Weekend Wanderer: When Your Muse Quits

weekend wanderer

I have always said that as long as Willie and Indy are alive, I’ll have stories. 

But half of that equation has gone to Marion’s bar in Nepal and the other half has just … stopped. 

Don’t get me wrong. Willie isn’t huddled under a blanket somewhere, immobile now that Indy is slinging shots in Nepal. 

She’s sad, sure. But Willie — well, Willie is a fighter. 

Even when there’s no reason to fight.  

And we all know those fights became stories. Stories I told you guys. Here. In this space. 

But in five weeks, Willie has given me exactly nothing. 

How like her it is to be this uncooperative. 

During those long years she cared for Indy, her memory held information like a colander holds water. And I was constantly in trouble with her. Remember when I took away her car keys

That was just a little taste of the ire I’ve drawn from Willie over the years. I was, at various times, in trouble for going to the Temple of Doom too often but also too infrequently. I was doing too much and not doing enough. Willie was angry when I vacationed in North Carolina, but also angry when I eschewed North Carolina for Maine. 

But in her widowhood, Willie’s memory is as on point as the Bolshoi Ballet.  

And I can do no wrong.  

Now, I don’t want to say that, in the dark days of Indy’s illness, I made jokes about Willie. 

But that’s because I want you to like me. 

I’m thinking about something I read once. It was Stephen King. He said if you’re writing, your days as an accepted member of society are over. 

Well. If it works for Stephen King then, yeah. I made jokes about Willie. 

In my defense, I told Willie every single one of those jokes.  

It’s really not my fault she doesn’t remember them. 

It is my fault both she and Indy laughed at them. 

I told stories of Indy’s failing health and Willie’s failing memory. Those stories, and the jokes within them, helped me cope with a situation that, if I really sat down and thought about it, would have turned me into Aaron Paul on Breaking Bad when —

Well, I don’t want to spoil anything. 

But you probably don’t like me anyway, right?  

So that situation would have made me like Aaron Paul on Breaking Bad when they rob the train and Jesse Plemons murders the witness and Bryan Cranston so clearly doesn’t care and Aaron Paul just unspools. 

I would have been like Aaron Paul.  

Just unspooling. 

And really. You should have watched Breaking Bad by now. I mean, it’s been over for so long, its spin-off series is over. 

I feel like this one is on you. 

I don’t know. Some people, when the going gets rough, some people – they drink. Some get lost in boxes and boxes of cookies. Some can’t sleep at night. Some watch hours of The Crown because they want to go back to London. 

And some people tell jokes that are just wrong. 

I do all the above because I’m an overachiever and an Aries and a firstborn and that’s just what I do. I really don’t have a choice. 

So, Willie. 

Willie joined the shuffleboard team at the Temple of Doom. She went back to attending Friday happy hour. She found a new pinochle partner. She met Mummers. 

I can seriously find no joke in any of that. 

Recently, Willie and I were talking about Willie’s finances, which my husband says I know better than our own finances and which is 100 percent true. 

And Willie joked — Willie joked! — that she was changing her will to leave everything to me. 

It was a joke, and I knew it. But — but Willie isn’t the funny one here. I’m the funny one! Me! 

So I told her I was going to tell. I was going to tell my siblings that I was getting everything. 

“I thought I could count on your discretion!” Willie laughed. “It was a joke!” 

Not the way I’m going to tell it, I told Willie.  

And that’s who I am, apparently. A Willie mocking, Breaking Bad spoiling, lying reprobate of a human being. 

That you probably hate.  

So, you know. Make some room, Stephen King. I’m working my way up to your stratum. 

Or I was. Until Willie became so docile. 

Willie called me this week. No “hello.” No preamble. She was like a hawk, dive-bombing its prey. 

“Have you been investing my money without telling me?” Willie demanded. 

I laughed. It was an absurd question. The only investment I made was — yeah — right in front of Willie. 

As in, she signed the paperwork herself. At her kitchen table. With her own pen. 

And you know, if you really want to inflame Willie’s anger, laugh instead of answering her question. 

I invoked John Hughes in that moment because I have found, over the years, that most of life’s difficulties can be handled through the wisdom of Roadhouse, Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw, and the films of John Hughes. 

When in doubt, claim a polar bear fell on you. 

In She’s Having a Baby, Kevin Bacon’s grandmother maintains that Elizabeth McGovern is only marrying him because she’s a gold digger. 

“There’s little or no gold to be dug!” Kevin Bacon’s cantankerous grandfather quips. 

And that’s what I said to Willie. “There’s little or no money to be invested.”  

But I smiled. It was nice to catch a glimpse of the old Willie. 

I’ll never be Stephen King without her. 

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