Sunday, February 19, 2017

Thank You for Being a Friend

About a year ago, I interviewed a handful of writers from The Golden Girls about their experiences on the show. The piece did fairly well, mostly because a certain sort of ’80s child will reflexively click on anything Golden Girls-related but also maybe because I got a few good anecdotes out of the writers, including the best Bea Arthur story I’d ever heard. The pieced was published in Frontiers, however, and that magazine has ceased to exist—like, in any form. It’s even gone from the Google cache, weirdly, and the original post now seems to be completely inaccessible.

Because I really liked this piece and because someone recently reached out to me asking if I had a copy of the text, I figure some other people might still like to read it. Here’s the writer’s room oral history piece in its entirety.

St. Olaf and Big Daddy and thereabouts, I guess.

Thank You for Being a Friend — A Golden Girls Oral History

More than 20 years later, the ladies are still sharing cheesecake, still talking life lessons out on the lanai and still making fans laugh. The final episode of The Golden Girls aired May 9, 1992, but thanks to around-the-clock reruns and a devoted fan base, Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia have endured in a way other TV characters haven’t. From the show’s first season, The Golden Girls has especially enjoyed popularity among gay audiences. (L.A.’s Golden Girlz Live is perhaps the greatest realization of that popularity—the shining brooch on the Dorothy Zbornak ensemble that is Golden Girls fandom, if you will.)

In honor of the show’s continued success and its unique appeal to gay viewers, Frontiers spoke with some of the show’s writers about what sets the queen of sitcoms apart from the rest. Featured in this interview are Mort Nathan, co-executive producer and writer; Jamie Wooten, producer and writer; Winifred Hervey, co-producer and writer; Stan Zimmerman, writer; and Jeff Duteil, writer of the “Dorothy’s lesbian friend” episode.


Mort Nathan, on starting on the show from day one with writing partner Barry Fanaro: We took the job knowing it would be writing for characters in their 60s, but the actresses were very skeptical. I remember that when we met Bea Arthur, she looked at us and said, “You’ve got to be kidding. How can these children write for us?” I told her, “Bea, give us a month. We’ll figure it out.” She said a month was fair, and then Betty White said, “Not one more day, darling.”

Winifred Hervey: These were ladies who had done Maude and Mary Tyler Moore. Estelle Getty had been on Broadway. These were substantial women, who’d had people like Norman Lear write for them, and they didn’t know that these people who were 25, 26 years old could write for them. But it worked. They got past that and they loved us.

Nathan: These women had a chance at revitalizing their careers, and they wanted to make sure they were in good hands. When my writing partner and I left after four years, though, it was as if we were going off to war. They were very upset. They loved us, and we loved them right back.

Hervey: When it was explained to me in the beginning, I think it was still being called Miami Nice. But the cast — they could have said the show was about anything and I would have signed up just to work with these women. And it was created by Susan Harris, who at the time was one of the brightest comedy writers in Hollywood. She had done Soap and Benson, and to work with Susan and [executive producers] Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas, that was a huge honor.

Stan Zimmerman: Casting those four — it was just magic in bottle. I remember back then, we didn’t have computers to look up the ratings. Remember, we didn’t know if it was going to be a hit. We knew it was funny, but you never know. And we wouldn’t know until we got in Monday what the ratings were. And they would say, “We’re No. 15 this week.” And we’d all go crazy. And next week they’d say, “We’re No. 8.” And then it was, “We’re No. 1.” And then it was “We’re No. 1” again.

Nathan: The ladies were happy to be at the top of their craft for a second time. Bea, Betty and Rue McClanahan were all big stars before, but work had gotten sporadic. But Golden Girls made them stars again, and they loved it — not because of their egos but because of the work. Sometimes the shows were three, four, five minutes too long just because the live audience’s laughs were so huge. Those people had such a great time, which means the ladies had such a great time.

Jeffrey Duteil: The show had a huge gay following — and right away, too. I remember getting ready on Saturday nights. We’d go meet friends at the bars or whatever, and while we were getting ready, we’d watch The Golden Girls. A lot of the gay bars back then, even Revolver, would tape the episode and then show it on the screen. A lot of them had viewing parties — even Golden Girls cocktails. And this was back in the first season.

