Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fish of April

In France, April 1 is Fish of April. It's a bit like April Fool's only more complicated. It floats my boat. On Fish of April you stick a paper cutout of a fish on someone's back and then you trick them and then when they figure it out (or if they don't and start crying) you say 'Poisson d'Avril!!' and then the person raises their eyebrows and twists their arm around their back and there, sure enough, is a fish. They smile and sigh and you both laugh your heads off. Well, that is if you didn't really upset them.

I got got once good - and it wasn't on Poisson d'Avril. For my oldest, dearest friend, every day is Fish of April. He is the only person that knows how to get me so good - I am definitely gullible but I can usually sniff out a ruse after some amount of time. I'm not sure if it's because he knows me so well or if he's just an expert Poisson-er, I suspect a bit of both. Anyway it was the best getting I have ever got and it still makes me laugh and cry at the same time when I think about it. It's got that fantastic tragic edge particular to a truly great Poisson. Almost a little too far, but not so far as to tell someone that their mother is actually alive or something. Just teetering the finest edge of wrong. So right.

We had arrived in LA for one of my dearest friend's wedding - I was bridesmaid. We had never been so poor - a few weeks earlier Mr Rabbit had won our month's overdue rent at Vincennes, putting our last 30 euros on one horse, which won and then another won and won and became a thousand. We ate a steak in the sun that day at that little brasserie outside the Chatelet metro where you get waited on by an 8 year old and we felt like kings.

But we couldn't afford to get to the wedding so dad spotted us the cash. It was humiliating but not as humiliating as the idea of not being able to go. So we went. And when we arrived at the Standard Hotel, we thought it had been paid for by the wedding party - another terrible horrible humiliating moment. The car had been valet parked and our credit cards were laughing inside the machine as the mermaid laughed inside her fishtank behind the counter at an article she was reading in Variety. Cool people sashayed past in bikinis. We were Paris-winter-pallid. There was a glam sci-fi feel to the foyer and I wondered if one of the slick lifts might whisk me graciously down to hell. The gentle but condescending man at the desk agreed to wait an hour until we could make 'arrangements' for the money to be paid. He gave us the key. We checked into our room. 

On the other side of the door we burst into panicky laughter. Teary bursts of FUCK! What were we thinking? It was nobody's fault - it's just we would have stayed in the Comfort Inn instead of the Standard had we known we were paying - we had been living off lentils for weeks. And that wasn't the worst of it. Mr Rabbit had a meeting in forty minutes on the lot of Fox Studios and needed to activate his phone so he and his manager could hook up in the parking lot. It was a big meeting. No credit meant no phone credit meant no Bump meant one-chance meeting fuckup. FUCK! He jumped in the shower and I spent ten minutes frantically calling everyone in LA I knew begging them to call T-Mobile to buy some credit. Ah, scumbag. I never felt so scummy!

Success - Mr Rabbit tore away and I called my dad feeling like the worst kind of infection - a grown up fetus, a disappointment. He was kind and transferred the money. I sighed and jumped in the shower.

The phone rang. 

I jumped out of the shower. 

A voice on the line said,

"Mr Rabbit please."

The voice sounded important - American. I put on my best secretary voice.

"I'm sorry, Mr Rabbit is out at a meeting. Can I take a message?"

What happened then is, in my memory, so embarrassing that I have blurred a lot of it out. I sat there naked on the carpet, hip 70s style curtains blocking some of the sun, but allowing one stripe to cut across the room, which I lay in. The man was in a boardroom with a group of music producers. They wanted Mr Rabbit. They said he was the next big thing. In a moment of squeamish humiliation he said,

"We think his band could be the next Jet,"

To which I replied,

"Ooh yes - definitely - even better.

My voice was fake and I was a fucking idiot and my best friend continued and continued. It rose and rose - him starting to try to give me hints by means of exaggeration,

"We want to sign with him NOW..."

"Multi million dollar contract..."

"The hottest new thing..."

Oh my GOD. We had made it! Yesterday I was crying in the airport over how poor we were and today here I was naked on the carpet of the Standard and we had DONE IT! Mr Rabbit was out there and he didn't even know - he was it! Images flashed through my mind - beautiful houses, magnificent clothes, red carpets, sellout gigs, magazines, food... My friend, not expecting this to last so long began to get tired of the game and said,

"In fact, his friend Mr Wa recommended him very highly."

To which I mortifyingly replied,

"Oh, Mr Wa is my oldest, bestest friend! We've known each other since we were born!"

To which he replied, starting to get very bored and also feel very bad.

"In fact, Mr Wa is here right now!"

But I still didn't twig.

"Bunny!!" he said into the phone.

"Mr Wa!" I said. "I can't believe this is happening!"

He cleared his throat. "I..know!!" I wonder if he was at that point actually wondering if he could somehow get his Poisson to materialise. How was he to know what a state we were in. What this could mean at this particular point. He was just joking - I don't think he had ever rung up and just said, "Hi, it's Wa." There was always something. But this time, in the state I was in, in the place I was in, I had just needed to believe so bad.

"Bunny, it's Wa," he finally had to repeat. "There's no boardroom."

I was silent for quite a long moment.

Then a laugh similar to the pained gut-one we had had on entering the room that day built and simmered in my gut:


I was silent again for a moment. And then with a particular tang as yet unexpressed in this lifetime by my physical being I said:


It rose from deep within my soul like an Exorcist vom:

"YOU CUNT!!!" And I began to roll around the floor clutching my stomach in a sort of childbirthy agonised laughter.


He moaned on the other end.


And I laughed and laughed and laughed and felt so so sore. It was the sorest bestest worst laugh I've ever had.

I got got and have never been so got since. Though I'm sure he will still get me again - I'm open and dumb like that, and he is wonderfully, achingly brilliant.


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