©2006 Ross E. Lockhart
I had picked up Blob from Denise’s and we were headed downtown to do some shopping. Call it retail therapy, since Blob was, as usual, depressed. After all, unless you count his embarrassing whiteface cameo in 1985’s The Stuff (he doesn’t), he hasn’t worked since 1972’s Beware! The Blob (or, as it’s known on video, Son of the Blob). Don’t even mention Chuck Russell’s 1988 remake. The fact that Blob lost the role he was born to play to Karo Syrup is still a sore spot that makes him surly and unreasonable, even today, nearly twenty years later.
We walked along together. Well, I walked. Blob shambled, then gushed, then gurgled along. He told me about the screenplay he’s been working on, and I told him about the new Joel Lane book, using Jeremy’s words, saying that if any author could inspire you to have bad gay sex and then slit your wrists in a bathtub, Lane is that guy. About the time we passed Barry’s gallery, Blob decided he was hungry. I suggested that we stop at Aram’s for Mediterranean food, but Blob, true to form, poured himself over a couple of nuns, a kid on a skateboard, and a little old lady that was walking by with a yipping Jack Russell Terrier, enveloping and immediately beginning to digest them.
Now I’ve seen Blob do this maybe thirty times in the fifteen or so years I’ve known him, but it always makes me feel a bit queasy. I guess I put up with it because we’re friends, and it’s always good to try and overlook your friends’ shortcomings. I’d been thinking that some dolmas and perhaps a boereg or two would be good, but seeing that leash still connected to a harness bearing a tag that said “Sophie,” that skateboard (with a relatively new Hook-Ups decal of a bunny-eared nurse bearing a chainsaw), and the twin rosaries floating around in his amorphous mass (along with an undigested femur or three) spoiled my appetite, so I suggested that we detour down towards the waterfront.
Once we made it down to the boardwalk, we spent the rest of the afternoon there, wandering around and watching the boats until the sun started to creep down into the river. A couple of tourists pointed, but I guess that loss of anonymity is the price one pays for celebrity. We talked about fiction, about narrative, and about the importance of story over style. Blob admitted that he’s been doing a lot more drinking than writing lately, often having a beer with breakfast, and said that he was frustrated with his screenplay, afraid that he might never finish it. “Cripes, man,” he wheezed, “I worked with Steve freakin’ McQueen. Now look at me. I’m out of shape. I’m unemployed, I’m couch-surfing. I throw away eighty percent of what I write. I’m freakin’ miserable.”
I said what I always say, “keep plugging away, Blob. You’ll get there eventually.” He looked sad, tired, old, but I could tell that my words reassured him.
As the chill of dusk rolled over the harbor, I walked Blob back to Denise’s apartment, dropping him at her doorstep where he retrieved the spare key from under the mat and let himself in, wordlessly. Then I walked back home myself. As the night grew colder and the buzzing streetlights flickered on I contemplated my walk with Blob and our conversations, realizing that I shared many of his concerns about my own work. Will I ever make it? Will I get this novel done? Will anybody want to publish it when I do? Will anybody buy it? I thought of the advice I’d given to my gelatinous friend, “keep plugging away,” and realized that my life was becoming fuller every day, and that I was on a path of my own choosing, a claim that most people cannot make. I stopped about a block from home and glanced upwards towards a breathtaking, endless starlit sky, dumbstruck by its beauty.