Jamie Wooten, who joined the show with writing partner Marc Cherry in the fifth season: Marc and I watched a lot of television, and Golden Girls was our favorite show. We pitched an idea about Blanche’s dead husband having fathered an illegitimate child. It went well and they asked us to join the staff. It was surreal. We couldn’t believe we got onto our favorite show.

Zimmerman, on joining with writing partner James Berg: We came in and pitched a whole bunch. We were scared to death, and they just said, “No, no, no.” We were literally out the door, and I turned around and said, “What if Rose’s mother comes to visit?” And they were like “And?” I don’t know what I said, but they told us to sit back down. And we wrote it.

Hervey: Writing on the show, I learned a lot about staying true to the characters, leaning the actors’ voices and their strengths. Some people do one-liners really well. Some people do monologues. Like Bea hardly ever did long stories the way Betty, Rue and Estelle did. But I also learned you didn’t always even need to write words; actors like Bea could do a lot with just the lift of an eyebrow and get a laugh with just that.

Zimmerman: If it was [a line for] Bea Arthur, you could just have Rose say something dumb, and then all Dorothy would need to do is give a look. We discovered that all in the first season. We discovered Rose telling her long stories. We just started writing these St. Olaf stories and that became a runner. It was my school in structuring a joke and making sure it comes from the character. You can’t put Rose’s line in Dorothy’s mouth. If you were given lines from the show blind, you could easily say, “That’s Sofia. That’s Rose.” Now so much of TV isn’t written that way, and it’s bland.

Wooten: There was an interesting thing that Witt Thomas did in order to save money. Smaller guest parts were done at the table reads by writers. It was such a thrill. We would sit there and read these parts with the cast, and if you could make one of them laugh? Come on! Who ever gets to do that?

Nathan, on the Emmy-winning script for the “Rose dates a little person” episode: We would come up with ideas that service the character. Rose, for example, was a woman trying to re-establish her life and move forward. We figured that would start with dating. The premise of the show was that people who were 60 or 70 weren’t drastically different from people who were 20 or 30; everyone wants to be happy. We asked what conflict would be interesting for Betty, playing this na├»ve character, and would put her in an awkward position romantically. And that morphed into Rose going out with a little person, just because that presented her with these additional hurdles.

Duteil: The experiences the characters had, they spoke to people. Everyone says people like it because it reminds them of their own mothers or aunts or whatever, but I think back then, when AIDS was rampant and coming out was still a big deal, the gay community really felt these characters were an extension of their own communities. They were accepting and funny and bitchy. The best fag hags a guy could have. They were accepting.

Hervey: What we would do was we’d put a whole bunch of stuff in there and we’d know we wouldn’t get it all through. We’d put 10 things in, and there’s only one you really want, and in the end you get it. I remember they let us do this joke, and I couldn’t believe it: Blanche was talking about having smuggled a guy into her dormitory at finishing school, and there was a knock at her door and she remembers having politely hello’d with her foot, all up in the air. We thought it was hilarious and it would never get to air, but it did. And it got a huge laugh.

Zimmerman, on the episode where Rose’s mother visits: Bea Arthur’s mother had died two days before we filmed that, and the producers went to her and said they would cancel filming. She said, “Absolutely not.” She came from the theater. The show must go on. But that scene with Estelle, where Sophia thanks Dorothy for treating her like a person and not an old lady — you can see that Bea can’t look her in the eye. And I noticed that, because I knew what was going on. It’s this beautiful moment. I could just feel it between the two of them. It chokes right in her throat, to be there and thinking of your mother. But good actors use what you have, and she was that vulnerable and open.

Hervey: Bea was always my favorite. I left after the third season, and that’s the year she won her Emmy for Best Actress. I was at the ceremony, and after she gave her speech she came over and said, “Winifred, did you hear I mentioned your name, you little twat?” She was mad because I left.

