Dear Heat Rash,
I’ll just come out and say it: what gives, Ms. Rash? I thought we understood each other. As our days together now add up to a full week, however, I feel it necessary to write to you in an effort to clear the air, as it were. My understanding, before making your acquaintance, was that you were looking for kind of a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am thing. If you’re hoping for something more long term—and I think it’s pretty clear you do—I’m going to need some more information. Like just what the hell you want from me, for instance.
I am well acquainted, having neglected to wash my cross-country ski socks and underwear for my entire sophomore junior varsity season, with your cousin Fungal Infection. Fun, as I called him for short, stayed with me somewhat longer than I would have liked, frankly. But we got on well enough after the initial friction. Once I did what he wanted, he was pretty content. And, after a short time, Fun seemed to grow bored of our relationship. I guess that’s the nature of any sadomasochistic fling; you make a habit of something kinky—like rubbing all sorts of humiliating creams on humiliating parts of your body several times a day—and eventually your partner wearies of what once enflamed him. If we’re being perfectly honest, I wasn’t that sorry to see him go.
I mention ol’ Fun because you often get compared to him and from everything I’d heard, you are supposedly the “milder” of the cousins. This is what I get for depending on public reputation, I suppose. I can’t help but feel that some of the deception is your fault though. When we first met you were mild. Your little love bites weren’t exactly my cup of tea, but they weren’t a big problem either.
A week later, there are parts of my body I wouldn’t show in public for money.
Since Fun liked the creams, I tried that. How was I to know this would enrage you? Look, I get that I did the wrong thing, but the way you treated me after that was nothing short of abuse.
Next, and I’m not proud of this next bit, I did a bit of cyber-stalking to find out what you do like. (BTW, those pictures really don’t do you justice.) So, yeah, that’s how I came up with the soapy washcloth and the fan-drying. And you seemed to like that. For like a day. But even devoting myself first thing in the morning, last thing at night and even in the middle of the day, to you, solely to you, doesn’t seem to be enough now. Just what the fuck is going to satisfy you?!
Here’s the thing. I don’t see how this can last, and I don’t think you’re accomplishing anything by dragging the situation out. I really think it’s best if you just tell me what I need to do so we can end on the best terms possible and go our separate ways.
You are the best. I know we haven’t been spending as much time together as you would like. Believe me. The feeling is mutual. I would tell you I’ve been busy, but honestly, I haven’t been busy at all. Most of my time these days is eaten up here at this desk where I’m writing to you. I try, not hard enough mind you, to get words on the page. Yeah, yeah, I’m back to the novel. And, I realize this is an activity you have long suggested we could do together. I know, know. You have done this sort of thing with plenty of friends. And yeah, I get it, a lot of them are famous. (Actually, Al, I think the name-dropping is getting a little old. And really, have you read any of Bukowski’s poems lately? Not sure you should keep going around bragging about that.) The thing is, I need to do this by myself. I know you think you’d be a big help, but every time we’ve tried to work together it just hasn’t gone very well. We seem to be best for each other in festive situations. Okay, you’re right. You have been very comforting in some of the hard times too.
All of which is neither hear nor there. I’m writing for a few reasons. First and foremost, I wanted to invite you to dinner tomorrow night. My sister is coming to town and we’re going to go out. I know you guys don’t get along all that well these days, but I’d really like you to be there. Even if we have to keep you on opposite ends of the table, I think the meal will be a lot more fun with you there.
Second, I want to apologize for last weekend. I know we’d planned to stay out all night on Friday, but I was just exhausted from the week. I’m not exactly sure why I’m apologizing since you and the whole rest of that goddamn frat bar seemed to have formed a mutual admiration society. But a broken promise is a broken promise, so I apologize. You really could have come home with us like I suggested though.
Finally, I think we may have to mainly hang out on the weekends from now on. Staying up with you is great, but I kind of hate myself in the morning every time. And then my whole day is wrecked. No offense.
Okay, I have to go meet up with Smoothie now. Do you guys know each other? I feel like you could be the best of friends.
All my love to Mrs. Cohol and little Zima, Boont, and Vanilla Extract,
I think I love you.
Normally, I wouldn’t be so forward, but sometimes I get the sense you don’t even realize I exist. I feel like if you took the time to really get to know me you’d see how much we have to offer each other. You get a lot of attention from people like me, and I’m sure that you’re really looking for someone who will stick around and make a real difference in your life. I get that. I do. But I can’t help that I have to go back to New York at the end of the summer. And unlike a lot of those other people, I care about every part of you. I bet a lot of people tell you they think your Garden District is beautiful and your jazz scene is totally unique. They are right. But I am even more entranced by your rusting riverside cranes, your ripped-apart crawfish shells littered everywhere, and the way you smell just before the sun goes down.
I know we don’t actually know each other very well, and it’s probably too soon to be saying so, but it seems like you’re maybe trying to shut me out. If you just let me into your heart, you’d see how well I could get along with the others in your life. And eventually, I think I could, truly, become important to you too. If we only ever hang out by ourselves though, I don’t see how this can go anywhere. I’m not trying to pressure you. Really. I’m simply saying that you and I could be so much more.
This isn’t an ultimatum. I’m going to stick around for a while no matter how you feel about all this. However, few things would make me happier than some sign that you love me too. I’ll see you in Audubon Park, at dusk. If you fee like it, put on all that Spanish Moss. I love the way you look with your hair down like that.