Close-ups Hurt Comedy

While I shoot blanks and you age out, the complicated circus car chugs the ring, throwing up spare parts like ladies tossing underclothes over a boudoir screen.

In an epigram for you, my bride, my confidante, always the avid reader, Nabokov reminds us that the difference between the comic side of things and the cosmic side depends upon a single sibilant.

We’re standing in the aisles when our whey-faced planet, swathed in the Human Mop, goes whirring by, giving way to a gorilla named Peter the Great, his flatulent elephant filling the room after our planet’s sudden departure and, all but invisible to the naked eye, decked out in rococo tusks by happy-go-lucky prop men.

Soon the Buddhists are filing in and, in violation of the ground rules for any good walking meditation (silence!), talk about themselves in the third person.

Paul’s knocked off his mule on his way to Damascus and discovers God.

Because the comic side isn’t always funnier, flying men remind us, when we go through the air, to use our heads as a rudders.

Thank Steve I’m a funny writer; if not for him, my closest friend in life, I’d still be stuck in my old job, doctoring obits.

I can’t be funny.

On the road home, we train our gaze on the nighttime sky: Venus shines brightly just before the break of dawn, the Seven Sisters to close in on the red star Aldebaran.

Recounting to each other the death-defying acts we’ve witnessed, I joke that when I die you bury me with our ticket stubs.

Our old debate ensues: I say you’ll live longer and you remind me that mine are the genes of centenarians, and for the first time ever, you say in a way that reeks of codependence that you want to go first, because you can’t bear the thought of being alone.

If you do die first, I conjecture, it will be the most profound experience of my life.

[Silence.]

Coming to light, the deep dark secret I might be happier on my own isn’t the only one I’m harboring: Every time the show gets over I never imagine the road home without you.

I love you—I love your company!