Nathan: TV Guide had done a piece on the show: “The Golden Girls — Is it still as good as it was the first year?” And they asked random people what they thought of the show, and this one housewife said she didn’t think the show was as good and that Bea Arthur’s character wasn’t as interesting. They mentioned her by name — Mrs. Betty Johnson, Sioux Falls, Iowa. So Bea reads this at lunch and then gets on the phone and asks information for this Betty Johnson’s number. And she calls her. And she picks up, this TV Guide woman, and Bea says, “This is Bea Arthur, and I want to talk to you about what you said in TV Guide.” The woman was horrified. She said she was misquoted. “I didn’t mean it. Is it really you? I love the show. I take it back.” And Bea goes, “That’s what I thought. OK, that’s better.”

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Thurmanniversary

The general consensus among people I talk to on a regular basis was that 2016 felt like one long, drawn-out roller coaster accident that only managed to get louder and more fiery as the months passed by. I agree, and while I think every horrible thing accumulated to overall more stress than I’d experienced in a previous single year, I have to say 2016 also gave me one of the best things to ever happen to me: On February 5, 2016, a seventy-pound bag of hair and grumbles came to live with me. His name is Thurman. His is my dog. And I love him very much.

Behold.



I know it’s trite to say, but as soon as Thurman got here, it seemed like he’d always been here, and it’s hard to imagine life in my house without him, wandering around this place like a little king. That was apparent to me those first few days, when I was supposedly fostering him as opposed to rescuing and adopting him outright. He just quickly and seamlessly folded into the day-to-day, which is all the more remarkable considering how he’s essentially a walking money pit, how he’s irreparably damaged my hardwood floors, and how he’s rendered me a social pariah as a result of unreasonable hostility toward motorcycles, skateboards, strollers, wheelchairs and Caucasian children.

I can, however, make a comparison that illustrates the difference a single year makes. A few days ago, I looked around online to try and find any trace of Thurman’s life with his original owners. The name, after all, came with the dog, and it seems reasonable that they might have posted about him somewhere online before they decided to abandon him. The results gave me three bits of information: 1) Uma Thurman poses with dogs often enough to jack the results; 2) Rachel Bilson also has or had a dog named Thurman; and finally once references to those two actress were eliminated, 3) Thurman’s old adoption profile photo still exists online. Even though it would have been my first glimpse of Thurman, I find this photo hard to look at now, just because he seems sad and underweight and altogether unwell.

For contrast, here below is that photo next to one I took this morning, post-walk.


I think he looks happier, but I’m biased. I’m willing to call it a win, and add to it the reminder that good things can still happen even in times of chaos and strife. This weird animal—Thurman Snowfoot Goldeneyes Snaroo Thurmanski—is one of those.

If you are not yet exhausted by me talking about my dog, hit the jump to see a visual summary of his past year.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Saddest Super Mario Fan Art You Will Ever See

Hi.

It’s 2017, and one of the promises I made this new year was to write on my blog more often. It’s more for me than you, because it’s helpful for me to put thoughts into writing and better understand myself, but maybe it’s entertaining for you to gawk at my weird mental processes.

I’ve been going to a therapist for three years now, and more often than not, I end up talking about the way I was—how my childhood shaped the way I operate today. It may not surprise you to find out that I was an introverted kid, to the point that I didn’t have close friendships, and I think I tried to fill that void with TV and books and video games. Often, I’d get more attached to fictional worlds than I was to real ones. I’m still this way to an extent, but until I began talking to my therapist, I’d forgotten how deeply I sunk into all this stuff back in the day.

While I was home for Christmas, I had to clean out boxes of childhood stuff, and this included a lot of drawings I made. Here’s the one that made me want to go back in time and tell seven-year-old me that it was going to be okay.


