Fandom Lenses

Life as viewed through silliness, Fandom as seen through Reality

Gazpacho, Grief, and Gratitude

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Once upon a time (2000), in a land (yahoogroup) called Long_Title, there lived four Frodis Femmes.

There was Cin, the ringleader, and Mich, the warrior, and Camille, the mystic (and your humble author), and Anissa, the sweetheart. The four of us had our own quirks and damage from various geek girl adolescent traumas, but beyond all odds we were brought together by a shared affection for a half-forgotten 60s boy band. We wrote fanfiction and went to concerts together and snarked on the guys’ eccentricities mercilessly (though always from a place of love). More importantly we became friends despite (or perhaps because of) our wildly divergent personalities.

But life, as it has a way of doing, got in the way after a few years as early-20s gave way to mid-20s. While we all stayed friends, we drifted apart a bit as we chased our own personal and romantic dreams. There were marriages and graduate degrees and careers to be created, and I like to think that each of us drew strength and writing skills from our time as postmodern self-aware Mary Sue kickers of fanfic villain butts as we figured out how to be heroes to ourselves.

That said, there’s a difference between growing stronger and growing harder. For reasons I’ll skip, I spent my whole life driven to be a success. Not to achieve fame or fortune, but to develop my talents to their utmost in the service of others, to make sure my life mattered. In service of that goal, I became a librarian. Then I wrote a scholarly paper. And then that paper was selected to be presented at a conference in Cleveland—the geographic center of the other Frodis Femmes. (I live a few states away).

There were a few tentative plans to meet up while I was in town, but nothing definite. And then, the week before my trip, my life went chaotic. While most of the issues had been sorted by the time I arrived in Cleveland, I was a basket case and there were still a few balls up in the air. Between that and the fact that logistics had never been finalized, I/we cancelled the meetup. It was an awkward time for all of us, and there’d be other chances, after all. At least, that’s what I told myself at the time.

Fast forward a couple years, to early 2012. For obvious reasons, the four of us started talking more in early march, and there was some tentative discussion of going to a Shoe Suede Blues show later in the year. Anissa was particularly enthusiastic. I didn’t commit one way or the other, as I was well into my Ph.D and didn’t know if more important things to my career would be going on.

On May 12, 2012, Anissa died in her sleep at the age of 36. As an occasionally wise man once said; “Boy, Dumbass me”.

The initial rawness is past now, and I’m less wracked with guilt over letting my friendship with Anissa fade into the ambient background of youthful interests I’d somewhat outgrown. We three remaining Femmes will be going to that Shoe Suede Blues show in Bay City, Michigan next month (look for the crazy chicks in photo t-shirts dragging bemused spouses and friends toward row 2), and we’re already making plans to attend what I’ve been calling “3kees 2.0”. We’ll be seeing them in Cleveland, naturally. 2012, for me, has been the year of the Creepy Coincidence.

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Today, or “Gazpacho Day” as I will always think of it, I was driving home over lunch to pick up some stuff. A tune from another one of Anissa’s favorite groups came up on my iPhone, and I suddenly found myself cursing Nez up one side and down the other for not making it happen before Anissa died. But Anissa did nothing wrong, and dammit, she DESERVED the opportunity to see this. I hadn’t really felt anger over her death yet (or Davy’s come to think of it), but that realization sent me into a seething wall-punching rage. After a few minutes, I took a breath and got a grip.

First, as fans, none of us are owed a damn thing. Sorry, we’re not, no matter how much sturm und drang our celebrities put us through. I’ll go even further. As I said elsewebs last night, I don’t think this tour is really even about us. It’s about Davy, and about three old friends (none of whom particularly need the money at this stage) wanting to end this aspect of their careers on a high note. We’ve just been invited to the party. While I wish circumstances had been different, I’m still glad and grateful for a chance I never expected.

Second, if I had to make an educated guess (and fandom is nothing without educated guessing), I would guess that any anger at Nez’s choices over the years that we fans may feel is likely dwarfed by what he has likely been feeling over the matter since February 29. I know many people tend to think he’s a bit distant and cerebral, but being possessed of a slightly similar personality (so it appears), there are some things you feel so deeply that you just can’t say them, or which you have to wrap in 15 layers of allusion and metaphor with a garlic-chive flatbread cracker on the side. As irritated as I’ve been at some or all of them over the years, they’re rebuilding bridges NOW. In the final analysis that’s what matters.

I’ve been reminded of the power and importance of friendship myself lately, and at the end of the day all I can do is wish that all three of them find some measure of peace with themselves and each other, if for no other reason than that they gave me solace, laughter and inspiration at some of the darkest times of my life. As for me, I’ll be sitting in that concert hall with two of my best friends in the world, mouthing along to songs that have played in the back of my head on-and-off since the age of 9. In a better world it would have been all four of us in the audience, just as it should have been all four of them on stage, but I’ll still make sure I have a damned good time. Anissa and Davy wouldn’t stand for anything less.

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20 thoughts on “Gazpacho, Grief, and Gratitude

  1. I…I’m overwhelmed by the response to this. Truly I am. I’ve heard so many sweet things said on the interwebs today when I got home from work, and my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw the hit count. Thank you for listening–from me, Cin, and Mich.

  2. This is so beautiful. Thanks for getting your thoughts out like this. Must have been very difficult to write and post. Love this entry because it really encapsulates how something perceived as frivolous (our fandom to a defunct almost-not-a-band) can really drive us to check in with ourselves and try to make us better people.

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