serious and that I used to be all about having fun. Interesting, because I don’t think of that pre-Boston year (post Amy break-up) as fun. But now my life was about growing up. He was damn perceptive, this Blaze. We went into a book store where a lady told him to keep writing. We were walking back to the car after lunch (two sides of fries) and I pointed to a bookstore across the street. I told him I should try to buy his book, EPISODES: My Life as I See It. That was no problem for him, his mom’s friend worked there. Inside, this friend urged him to keep writing as a young girl searched the store for EPISODES. I echoed that shit and said that he was like more important that 99.9 percent of the writers who get paid regularly to write. Fuck it, he’s better that 100%. Who the hell is more important a writer than Blaze Ginsberg? I have no clue.
I was a bit protective of him when I went to his house, at the start of our day. His mom was a writer too. She waitressed into her thirties but now made $ as a full-time writer which is the dream. The protective part came when I asked Blaze about his book at her house and she hissed “Don’t just grab the book off the shelf, Blaze.” I wanted to kinda say to her Hmmm, maybe it’s not a big deal, maybe I really wanted to see Blaze’s EPISODES, Relax lady. Sure it was my fault that I never got around to purchasing it online when I was in Boston because I was an extraordinarily flakey pothead, but that book was important shit and I wanted to see it. A little intimidated by the son, hey lady? Blaze was the shit. I still haven’t read his book because I’m a fucking loser even though I know it’s probably the best thing on the planet. It’s his life in episodes, as in TV episodes, based on sitcoms, loosely- or based on the sitcom format. I don’t know, I’m not even going to begin wondering how brilliant it is, I just have to read it.
In Boston, I asked him to write something for my blog. Later, I went to edit it, “chop it up,” you know, play editor like a big boy, cuz Blaze was the only writer I could edit. I was about to chop certain words and things that I didn’t think worked but sure enough they did because he used like the 2nd and 3rd dictionary definitions of words, words whose first definition’s I was unaware of. And I’m not talking refrain and refrain. He was a brilliant writer, probably the most brilliant little modern piece I’ve seen and when people nudge him to write he just insists he wants a more normal, steady job. Something regular. I asked him if he knows anything about the finances of his book. Maybe he has enough in the bank from EPISODES that he doesn’t need a normal job. He could write, you know, what he was born to do. Do this world a service Blaze! Show ’em who’s boss. Who’s really mentally challenged or whatever? He knew nothing of his finances. I was suspicious about his mother and the rest of his family. Protective over Blaze. But everyone is protective. It’s easy to be protective. His mom was protective of him when I went to pick him up. She didn’t have to meet and chat with me, but she did.
The original plan was to go to the beach. We went looking for a spot and while we were driving around the lot I observed a supremely hairy man getting in or out of his truck. He was a stocky, hairy fella. I laughed a bit. Told Blaze that perhaps a man like that should trim himself or cover up if he plans on parading the coast. I was stretching for conversation, one of those things I knew was stupid as it was coming out of my mouth. What an asshole I am. We kept driving around the parking lot. I was in my mom’s hideous huge white Dodge Durango. I expressed disdain for this sort of activity, driving around, looking for a fucking space in a busy parking lot. I didn’t even have a license at the time. Blaze’s mom would have been furious had she known I had no license. I hated the DMV. I was home six weeks or so before I got my license.
Eventually Blaze suggested that maybe the beach wasn’t gonna happen. I was cool with not going. I looked at his arms an noticed they were pretty damn hairy. The striking difference between Blaze pre and post-Boston was his look. He definitely looked like a skinny boy when I left for New England. He was 20. He worked at the grocery store in the same shopping center as my Starbucks. He wore his pants really high and of course his name was Blaze. I chatted him up when he came in. He entered the coffee shop mostly bored, looking to satisfy something- hard to do in a Starbucks when you don’t drink coffee. But there aren’t too many options in grocery store shopping centers. He usually settled on one of the stupid over-priced fruity sodas. His disdain for his bagging job was far more articulate than my disdain for my job. I thought he was so cool and he acted nonplussed, which of course made me pursue the friendship more. I put in the effort to be sincere. He doesn’t give a shit that I have an autistic cousin. I’m sure everyone has an autistic something or other. He’s probably sick of people wanting to believe THEY are the insider, THEY can relate. He’s probably sick of the patronization. I kept at it and eventually we were pals. Pals enough that I talked to him a handful of times during the six years I lived in Boston.
Upon my return a few months ago, I noticed that his hairline had receded quite a bit and he’d gained weight. His stubble was thicker and, like I said, his forearms were pretty damn Hairy. Again, I’m an asshole.
When we left the parking lot, we decided to go to lunch. A girl he had a crush on worked at a mediocre Mexican restaurant on La Jolla Village Drive. Blaze always had crushes. We ain’t much different. Maybe I’m fuckin autistic. He told me once that he didn’t wanna date an autistic girl or special needs girl and he hated it when people suggested otherwise. Made sense to me.
Sadly, his crush wasn’t present at the Mexican restaurant. He never gave up hope though. He was looking pretty much the whole time. His gaze was always above the table, out toward the front of the restaurant, around toward the server’s station. Ultimately I realized that his crush wasn’t only the reason for our lunch venue, but perhaps the whole day. I don’t remember how this crush began. I think he had simply fallen for the waitress a couple of months prior while eating there. He ordered two sides of fries. Chips and salsa were free. I had eaten and was broke so all I ordered was a coke. We were our waitress’s nightmare. The table was full of free chips and cheap fries. Whatever. This was Blaze, he was cool as fuck. Autistic. Our bill was like 12 bucks.
I asked Blaze if I was different from before I left and he said with a lot of expression that I sure was. Oh man was I. He told me that before, I was all about having fun but now it was all about growing up. Everything was so serious now. He was good. Blaze was good. It was all perception, mood, body language and he was dead-on. Most other people would have said the opposite because their analysis of me would have been based on what my current plans were. Upon coming home it wasn’t about going back to school or what I was going to do for a real job, but I talked about my “writing partner” and writing screenplays. Silliness. I was still frustratingly silly. The opposite of getting serious. Before I moved to Boston, it was all about “getting away.” I was still in my twenties. To me, at the time, it felt serious. Or in retrospect, I like to remember it as serious. My break-up with Amy sent me into a depression and life was all about picking myself up and getting things in order to move to Boston. I think of it as a serious time. But Blaze said back then I was all about fun. Having fun. Now I was so serious. For me, life was now all about GO GO GO and growing up, he told me.
They made a banner for me. My Starbucks coworkers. A Goodbye Aaron banner. I already felt old then, at 26. They were like 20. A couple of them were still in high school. But I drove around with them, a Honda CRV, where you can put the back seat all the way down so that you’re just looking up at the sky as you cruise around. Clouds jerk right and left and the tops of trees pop in and out of view. I enjoyed that. Damn. Why so serious? Shit got real I guess. Blaze knows. Blaze knows.