If you can’t tell, it’s a masterpiece inspired by the first two Super Mario Bros. games. The 34-year-old me has some notes.
  • The scale is all off. Why is the 1-up mushroom so much bigger than everything else?
  • I’m fairly certain that’s Princess Toadstool at the bottom. Why she has a coin on her head and why she’s telling it to leave is beyond me. (I’ll ask my therapist about it.) But the fact that she’s in the foreground—or what would be the foreground, if I understood a damned thing about perspective—is probably telling of a bond that would last long into adulthood.
  • I have no idea why there’s only one Mario brother, why he’s so much smaller than the rest of the characters and why he’s lacking a mustache. Maybe I didn’t like mustaches back then?
  • To the right of Generic Hero Plumber, I appear to have drawn a potion from Super Mario Bros. 2 but have given it a face. Unsure why. Ditto on what would appear to be a hammer and a mushroom block below it.
  • The question mark on the question mark box is backwards. What a fucking idiot I was.
  • I have no idea what the mushroom-like thing in the top-left corner is supposed to be. Because it’s Mario, I’d assume it’s a mushroom, but I think I proved that I could more competently draw those elsewhere in this piece. Anyone?
  • In the center of the piece, I seem to have drawn two Toads—a boy one on the right and girl one on the left, who has long hair and who seems to be taking off her mushroom hat in a vaguely seductive fashion. This is notable because my fanciful she-Toad preceded the introduction of ones in the games by years, though it may be that the Toads could maybe have been intended to be female in the first place.
  • I *think* the small thing immediately below the maybe-mushroom in the top left corner is a female version of the pluckable, chuckable vegetables from Super Mario Bros. 2. And I *think* the thing immediately below it (her?) is a smiling version of the springboards from Super Mario Bros., with a face in the void between the top and bottom halves. Who can say for sure? Again, what an idiot I was.
So that’s the drawing. It’s not all that different from stuff other kids drew out of love of whatever thing they were into, but here’s the part that stung a little bit. There is a piece of lined paper taped to the bottom, and on it I’ve written something strange, albeit in lovely penmanship for a seven-year-old.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Still Doesn’t Fit

I made different choices that the rest of my family did. This is never more apparent than when I’m home for Christmas, because every goddamn impulse and instinct I have gets second-guessed. But it’s some family member who does this second-guessing; it’s me, projecting questions about why and how that I anticipate they’ll ask—or at least think about and then not mention, because they considering it for a second made them think better of asking.

Going home means not only the awkwardness of leaving your own house to stay in someone else’s, where the rules are different and the snack situation is just this baffling tragedy; it’s also the awkwardness of the fact that the old me still lives in my parents’ house. He kind of sucks. He spent years scurrying around trying to make other people happy in an effort to hide the fact that he wasn’t. Looking back on the old me, I can’t imagine where I found the energy.

The old me is tidily symbolized by a vintage ’90s Drew artifact I found in a storage bin, along with my high school graduation gown, some photo albums and the course catalogue I received before my freshman year of college.

It’s my letterman jacket.


Looking at it now, I can’t believe this is a thing I own. It’s not me. It wasn’t me then, and I knew that, but I ultimately said yes when I was told I would be receiving one as a present—in reward for athletic greatness that never really happened, I guess, and in a misguided to achieve some kind of status I wouldn’t otherwise have had. I remember being told it was an honor. It didn’t feel like one. A Neo-Geo would have been an honor, but I got this fucking jacket instead. I think I wore it once, felt like I was playing dress-up in someone else’s clothes and returned it to my locker before lunch. It didn’t work. I don’t think I thought it would work but the fact that I accepted it and tried it anyway just makes me realize how impossible it was for me to speak up for myself.

Now I don’t know what to do with it. My parents are moving out of the house I grew up in, and in a sense that’s good for me, because whatever bedroom I’ll be taking in the future won’t be haunted by the ghost of Old Drew. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out where to put this letterman jacket. In another storage bin? In my closet in Los Angeles as a stern reminder not to pretend I’m someone I’m not? In the garbage?

In one of those instances where the symbolism, should it be written this way in a novel, would be too on-the-nose, I would like to point out that sixteen years later, this fucking stupid jacket still doesn’t fit me. The sleeves are too long and too big—designed for a far more ripped human being, I guess—and I can’t even imagine how ridiculous this would have looked on my 150-pound frame back when I was a senior in high school.



It probably says a lot that I look at those sleeve cuffs enveloping my hands and have the reaction, “Hey, I’m wearing it like Party of Five-era Jennifer Love Hewitt.”

Sunday, November 27, 2016

More Than a Smithers

In 1996, I didn’t know I was gay. But I knew something was up.

