And Did I Ever Thank Her?

Yesterday I went to my appointment with Lisa Capaldini, only yesterday wasn’t the day of my appointment. It was the first time in sixteen years I did something like that. Over eager?

Today I went to my appointment with Lisa Capaldini, and though I arrived without writing assignment, short story entitled “Beginner’s Luck”, in hand, she forgave me. I promised her—truthfully—that I had been pouring much energy into the effort. Lots of research and lots of remembering.

Too much remembering, for I’ve had so many beginnings. So many good beginnings. Great beginnings. Lucky beginnings. Starting with my birth—to parents you only wish you had.

The beginner’s luck was supposed to be about my having gotten it right the first time, relationship-wise, with Allen and the perils that come with that. The “false” expectations of the second time, so to speak.

I also told her that I already had the characters I was going to trot out for this work of fiction: I am borrowing characters from a novel—ironically a second novel—that I had been working on. They’d get fleshed out a bit more and after all, Nathaniel F. Abbel, will have had some beginner’s luck of his own.

I printed out the previous blog entry and took it with me to her office and handed it to her. I let her off the hook: the printed copy was folded and in an envelope, not sealed, and I offered that she could read it later. She didn’t wait.

I must admit I enjoyed watching to the play of reactions across her face. She’s seen so much illness; occupational hazard of a doctor. She’s seen so much death; occupational hazard of an HIV specialist, especially one who’s been there for most of it. She’s professionally world-renown at this point—and that’s the least interesting thing about her. Mull that one over a moment. I’ll wait.

But in spite of all that, she had reactions to what I wrote and for this I was touched. Near the end of it, she saw the nickname I had for Allen and asked, “Yog?”, pronouncing it to rhyme with “log” and I corrected her that it was short for Yogi, as in Yogi Bear: when Allen and I were in St Louis, where we first met in person and where everyone—and I mean everyone saw the spark between us, jokingly said we looked like Yogi Bear and Boo Boo at 6’4” and 5’6”.

“Bear???” she said, laughing. “Oh God.” Knowing my aversion for the self-selected social retards.

“No, no,” I said. “These were straight people and it was 1993. Not bears. Just height difference.”

“So were you called—”

My nickname didn’t stick.”

“Thank god.”


So she folded the paper back up and put it back in the envelope and said she intended to reread it later and started to ask something but I stopped her before much got out. I told her that it was something I’d published on my blog and on Facebook, so it wasn’t private, but even if, she could show it to whomever…

Then we had one of our silences, those which bring the world into sharp relief and bring me a sort of soft relief. Happiness descends and the lesson I learned so long ago—the heart of the lesson in Beginner’s Luck—comes to the fore and I am at Peace:

There is a knack to being Happy, and all it takes is to remember that It’s Possible to Happy.

As she and I walked out of the exam room I said to her, “Thank you for taking such good care of Allen, you know, back then.”

“Oh, it was very much my pleasure. You know that.”

Of all the billions of things I know, there aren’t many things I know better than that.