I spent Saturday morning having the following conversation over and over and over again.
(FAUSTUS dials phone. HE listens to the phone ring. The person on the other end of the line picks up.)
FAUSTUS: Hey, [Name of Friend], it’s Faustus . . . Well, I’m calling to thank you so much for coming to my book release party last Friday, but I’m also calling to ask how you are . . . There was kind of a little health thing at the party. You don’t happen to have a fever and a stiff neck or a rash, do you? . . . Oh, I’m very glad to hear that, because unfortunately somebody who was at the party fell ill on Thursday with bacterial meningitis and died yesterday . . . Now the way bacterial meningitis works, it’s virtually certain that she was infected after the day of the party. And even if she had been infected already, it’s virtually certain that you weren’t exposed; you would basically have had to make out with her . . . Right. If it hasn’t shown up by now you’re probably fine. But since there’s a theoretical chance, though it’s infinitesimal, that you were exposed, I wanted to call and tell you that, you know, if you do find yourself feeling feverish and notice a purple rash or a stiff neck, in the next few days, you know, it might not be a bad idea to go to the doctor . . . Yeah, in fact there is—they just give you penicillin or some other thing with a name I can’t remember . . . Oh, I appreciate that; it wasn’t actually anybody I knew–it was a friend another guest had brought with her . . . Yes, they were good friends, unfortunately . . . You know, I would love to stay on the phone, but I have a bunch more of these phone calls to make, so can I call you back later and we’ll talk about that? Great. I’ll talk to you soon. Sure, no problem. Okay. Bye.
(FAUSTUS presses “end” on the phone and dials the next number.)
I imagine that, distressing as this news must have been for my interlocutors to hear, they probably received it better when communicated this way than when communicated in the style of my first conversation about the issue, which went something like this:
FAUSTUS: Hi, [Name of Friend], it’s Faustus.
FRIEND: Hi, Faustus, how are you?
FAUSTUS: I’m fine, but I need to tell you that somebody who was at the party came down with bacterial meningitis and died yesterday.
FRIEND: I thought you were calling to ask whether we should see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull today.
FAUSTUS: Ooh, what time?
Wow… This is the kind of wierd stuff that makes for a great mention in upcoming books. Thank god(dess?) for that, anyway!
I hate to be glib (if that is indeed what I’m about to be), but talk about a perfect time to have dropped off the radar by being inundated with work, depression, and stress and not being able to meet the simplest of obligations or opportunities.
I hope the night itself was smashing, though.
After reading your book, she said, “Having experienced perfectly punctuated prose, my life is now complete.” Thus, she expired.
Oh, this is soooooo you! This is the kind of awkward situation that just has your name written all over it. Reminds me of this post. It’s four years old, and it has stuck with me… just like it was yesterday. 🙂
Sometimes, I wonder if your life is fictious or not. But I know it isn’t. I hope the rest of the party-attendees are okay.
Hey, some people who would have a hard time choosing between Indiana Jones and getting bacterial meningitis.
Gee, and I thought I had a strong reaction to your book.
As much as I would love to hear you read someday, Faustus, I’m afraid I have to take a principled stand against any book reading where it’s not safe to make out with the other guests.
How awful. How hilarious. How awful that I find this hilarious. I am really conflicted here. I hate you for making me laugh.
Ooh, your new book is doing so well! I’m so proud of you.
You’re right up there on the Borders Books website, in the glbt section. That means that either they’re selling a ton of your books, or none of the other gay books are selling anything. Perhaps they don’t offer free sex at their book readings. But if I ever make it to one of your readings, I’m going to demand a health certificate before I take my kiss.
God, that sucks!
there was a time when i would have looked askance at such a tasteless reduction of real-life tragedy to mere blog-fodder; now, of course, i have my own blog and would kill for content like this.
Oh wow, your book reading had a fatality. Mazal Tov!
your book is brilliant.
and i agree with “marc” about that post.
one of my favorites.
been reading you for years 🙂
I am never coming to one of your parties.
Perhaps you can have the guests at the party forcibly quarantined in case they decide to show up at your next event (except the random attendee or two who’s planning to attend a Republican soiree in the next few weeks! Fun!)
I was just about to email you and cry about how I missed your Southern California book signings and tell you that I really wanted to die because of it…but apparently some b*tch beat me to it! Oh, was that mean?