That year, The Simpsons aired the episode “Homer the Smithers,” in which Homer must fill in as Mr. Burns’ assistant while Mr. Smithers is on vacation. Whenever Smithers calls in to check on the situation, you see a quick peek at where he’s spending his away time, and in one scene in particular, Smithers mentions that “picture-taking isn’t allowed at this particular resort.” He’s in a dance club, and he hangs up the phone because there’s a line forming behind him.

It’s a conga line. And it’s all dudes.



Being twelve years old and generally clueless about the world, I didn’t know what to make of this scene. I can remember asking my mom what kind of vacation place wouldn’t allow photography, and she had no idea. I didn’t mention the conga line of men, because despite not having an inkling about myself, I felt like that wasn’t something I should be expressing curiosity about.

I also didn’t mention a later scene in which Smithers is towing a pyramid of male waterskiers, all of whom are wearing pink speedos.


I suppose I’m writing this for two reasons. First, when I did realize a few years later, I still didn’t know much about the world. This episode informed my idea of what gay men were like, at least to an extent, and I guess I figured one day I would be going to some weird beach resort where photography wasn’t allowed. I haven’t done that, at least not yet, and I don’t know when I learned that these types of vacations weren’t a requirement of being gay. (Going to Fire Island apparently is a requirement, but social media tells me that this trips are throughly documented with photos. In any case, Palm Springs is closer to Los Angeles.) When you don’t have access to information about what gay people actually do and when you sure as hell don’t talk to anyone about it, it’s strange how this little scraps of representation end up becoming all you have.

Watching this episode twenty years later—it just aired on Sunday as part of the FXX Thanksgiving marathon—I also realize that I never thought I would have gotten to the point I’m at now. I’m gay. Anyone who matters knows. And all that happened well before it happened for Smithers. Before high school, he was the only gay character I knew well, and at some point I guess I figured I’d end up like him: quietly and inconspicuously gay, never being outright with it, and somehow living a smaller life as a result. That didn’t happen. I didn’t ever think about it terms of me outpacing Smithers until now, but I’m glad it happened.

The other point is a harder one to put into words, but it has something to do with being a kid who’d grow up to be gay, not being consciously aware of those feelings and yet somehow going through life seeing things and occasionally saying “Oh, that.” I’m not sure what I thought my brain was doing, but it’s weird to be paying attention to something without understanding what the draw is, if that makes sense. It wasn’t always so obvious, either—although it certainly does explain childhood obsessions with princesses but also with barbarians—and sometimes I think I’d perceive something as being gay-coded without actually understanding what all that meant. Before the “Homer the Smithers” episode aired, I can remember being in a bookstore and seeing a magazine that had Waylon Smithers on the cover. It happened to be Genre, which I’d later learn was an LGBT publication. I didn’t know that at the time, but the cover read something like “Is Waylon Smithers one of us?” on a bright pink background. This happened at a point in my life where I’d buy anything with a Simpsons character on it, but something told me that no, I shouldn’t ask to buy this particular magazine.

I’ve no idea what chain of decisions led me to skip it—not even pick it off the shelf, if I remember correctly—but now I wish I had a copy. I’d frame it.

EDIT: Here, I found the cover in question. Looks like the auction is over, however.


Monday, November 07, 2016

Mushrooms

If you poked around my house, you might eventually find the back wall of the laundry room, spot this framed art and ask me, “Drew, why do you have a framed dish towel hanging in your house?” It’s a good question, I guess.


This dish towel belonged to a grandmother. I always liked it, even if mushrooms and toadstools seem like a weird graphic to be associated with something used for cleaning. Toward the end, when she moved out of the house she’d lived in for decades, I pocketed the towel, and I eventually framed it, just as a memento of her. And now that she’s gone, it means more. It’s been hanging in my home for years, and it’s currently in an out-of-the-way spot that I don't have much reason to notice often. But I noticed it today, just now, and I remembered that my grandmother was the only other person in the family who supported liberal politics. She also loved Hillary Clinton—which was weird, because she tended not to hold women in high esteem, generally—and it reminded me that when I vote for the only obvious choice for president this election, I’m doing it for myself and also for my grandmother, who would have been the first in line to cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Conversation With Thurman

What you may not know about my dog, Thurman, is that he is briefly capable of speech, and he uses these periods to better understand the world of humans. Here is a re-creation of my most recent conversation with Thurman.


