I received last week a rather surprising call from an old, old friend of mine, Todd Spillum, now more widely known as Todd Grimson, author of a number of rather well received novels, including Brand New Cherry Flavor which was just recently released as a Netflix series.
I had not spoken to Todd since perhaps 1979. The back story is that Todd and I went to the same high school and he was the boyfriend of the young woman who would later become my first girlfriend and then my first wife.
My contact with Todd last week began with a number of texted and seemingly random vignettes from his lifetime, a record of things he had done, places he had been, people he had known. I was a bit confused by this sudden tranche of information and wondered actually whether this was a communication from a press agent rather than Todd himself.
By and by, however, it became clear that he was kind of reviewing material to appear in an upcoming autobiographical novel. It's quite a life, I suppose, chock full of unusual stories, famous people, infamous people, just plain strange people and so on. A little like one of his novels.
Although I cannot say that Todd's choice of subjects for his fiction has ever been my cup of tea (drugs, kinky sex, weird people, grotesqueries, vampires and so on), I was nonetheless keenly and perhaps painfully aware on reading Brand New Cherry Flavor that this was the extremely polished, inventive, able prose of a writer who had mastered his craft. (I say "painfully" here because back in the day Todd and I were somewhat in competition as writers. Or at least I felt that way. Todd likely felt no threat from me whatsoever).
Anyway, as I finally learned after texting him for a while and then agreeing to a phone call, I play some small part, as does his ex-girlfriend and my ex-wife) in the autobiography Todd is working on, and perhaps he meant to give me a heads up. Or perhaps he was merely doing some advertising work in advance. We must have talked on the phone that day for two full hours. So much to kick around, with Todd doing most of the kicking, so to speak. This is because he possesses an airtight, ironclad memory and so was able to guide me through a wonderfully complete tour of old times, most of which things I had forgotten.
Strangely, as I discovered, Todd also has multiple sclerosis, having been diagnosed in 1984. I had no idea. This has at this end put him in a wheelchair. Whereas so far the disease has mostly affected my cognition and memory, Todd has suffered none of this. Which is quite clear in conversing with him. One wonders, really, whether a memory as complete and clear as his, making it almost as if everything were happening (or still happening) at this very moment is necessarily a good thing.
But I guess that's a subject for some other day (if I can remember).