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Take two: - Joel Rosenberg's Personal LiveJournal

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September 25th, 2006


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11:53 am - Take two:
The thing about Ford was, you see, that you pretty much always had to have some of the background to get most of the joke, even if what you got made you laugh.  I'd have to go through the whole Bill Cosby routine before I could even get to why "You shaving in the dark, Ray?" makes me laugh for things that only indirectly have to do with Bill Cosby; and I'd have to explain in advance that Elise -- who was, later, the birth coach for both of my daughters -- has serious hearing loss, and that Mike was an insulin-dependent diabetic since he was a kid.

So I'll just skip back to the time that I met him.

It was in late 1985, at a SFWA party in New York.  I was living in New Haven; Mike was in Philadelphia, I think, at the time. My first novel had come out two years before -- and around the time that he published his award-winning The Dragon Waiting -- and achieved a certain amount of success, and I had, late the year before, and asked for my first cover quote for a book -- somebody else's book, of course -- by a writer who I'll call Michael Greenberg (not his name; I'm sure Mike wouldn't want me to embarrass the guy).  The book had been published to no particular critical acclaim -- or popular success -- earlier that year.

I think we probably had been in the same place at the same time before, but I'm not sure; I didn't know who he was, even though he had been writing amazing stuff for years.

So he wanders up to me at the SFWA thing.  All in black, but not like Johnny Cash -- sort of like pre-Goth, except with, well, style.  (Always ahead of his time, without particularly trying to be -- that's just the way he was.) 

Turns out, of course, that the Black Period was a reaction to the bleeding cysts on his right hand that he got finishing up The Dragon Waiting -- instead of doing the sensible thing as he neared the end, and taking a break, when the cysts kept bleeding, he kept wrapping more layers of gauze over his right hand.

He came close to losing the hand, did lose much of the function of the two outer fingers, and spent the next quite a while covering the wounds and later scars on his right hand with black gloves, and covering the fact that he was covering his right hand by wearing black gloves on both of his hands, and black pretty much all the time.

Should I mention again that he was, until he met Elise, real, real bad about taking care of himself?  (She -- and Lynn and Victor -- no doubt added years to his life, in ways that only partly overlap.)

Like the nocturnal creature that he mainly was, his face had an unhealthy pallor, his blond hair was already thinning, but long and tied back in a ponytail.  I don't remember if he had the cane that he sometimes affected during the Black Period, but I wouldn't be surprised.

First words out of his mouth were: "So, you owe Michael Greenberg a lot of money, right?"

I'm slow on the uptake; that was true then, too.  "Well, no."

"So he's got something on you and he's blackmailing you, right?"

"Err, no."

"Okay, I've got it: you got a sister who you really like a lot, and he saved her from drowning, right?"

"No."

"Then why did you give such a nice quote to that horrible book?"  But he said it with a smile, listened to my answer, and maybe a month later I got my first of his solstice poems, along with a note in an amazingly precise hand, that said something like, "If we're going to be friends, you're going to have to get used to getting stuff like this."

It was "Winter Solstice, Camelot Station."  It won an award or two years later; it made me gasp then.  Yeah, I could get used to getting stuff like that.

It ends with:

"The train may stop
But the line goes on."

Not a bad epitaph for him; probably one out of hundreds; probably many of them intended to do double- or triple- or googleplex-duty.  That was, well, Mike. 

I'm inutterably sorry that he is gone.

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[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:September 25th, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC)
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I'm sorry to hear this.

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