I was walking through the dining room, where Thurman was lying so as to monitor all comings and goings in the house. As I moved by, I leaned down, pet him once on the head and said “boop.” Thurman’s reaction was immediate.

“Human, what is boop?” he asked me. I realized I wasn’t sure.

“Oh, I don’t know. It’s just something humans do to animals.” At the time I was trying to collect the garbage to take out, and I didn’t exactly want an interrogation.

That feeble explanation was clearly not enough for Thurman. “Would you boop another human?” he asked me.

“I might do it to a baby,” I said, thinking aloud before immediately clarifying: “A baby, by the way, is a human puppy. You’ve seen them on walks.”

“Ah, yes,” Thurman said. “Human, would you boop The Roommate?”

“No, Thurman. The Roommate would probably not like that.”

“Human, is boop an act of dominion or of benevolent condescension?”

“It’s neither, really,” I said after having thought about it for a few seconds. “It’s more of an act of affection.”

Thurman blinked once or twice and considered this. “May I boop you, human?”

“No, you may not.”

“Human, why can I not boop?”

“Well, for one thing, Thurman, I know you were digging in mud today, and your paws aren’t clean. For another I’m not sure you’d be able to reach the top of my head without me lying on the floor.”

“Human, must the boop land on the top of the skull?”

“No, Thurman. If you’ll remember I booped you on the nose a while back.”

Thurman looked down. “I do remember, human. I didn’t care for it. My nose is very sensitive, you know.”

I apologized for the slight, but Thurman had clearly already moved on. “Human, what is the origin of the boop? As a word, I mean, not as a demonstration of dominance?”

“Thurman, I just told you that I don’t think it’s necessarily about dominance. And I don’t know. I suppose it’s onomatopoeia.”

“But the act of booping produces no perceptible noise,” he persisted. “Surely the term has origins elsewhere.”

I had to admit he had a point. “You’re probably right, actually. So then no, I don’t know why we say ‘boop’ when we boop.”

“Human, perhaps it is better not to engage in ceremonies when you do not understand their histories,” Thurman continued. “Perhaps it is unwise, as you do not understand what implications and connotations to which your are tacitly endorsing.”

I sighed, then agreed that I would not boop him any longer.

“A underside rub would be preferable,” Thurman point out.

“Fine, yes, but please remember that we call it a belly rub. Underside rub sounds weird.”

“Human, my belly is ever so soft and warm.”

“I know, Thurman.”

“Human, when may I eat a cat?”

I turned around to begin once again my explanation of why he would not be allowed to eat a cat, but by the time I did, he had turned his full attention to licking mud out from between his toes. The moment of speech had passed. I wondered if there were any pattern to these moments. I wondered what he would ask about during his next.

Friday, October 21, 2016

How to Be Friends With Your Ex

Four years down the line, I’ve found myself in many situations where I had to explain that a certain person—whom, for the sake of this blog post, I will call Bernard—is actually my ex-boyfriend. (His name is Spencer, but I’m just going to pretend his name is Bernard, because I’ve always thought he’d be a good Bernard.) I will be at a party or some other gathering, and someone will ask how Bernard and I know each other. The easy answer is “from college,” but that’s also an explanation that falls short of accurate. In the end, one of us will have to relate that yes, we used to date but no, we don’t anymore, and no, it isn’t particularly weird.

At least it’s not weird for me. Probably not Bernard either. But it does seem weird for some people who are learning it for the first time. More often than not, it’s a straight person who, per my understanding of their dating strategy, seems to begin a relationship and then stop it and then exorcise the ex from their lives entirely, because the thought of casual social contact with a once-but-former interlocking part seems impossible. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I’ve had people—again, mostly straight—tell me that they can’t imagine remaining friends with someone they dated briefly, to say nothing of becoming friends with someone they dated for nearly eight years. (I think we ended at seven and a half years, but I round up, because we lived together for a chunk of it and that makes it seem so much longer.) And it’s for this reason that I thought it would be a valuable service to explain to all you ex-ditchers how it worked, at least for this for Drew and Bernard.

