I was recently invited to attend the Celebrate the Life Ahead gala, a fundraiser for refugee resettlement that included a silent auction component. Naturally, I opted to participate in the same manner that I do all of my socialization: at home, from behind my computer. While my wife was off gallivanting, hobnobbing, and giving some sort of speech that brought the audience to tears, I was crushing the competition.
The auction had actually opened a couple days earlier, but only the suckers bid early. Apart from a dummy bid to make sure the system works acceptably well, the real pros know that the only bid that counts is the one that wins. As an aside, I suppose I should mention that this isn’t information that I’ve gleaned by virtue of being some sort of auction addict; I did a stint selling vintage dolls on eBay, which was an experience that taught me a variety of interesting but generally useless things. In any event, the key take away here is that all the action happens in the last minute or two. And, at the end of those two minutes, we claimed our prize: John Green.
Well, I mean it’s not like we got to keep him. But we did win a “Coffee Date” with John and his best friend, Chris. Naturally, when John found out about this while speaking with my wife at the gala, his reaction was – and I’m paraphrasing – “What the hell is wrong with you?” At least, I assume this was his reaction, since he is well aware that my wife sees Chris literally every day, seeing as how he is her boss, and he could have set this up for free at any point. You will note that, while many of my bios list me as an “Author, programmer, and lawyer by technicality,” none of them have ever described me as a “financial planner” or “all-around smart guy.”
Anyway, somewhere behind the scenes, Chris presumably vouched for us as not being obsessive fans who would, for instance, covertly break into John’s house under cover of darkness, night after night, so that we could shave his head and gradually collect enough of his hair to construct a life-sized John Green doll that would sit on our couch with us as we snuggled up as a family together and watched movies, and so John opted to instead invite us into his home for dinner (a decision he would almost certainly regret if he ever read this, partially because of the whole “hair doll” thing, but mostly because, as a writer, he should rightly resent the length and poor quality of this trainwreck of a sentence).
Now, what could convince the Greens to put up with us for the night? The answer is this. Go ahead and watch – this story isn’t going anywhere (seriously, it’s not).
And so it was that my wife (Una) and I were invited to dinner with John, his wife/yeti Sarah (I was too embarrassed to ask which was the more accurate title), Chris, and his wife, Marina. (Incidentally, I should briefly note that I recognize the unfortunate implications of the fact that the previous sentence has defined all of the women in this story in terms of their relationships with their respective men; unfortunately, the structure of this story has made any alternative constructions unwieldy). (I should further note that, at the current rate that the story is progressing, this blog entry will be complete in late 2017).
In advance of our arrival, Una and I decided to get the Greens a host/hostess gift, and stopped to pick up flowers along the way. Fun fact: the Dionaea muscipula, commonly known as the “Venus flytrap,” develops white flowers in the spring. If you’re thinking that giving someone a live plant that isn’t particularly aesthetically pleasing and needs to eat live insects is about as thoughtful as giving someone a puppy and should therefore not be done by any decent human being, then you’re right. And if, after hearing that they actually sell Venus flytraps in stores, you are wondering what kind of person would actually own a Venus flytrap, the answer is “John Green.”
You’re welcome, John.
A quick note: as we move into the anticlimax of this increasingly long-winded story, I’ll be obscuring some of the details in order to avoid violating the privacy of a very nice couple that graciously invited us into their home, and also because Una gets angry when we’re forced to share our hair dolls. Okay, yes, John and Sarah are both public figures with Wikipedia articles that I could easily use as a reference to determine what information is already publicly available, but let’s be honest: I’m not known for backing up my writing with thorough research, and this blog is no exception.
Okay, back to the “story.” When we arrived at the Greens’ house/apartment/hidden jungle base somewhere in the American midwest, John, Sarah, and Chris met us at the door. Shortly thereafter, a small dog ran out and greeted us with the unrelenting enthusiasm that only a dog can muster. In light of the fact that many websites stupidly offer pet names as security questions, we’ll call him and/or her “Holy Shit, That Dog Has a Dinosaur Costume!”
Shortly thereafter, we began the night with a meat and cheese plate. We sat outside, where the local variety of airborne, bloodsucking insects sniffed vaguely around me, then swarmed Una. In the background, an unspecified number of children–some of whom may or may not have been somehow related to the Greens–adamantly refused to eat their food, and probably killed the Venus flytrap. Meanwhile, Holy Shit, That Dog Has a Dinosaur Costume! discretely ate the meat casings that Chris (probably) thought he was safely discarding. The discussion covered a variety of topics, such as [censored], or [redacted], or how to dispose of a dead body. Once the insects finished feasting on Una, we moved the party inside. Dinner consisted of an undisclosed number of undisclosed dishes, one of which may or may not have been a bird that I can neither confirm nor deny as being chicken. Thankfully, the Greens weren’t looking when I mangled the “chicken” as I somehow managed to extract its thigh bones without pulling any meat off, and then crushed several additional joints like I was some sort of enraged ogre. As another aside, this is not dissimilar to my approach to jigsaw puzzles, debugging software, and having sex; that is to say, there’s a lot of swearing, I typically break something, and I’m usually glad that I’m alone.
During the meal proper, we covered topics that we could only discuss with John Green, such as how only an idiot would reread his own writing after he’s done with it, John’s involvement in certain unnamed movie adaptations of certain unnamed books about faulty stars, and how Una and I are decorating our nursery. The children, sensing weakness, exploited our presence to postpone bedtime. We realized that Una was wearing Sarah’s old maternity pants, in a way that we could plausibly play off as being the result of a hand-me-down chain rather than another callback to the “hair doll.” In short, a good time was had by all, except for possibly John and Sarah Green, and probably the Venus flytrap, and almost certainly that dog.
Eventually, the night ended, and we stepped out into the infinite blackness beyond the Greens’ doorstep. While this might appear to be a somewhat melodramatic statement, it bears mention that I don’t think there is any place on earth as dark as the Greens’ front yard at night; fortunately, one of the advantages of the digital age is that, at any given moment, whatever happens to be in your hand can double as a flashlight.
As we left, Holy Shit, That Dog Has a Dinosaur Costume! followed us to our car and, as we backed out of the driveway, exhibited an intense curiosity about our front tire, or, possibly, the sweet release of death.
Una and I hesitated as the thought struck us both: How I killed John Green’s Dog would make an excellent blog title. But then it occurred to us that it could be like with the Grim Reaper – if you kill John Green’s dog you become John Green’s dog – and I’m sure as hell not wearing a dinosaur costume. In the hopes of avoiding a fate worse than death, I got out of the car to move Holy Shit, That Dog Has a Dinosaur Costume! out of the way, only to find out that it was a trap: as soon as I was back out in the abyss of the Greens’ front yard, the dog hopped into the car and excitedly barked for my wife to hit the gas while there was still time…the two of them could just put it all in the rear view, leave the Greens and the children and the dinosaur costumes behind…just drive until they ran out of gas…
I can only assume that my wife thought long and hard about this, but in the end, she’ll always be a cat person.
P.S., Apologies to Marina, who has been edited out for length.
P.P.S, Apologies to my readers, for adding a “P.S.” to a blog.