It was a long winter. I distracted myself from being ignored by the show by hunting down my new sports car. All my life, I had wanted a Corvette. I was determined that now, I would have one. Of course, my aunt counseled against it.
“You should buy the most inexpensive car you can, one that will get you where you need to go, and put the rest of your money away.”
God bless her. My aunt was a fountain of good advice and most of the time I listened. However, on this matter, I simply told her, “I don’t hear you.”
After weeks of searching, I found a black Corvette convertible that was prettier than Susan, sexier than Ivory, more fun than Lee, and more arousing than Kim. That was one pretty car! And I looked good in it. I was going to have that car no matter what. I withdrew a chunk of money from my bank account and financed the balance.
I planned for the evening I would pick the car up like I was planning a date. I spent time choosing clothes to wear. I had to wear just the right outfit. It was still chilly out, so I chose a mock turtle-neck and jeans. I wore a black cap I had picked up at a record release party and my Def-Jam Records bomber jacket. I also went through all of my record collection to choose just the right music. The first song I played in the car had to be just right. I was not a big rap fan, so I passed by Big Daddy Kane and Public Enemy. Neither Al Jarreau, George Benson, or Stevie Wonder was quite right. I considered Prince, but ultimately put him to the side as well. I was close to choosing Miles Davis, but in the end all lost out to Bonnie Rait. Yep. “Let’s give ‘em something to talk about” was the first song I played, as I drove my brand new, black Corvette convertible off the lot. As I pulled out of the dealership onto the highway, it began to snow.
In spite of my complaints about my agent and not working, I continued to live a blessed life. I busied myself with fixing up the house. I put a gym in my basement and began working out, regularly, which was good because I was eating as if I were preparing for hibernation. I was a regular at the McDonalds down the street; I frequented Roy Rogers for boxes of fried chicken; I rediscovered the childhood magic of Dairy Queen; and I was on a first name basis with the manager of Dunkin’ Donuts. Had I not been working out, I would have exploded.
I also began work on a screen play with an old friend. I was frustrated because I wasn’t auditioning, but I was keeping busy and didn’t feel the presence of the gray lady.
Because I wasn’t looping or dragging around didn’t mean that I didn’t have a problem. I didn’t realize it then, but I had begun to exhibit another trait of clinical depression: self- destructive behavior. In order to battle depression, people will often attempt to medicate themselves with drugs or alcohol. Food was my drug of choice – junk food to be specific – and I was putting it away like it was going out of style. But food was only part of it. I grew irresponsible with my sexual behavior, negating both protection and good sense. Ivory and I took up with each other again and I threw caution to the wind. Even her April Fools’ joke didn’t shake me.
As I stood washing dishes, Ivory blurted out: “Joe, I think I’m pregnant.”
I have no idea who told her the joke was clever, but it was not funny. I didn’t respond as she would have liked and she got her feelings hurt. She ended up stomping out of the house. That was the beginning of the end of us. Like the redhead, she had grown tired of the back and forth and having her feelings hurt. In all the years we’d known each other, we had never argued, but now our conversations began to grow contentious–even downright ugly–until finally, one night while my sister and her husband sat in the dining room, she stormed out of the house and stopped returning my calls.
I didn’t know it at the time, but all of this was a sign that something was wrong. The isolation, the self- destructive behavior, and the malaise that crept in from time to time were all signs that I was clinically depressed. I should have been seeking help. I should have gone back to my therapist. But once again, I took a deep breath and just plowed ahead, certain that “this too shall pass.”
And it did, more or less. My bouts were lasting days rather than weeks and months. I felt as if I was making it.