Step one: Give yourself distance.

Without going into details, the end of the relationship wasn’t ideal, and we didn’t talk for six or seven months after we broke up. At the time, it was more in the sense of “I don’t like you at the moment,” but looking back on it now, I see it as a test-run for how our lives might function if we stopped talking altogether. For me, this meant living in a new city where the people I saw regularly had only known me for months, without the benefit of someone who’d known me for years and could therefore offer up advice such as “Oh, the reason you’re doing this is probably because X and Y” or “The thing you’re doing is actually very similar to that thing you did in 2009, which was a pretty stupid thing” and “No, you already watched that movie. You hated it.”

Step two: When you’re ready, meet in a neutral place.

Eventually, we met for dinner at a taco place. I’m not actually sure we had ever been there together before, but tacos are good neutral ground for assessing how the relationship will work because I at least find tacos to be unromantic. Despite the lead up to these tacos, it was as if we hadn’t missed a beat. It wasn’t a hard decision that we made more sense in each other’s lives than not.

Step three: Alert your associates.

It’s a simple as, “Okay, after all that, we’re cool. Go ahead and invite him to future events. Stop giving him death stares and stop keying his car and stop making fun of the way he walks, even though he does totally walk weird.”

Step four: Be sure that sex is off the table.

I mean this figuratively. Literally speaking, sex should be neither on the table nor off from this point forward. Now this is an important step, because admitting that the relationship has changed means you have to accept that all the aspects of it that went beyond mere friendship—date nights, sustained touching, tongues—have come to an end. To prove our case, Bernard and I attended a wedding together in Joshua Tree. We shared a hotel room, came home drunk and mutually, silently decided that sleep was the best way to end the night. I’m not even sure I took my shirt off, but that also might have been all the alcohol beating me to the punch.

Step five: Talk directly when one of you begins a new relationship.

The odds are slim that you will both enter into new relationships at the exact same moment. It’s far more likely that one of you will take up with a person before the other does, and in my case, Bernard did before I did. I suggest you did what we did and have an up-front talk with your ex about how the new relationship may affect the old one—what’s still okay and what may now be overstepping.

Step six: Have your ex and his new boyfriend over for dinner.

Do this not only to show how generous you can be in welcoming them both, as a couple, into your home, but also for the reason that follows.

Step seven: Keep the new boyfriend’s wine glass after dinner.

This is the most most important part.

Step eight: Poison a bunch of famous people.

Make gift baskets with poisoned baked goods and send them out to B-level celebrities—the kinds that probably don’t employ a full-time poison-taster. Once that makes news and your city is gripped by terror, send some threatening letters out to TV stations and newspapers about how you’ll never be stopped.

Step nine: Break into the new boyfriend’s house.

After paying off a forensics expert to show you how to transfer fingerprints to the poison canister—prints that, yes, you’ll be taking from that wine glass—hide the evidence in the new boyfriend’s living space in a spot he won’t be likely to find. I wouldn’t worry too much about where you hide it, as you’ll be making an anonymous tip to the police shortly after.

Step ten: Testify.

At the trial, be willing to say on the witness stand that whenever your ex left the room, the new boyfriend talked a lot about poison and even looked up basic poisoning techniques on your computer, hence the suspicious search history. (Remember, you’ve already showed the police this, so you seem concerned and honest.) When testifying, characterize his demeanor as being “madman-like.” Say you didn’t tell you ex because his boyfriend threatened your dog. Hold up a picture of your dog so the jury can see how cute he is and, by extension, how awful anyone would have to be to hurt him.

Step eleven: Be there for your ex after the conviction.

It’s important to say the right thing. In my case, at the end of the famous “strychnine scone” case, I leaned over and whispered, “Hey, isn’t it weird how none of this would have ever happened if we hadn’t broken up?” I think that was the right thing to say.

Step twelve: Repeat as necessary.

Just to ensure that you’ll remain relevant in your ex’s life until you’re both in your cold, cold graves.



It’s as easy as that! I hope this helps!