First, for some context. For this title hardly speaks for itself.
By Susan Glenn, I refer to this little known but seemingly apt metaphor for the ‘girl from back then’, ‘the one who got away’, ‘the one who I could’ve, should’ve, but didn’t and thus’. And considering we live in a delightfully digital decade, its only fair to use this kind reference to give wings to my words, and of course some fodder to your eyes.
So please. Indulge me. If you haven’t so already.
Now, hoping you’ve got the general drift of things, let me begin.
It had been over 10 years since I’d last met Susan Glenn. ‘Met’ is perhaps a tad misleading – I’d never really met her before, only seen, stalked, often surrendered. She was ideal, perhaps too much of an ideal for me to realistically pursue. And considering we went our separate ways without so much as a single word, you’d understand my complete and utter surprise when I found her sitting next to me on my first day of work, a full 10 years later. How could I let this pass?
‘Susan Glenn?’ I confidently enquired. My self-esteem and general swag having taken an unusually sharp turn since the premature heartbreak years ago.
‘Yep. That’s me. Do I know you from somewhere?’
‘Umm that depends. But no, you probably don’t. And that’s quite all right. I guess I just wasn’t ready then.’
You could probably argue that patchy acquaintance was a better way to go. One could begin with a common past, establish an air of familiarity, then perhaps breach the “comfort” zone? Nonsense. It’s crap. It’s a trap. With Susan Glenn, and trust me when I say this, you’re much better off NOT risking nostalgia. That cobbled path typically leads to:
‘How nice, we were in school together!’
‘Oh really, in the same class?’
‘Wow, surprised we never met’
‘Hmm what a shame’
Followed of course by the classic pause, shudder, shrug and shift.
Instead I suggest you start anew – wipe the slate clean, bring out the new silverware, lather up on some fancy body wash. Its love love again and you get to serve.
Meandering back, this early judgment call led to a rather fruitful first few weeks for our relationship. Susan Glenn and I, mere strangers at first, were soon regulars at the podium coffee bar, walking famously the thinly veiled line of platonic friendship. It was building up to quite a karmic climax. The only thing left was a final plunge of courage, which I wholeheartedly endorsed through several subtle invitations to my apartment. Unfortunately for me, most of these were met with not so subtle rejections.
Unforced errors, I coached myself. Keep your eye on the ball. Serve and volley now. Serve and volley.
‘How about it then Susie?’
‘We can grab some dinner?’
‘And a quiet movie?’
‘I can cook some chicken?’
‘Tender succulent’ chicken’
‘With peas and little greens’
‘And sweet potatoes if you’re keen?’
‘And radishes with oranges and hot cinnamon forages?’
‘And wine! Some wine? We can always end things with wine!’
‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’
‘Chardonnay then? 18? Nappa Valley? Sideways?’
‘Done! So done! Let’s rage on wine! But beware, I might just bring my evil twin tonight!’
Now, if you were a simple man like me, you’d be rather pleased by the last statement. Typical thoughts would stroll in the areas of role-play, drunken swaps, naughty maids and what not. And I hope you can then understand my deep and bitter disappointment when I found Susan Glenn at my door that night, hand in hand with her identical twin sister, instead of the pink negligee & harp I had secretly hoped for.
Karmic climax all right.
So let me ask you this – Have you ever fallen in love, twice? Have you ever met the woman of your dreams and then have you met her again in the same room, the very next minute, drinking the same brand of wine, spilling it on the same woolen sofa? It’s not a pleasant feeling. It’s not even an unpleasant feeling.
Here I was, at the peak of my swag, staring intently into the kohl brown eyes of one Susan Glenn, while Glenn Susan, her identical twin sister, with her kohl brown eyes, stared right back at me.
Numb is probably a better expression.
It soon dawned on me that this was a crossroads of sorts. I’d have to choose and choose quickly. On the face of it, and what faces they were, this call would be a tough one. Who should I pursue? And why? I needed to interrogate further for clues. Questions perhaps? I mused. Music, art, literature, politics? Politics? Nerdy. So bloody nerdy. What would they think? He’s called us to interrogate us? But I couldn’t just sit and watch could I? I needed to know where to begin. Questions then? I’ll keep it simple, I promised myself. The clock was ticking. So was the wine. I gulped a mouthful and launched headfirst.
Me: So girls, what’s with all this talk on America’s foreign policy?
Susan Glenn: Policy? Please! It’s more like a fallacy!
Glenn Susan: Yeah, fallacy. Hmm. Wine sucks. You got some whiskey?
Me: How about some Simon and Garfunkel then? Should we set the vibe?
Glenn Susan: Simon and who? Funkel is such a funny sound
Susan Glenn: Funkel! Funkel! Uncle! Funkel! Funkel! Uncle! Funkel! Funkel!
Me: Hemingway? Tell me about Hemingway. You must surely like Hemingway?
Glenn Susan: Like? Love.
Susan Glenn: Really?
