Wish you were here


December 24, 1981


I want to know if when Hank gets old and gray (or white) will he look like Santa Claus?

Hell, in many ways, hes already old, and todays his birthday 32 years of Hanks existence.

Many who knew him when he was young are surprised hes still alive.

Some are even sad about it.

But hes an old bachelor who insists on the silly Christmas ritual.

I dont condemn him for it the way Pauly does. I guess I understand the loneliness thats behind Hanks desire to hang on to this thing Hank insists upon doing each Christmas Eve.

Pauly and I went shopping last night, buying candles and drugs and all sorts of tiny ceramic animals for Pauly to give away as gifts (all but the drugs).
Jane called to tell him her car was being repaired and shed not be able to make it north after all. He looked shocked and hurt, and just a bit suspicious. But not put out enough to reconsider hanging out with me, Hank and Garrick.

Its not that I have anything against Hank, he said. Its just that Im sick of doing the same thing over and over and over.

This is the fourth time this week that hes told me this. But this time his voice seemed strained as if he was telling himself and not me.

Jane isnt coming north, and I can imagine the dreadful vision Pauly has of Hank trying to cheer him up over it.

I dont need it, Pauly went on. Id rather spend Christmas Eve alone.

So he purchased his gifts. We both bought the drugs. My gift to him was a half ounce of pot we bought off the former guitarist from the band who looked skeptical and exhausted when we knocked on his door.

Christmas for him meant getting presents and getting stoned.

He laughed at me and recalled Christmas Day two years ago when we all got stoned at some empty club where we had to play.

That was a pitiful night, and yet one that brought us all together, and kind of bonding in loneliness that even oversexed rock stars feel on holidays like this, making me appreciate Hanks ritual all the more because it meant something, even if always seemed the same.

I feel most sorry for Pauly because his gift could not arrive in time for Christmas, and from what I caught from the one sided conversation that he may never get that gift, and will have to settle for doing drugs in front of an open fire alone, while Hank, Garrick and me make merry elsewhere.

Merry Christmas, Pauly. Wish you were here.


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