Sweatpants Wedding is a future hit musical about love and loose pants. Writer Stephan McCormick hasn’t finished it yet. Idea-haver Tom Dibblee wishes he would. “Hollywood” has expressed interest. New songs are in the works. The play’s alleged original titler has agreed to handle the “business end” of things. Momentum, as they say, is building.
But the Patrick Benjamin issue remains. Patrick is this publication’s social media editor. He’s popular and well-respected among Trop’s executives. And he hates Sweatpants Wedding so much that he has declared himself the villain of the documentary-style meta-musical you’re reading right now.
It’s possible that Patrick’s opposition has something to do with a woman. It’s possible that it has to do with Patrick’s own unfinished opus—a bromantic casino crime drama called “Morongolalia.” It’s possible that Patrick is a bored child with a pointy stick, entertaining himself by torturing a squirrel pup.
It’s also possible, I realized yesterday, that Patrick opposes Sweatpants Wedding for good reason.
So I wrote to Patrick. I admitted that my previous reporting in this series must make me look like an advocate for the musical, and I explained that I’m a big fan of sweatpants the pants.
My dad’s into sweatpants. He wears them with his rainbow jellies. A good old friend of mine is a big sweatpants guy as well. He’s a professional part-time high school hockey coach who holds his small but athletically-inclined college’s record for most punts in a football season. With their help, I’ve come to enjoy both the look and feel of sweatpants myself. And I think I’ve probably let my love for the pants morph into a love for the play.
This is totally reasonable, of course, given that (1) anyone who has in any way contributed to the creation of a musical about getting married in sweatpants must also be a sweatpants enthusiast; (2) sweatpants enthusiasts are often sporty and thus have strong team spirit and thus root for one another; and (3) rooting for artists means feeling protective of their work, however flawed or incomplete.
What I told Patrick yesterday is that, yes, I am a Sweatpants Wedding advocate, but, no, that is no excuse for ignoring dissent.
He, as an American, has a right to oppose the play or even oppose the pants. I, as a reporter, have a responsibility to open my mind to the possibility that his opposition is justified.
I haven’t properly done that. In these pages, I’ve made light of Patrick’s pain. On the phone, I’ve lost my temper at more than one of his raspy Austrian “assistants.” So, yesterday, I told Patrick I’d like to make peace, to begin a healing process by setting aside a portion of today’s post for his words, his explanations, his accusations, unedited.
He wrote what follows, attaching a postscript that read: “The sharing of this missive in any capacity, whether excerpted or made public in full, will be considered an act of, let’s say, unfriendliness.”
I’m drinking a beer. It’s expensive. It’s imported. It’s a beer with no name. It requires no label, doesn’t need a visible distinction; it’s the beer itself that sends a message. The thing that makes it so special, its raison d’être, its attempt and success at sentience: this beer is awful.
“The only drink fit for a man at war is blood on the rocks.”
A former general of a country these oh-so united states are—but are not supposed to be—allied with, told me this one night. A night that lasted a glorious three days. We were in Monte Carlo. I lost a year’s pay and slept like a babe.
General So-y-So is long dead. His blood dried up. His veins rotted. All of him rotted. The ice he spoke of, it rots too.
Though, you’ll notice, unlike the General, I’m far from the grave. Yes, I’ve been an old man for a long, long time. But my blood, the blood that none of you will get close enough to draw, is sanguine. Pardon the pun. I’m happy. I’m happy because I’m ready and I will win.
The beer aforementioned should taste like the sum of its parts, not the parts of its sum. The hops of Iceland, the barley of Turkey, the esophagus base of a killer whale (a dolphin, not a whale I’ll have you know), plus many ingredients secret even to me create this ale. Let me take a sip and tell you what I taste.
I taste portent. A hint of irrationality. A musk on the tongue reminiscent of warning.
A grave mistake has been made by those involved with Sweatpants Wedding. You three have imagined a ghost of a man. A Jacob Marley where there should be, and is, a maker of ghosts. There is no literary equivalent for what I am. What I can do. While this should be most apparent, considering recent correspondence, I worry that none of you will know that a man is what he can do. Strike that. Will do.
That is if he’s pushed.
I am an octopus. My tentacles trail about your homes, peeking in on your loved ones, leaving only trails where and when the beast decides is favorable for its survival.
Oh, no. Don’t think me a creature of the night, prowling about your residences, hoping for a glance at your underpants. I don’t threaten you in any way. And I hope not to have to.
Sweatpants Wedding is unexplainable. A mystery never meant to be solved.
This itsy-bitsy enclave of “playwrights,” “journalists,” and “writers” can keep up their antics. You can continue making digital documents of your first-born or experiencing sweet and “private” courtships. Keep on skydiving and performing elaborate proposals on jumbotrons. It isn’t my place to interfere.
But know that you waste the only thing more valuable than experience. I don’t need to tell you—and I won’t—what you waste. You feel it in your frail bones. You nightmare in its regard. You know that, as long as you will live, there isn’t a thing in this tactile world that can compare. To it. To its pull. Its power. Its knowledge of you. Hell, it’s knowledge of me.
You affect a knowledge of true love, but you haven’t any. You wink at a prescience of legacy, but in your cars, your stupid cars, you creep along yourselves like so many trails of ants, defending your eyes from their very, very sharp teeth.
I’ve no interest in your “literary” projects. Keep on keepin’ on, as I remember the “youngins” once chanted before getting jobs. No. Don’t worry about me.
The only goose who needs tending to is the one that’s been good for the gander. More than one of my tentacles is wrapped richly around the gander. Sleep not with one eye open, but both eyes closed, in deference to your clear and well-performed intelligences.
As I switch now, to cap the night, from beer to brandy—a thicker, redder, more nutritious beverage—there is but one thing left to say.
Sweatpants Wedding ends, now and forever, at the end of this sentence.
Jake de Grazia is Trop's Musical Theater Correspondent.
Patrick Benjamin is a writer living near Los Angeles. He lives with his sister and grandmother.