This was getting difficult. I liked Susan Glenn. She was cute and odd and activist and cuddly. Very very cuddly. But she dissed Simon and G. And that’s, well, basically treason. But so did Glenn Susan though she did like her whiskey. And Hemingway. And you know how hot it is when a girl likes her Hemingway and her whiskey. Dammit! This was harder than I thought. I’d have to see them alone if I had to make up my mind. But how? And where? And when? Unless…maybe. No, it couldn’t be… I’d have to be quick….
The weakest bladder.
Glenn Susan broke first. Apparently, it had something to do with the younger twin with the weaker plumbing. Though I think a quarter of Blender’s had something to do with it. It was just me and Susan Glenn again – like the old times. Cute, odd and cuddly. Cute. Odd. And cuddly. That’s all I needed to remember.
Me: So, the weather’s kinda crazy now isn’t it Suz? The rain makes you feel …you know…sort of…
Susan Glenn: Mellow?
Me: Exactly. Mellow. I love the feel of mellow.
Susan Glenn: I really don’t get it when people ‘feel’ mellow. What is with feeling mellow? Mellow. What does it really mean? Mellow. It seems like such a mediocre, middleweight excuse for a word. I’m sorry, but it makes me really mad. Ooh, the weather’s so good; I’m feeling super mellow. Simon and Garfunkel make me feel so bloody mellow! America’s foreign policy is so friggin mellow! Dammit! Pick a side already! Good, bad, black or white, pink or purple. But why mellow huh? Hemingway, now he wasn’t mellow. He wasn’t afraid to feel.
Me: I thought you didn’t like Hemingway.
Susan Glenn: I don’t.
Glenn Susan sauntered in just then, tilting the majority emotion in the room from tense to recently relieved. Our metaphysical state of symmetry was quickly destroyed as Susan Glenn rushed in to do her business. She seemed in a hurry to get away.
Hardly discouraged, I shifted my lens to the now sprightly Glenn Susan. Hemingway, whiskey, yeah. This girl got my drift.
Glenn Susan: So what were you guys talking about?
Me: I’m not so sure. Just the weather at first, though somehow the conversation seemed to hinge on the word mellow. Mellow. And your sister seems to hate the word mellow. Mellow. I love the word mellow. I’m not sure why. Do you like to feel mellow?
Glenn Susan: Mellow? Hmmm. Mellow is good. What’s wrong with it? It’s pleasant. Easy. Simple. Yeah. I like to feel mellow; sometimes. Not all the time but sometimes. Other times it troubles me. As in I can get very mellow. Like really mellow. For days and months, even years. That’s why she hates it maybe. She’s seen me. It’s like a… As in you need to stop when it goes too far. Can’t use it for everything you know. Like the Americans you were saying – they’re not mellow man, they’re scared. I mean, just bomb that shit already! And those new popcorn bands everyone’s talking about these days – Some guys and sons, some feathers and bottoms, some bees and bobble-heads…what’s all this mellow shit anyway? I mean why have all you men gone soft huh? Where are all the real men? Men like that…that Hemingway guy. He was tough. And so rough. And aawwesome in that movie last year.
Susan Glenn strolled back in, this time with an inspired look on her face. Something serious had gone down in the chamber.
Susan Glenn: You know, I was thinking, it’s not that I hate the word mellow; it’s just that people have really ruined it for me. They use it like a badge of something deep and dark and dangerous, but it lacks…it lacks…
Glenn Susan: Perspective?
Susan Glenn: Perspective! Yes! It lacks perspective. It seems so hollow, so fake – like an act of some kind. Aarrgh! I hate this! That’s why I respect Hemingway. He didn’t pretend to be mellow. He just wasn’t. And that’s why it’s bull crap to call America mellow. They’re so not mellow.
Glenn Susan: More like yellow.
Susan Glenn: And that’s why Simon and G sound so hip. They weren’t trying to be mellow. They just were.
Glenn Susan: Unlike your Featherhead Pajawamamas, who just aren’t.
Susan Glenn: I guess what were trying to say is that mellow is actually good. In fact it’s great.
Glenn Susan: And so is Hemmingway
Susan Glenn: And Simon and Garfunkel
Glenn Susan: But not America so much
Susan Glenn: Yeah, we don’t love America so much
Glenn Susan: More whiskey my friend?
Susan Glenn: Funny isn’t it, how we all love the same things.
Me: Yeah. Funny. Excuse me one minute.
As I ambled into the washroom, this time to bid my rightful turn, my mind and my bladder were ready to burst. Was it really possible that my idea of Susan Glenn was made up of two Susan Glenns? That she only worked when she was a bit of both? Mellow and yellow and hello dirty fellow? A Hemingway hating, whiskey drinking, almost activist, mellow hipster tripper? That having just one was like having only half a chocolate pie? How could I choose between the cookie and cream, now that I’d tasted them both together?
It was clear to me now. I had to let it all go. So I just stood there in the moonlight and cried myself to pee.