Letters to Jake


Hey Jake

It looks like it’s time to take matters into my own hands. Yes, I understand that you have priorities to balance. And yes, I understand that you can’t introduce me to Sarah at the moment, even though you think the two of us would get along. And yes, I understand that if you were to introduce Sarah to me, Zeke might not appreciate it, because he’s in love with her too, and he’s already actually met her.

But Jake, even though you and Zeke have a friendship that you need to make last, I don’t think I should limit myself to waiting around. Proactivity’s a virtue I like in my life, as is resourcefulness. And as it turns out, Sarah’s all over the internet.

Did you know that she uses a stage name for her music? “Wolf Larsen”? Is that Scandinavian? Isn’t that kind of mannish? How does she explain a name so long-toothed and hairy for music so full of love, womanhood, and sensuality? Is she a she-wolf? Am I being unfair? Is it untactful to suggest that the woman I’ve been pestering you to set me up with for three months is kind of manly? Is there any way that I’m reducing my chances right now? At what point do I cross the line from “admirer from afar” to something worse? Could you hold off from telling her that I’m writing you this? Unless, of course, you think my letters are evidence of exactly the sort of dedication that would make me a good husband and father.

Why’d she cut her hair? Was that a philosophical thing? Was she intentionally shedding her femininity? Or was she just hot? Temperature wise, I mean. What does it mean about me that I’m fixated on two things right now—Sarah Wolf Larsen and the fact that she’s a woman with strong male attributes. Could I be a homosexual? Or could I just be astride a wormhole in the sexuality continuum, like something akin to Cynthia Nixon, thinking about the female bodice, but sometimes, well, thinking life would be easier if I could just sleep with my friends? Because we get along so well already? If Sarah were to think that I’m maybe ten percent gay, would that reduce my chances? Or would it, maybe, put us on the same page, because we’d both understand the power of men?

Where’s Zeke fit into all of this? Should we have a love triangle? Comprised of one woman with two names and two men who, between them, have met the woman only once? Perhaps we should consult John Teschner on this one.

John—As you’ve inferred, Sarah Wolf Larsen’s a musician living and performing here in Los Angeles, though her website claims she splits time between here and San Francisco. As you may not have inferred, she also has a book out, and another one coming, though I really just shouldn’t say that out loud, because it makes it seem like I’ve confused my sexuality with my ambitions.

Also, John, before we go too far: I want to apologize for something. In my last letter to Jake, I said you’d “never left Minneapolis.” Obviously, that’s not true, because you’re not only from Virginia, but you’ve also spent a few years in Central America. But John, I had to say it, because it felt so right. These are the hazards of quasi-fiction. Absolutely feel free to assert that I’ve never left Marin, Massachusetts, Claremont, Dublin, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Paris, New York, Milledgeville, Los Angeles, or any of the other places where I’ve spent considerable amounts of time (like Hartland, Vermont, where I spent two months in a basement during winter without a car and without a coffee shop. And let me just say—the thought that, if you lock yourself in a mid-winter basement, you might eke out higher quality fiction, is just off. And I’ll tell you why—it’s because I had no sexual possibilities. It’s not that I had no actual sex. No. That, I can deal with. It’s the total lack of possibilities that killed me off so completely. I knew that when the calendar ticked and the weekend came, there was absolutely no chance, at all, that I could go to a bar or anywhere else and lay eyes on a woman that I could possibly sleep with, or even, want to sleep with. That basement was total sexual death. And my writing suffered. As did, in fact, my reading, because I was stuck in such a toxic fog. In fact, only one good thing came out of my self-imposed castration of chances, and that was that I practiced French every afternoon on Gchat with a girl named Nouria Diesel.) But John, I know that you’ve never been to Los Angeles, or, I guess, now that I’ve renewed my vows with total honesty, at least until the next nice-sounding-yet-fictitious-turn-of-phrase comes around, I know that you at least want to hear what LA is like, so I figured I ought to explain what total sexual death is like, and also, what this middle ground I’m in now is like, which is: the possibility of escape from total sexual death in the form of a woman my friend is friend’s with and who’s got a book out and a few albums and therefore is easy to research online. Because, while it’s certainly important that I live in a place that fulfills all the requirements of being true and three dimensional, I also live in a completely separate place, one that, while chemical and hormonal and a trick to depict, still matters.

(Jake, John—Fuck!!! I just went into my Gmail to search for Nouria to see what it was she was getting her degree in—I think it was something like “institutional systems”—and I see that, in my emails to her, I actually did really kind of speak actual French. Damn guys. I wouldn’t mind getting that back. All I need is like a nice little pad in Paris, a serious cash infusion, the psychological strength and or weakness to sever ties with my graduate school, and a plane ticket and visa.)

In any case, John, we were meditating on whether or not this should become a love triangle. You know me. You know where I live, both in terms of the unmysterious third dimension and the increasingly also unmysterious chemical internal dimension. You know Sarah. And that leaves Zeke.

Zeke is a tall blonde man with a beard. We went to high school together. I watched him run into a car door and cut his face. He, Jake, and I went to Spain because Zeke’s dad was a rugby coach and invited us. He lives out here now, and he and I both went to Jake’s birthday party. He’s directing his first movie right now. It involves teenagers and it takes place in Texas.

And he’s absolutely fit to love Sarah. So this is kind of a tricky love triangle. Because I can’t really imagine spiting him if he winds up with her. Or getting down on my knees to beg her to drop him on account of his shortcomings and sins. Because I’m always pretty happy when Zeke comes around. Last time we hung out, we made vague plans to see a Kings game. The time before that, we made vague plans to see an MLS Galaxy game. We have that kind of friendship—see each other through Jake, make vague plans to do something independently, fall in love with the same woman. I’m sure you know how it is.

Tom Dibblee is Trop’s editor. His fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train and his nonfiction has appeared in Pacific Standard, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Point. He lives in Los Angeles.