34 Versions of "Hey Joe"
Corey Mesler

It was the kind of holiday that makes the morning prickly. The kind of holiday some people eschew with jaded hipstersim.

We didn’t eschew it. We chose to make this holiday our own.

It was toward the end of our relationship. Jo had tired of my homebound giddy emotional highwire act. Jo said that I was the last word in heartbreaking deadends. I loved her.

That day though, this special holiday, we were happy as birds in their bowers. That’s Wordsworth.

That day, Jo did not mention my cockeyed, dusty bookshelves with novels that I’d bought fifteen years ago and never read, and probably never would read. She didn’t mention my sloppy filing system, which was so recondite that even I forgot how it worked. I could never find, say, Electric Ladyland when I needed it. She didn’t mention my solipsism, my mooniness, my passive-aggressive affection.

“I’ve got 34 versions of ‘Hey Joe’,” I told her. Hey, Jo!

“You’re hopeless, my lover,” Jo said. “Let’s celebrate this day like it’s never been celebrated before. Let’s create a whole new template for this holiday. Jo and Ted’s Day of Realignment!”

Jo could do that. She was a like a human piñata. She was an orrery if you can accept our relationship as a microcosmic universe. She started cooking and I decorated everything, from our dog, Spot, to the hatstand. Bunting and banners. Flummery!

What delicious food we enjoyed. What loving sexual congress. What a testament to our shaky, sky-hung relationship that day became.

After Jo left I wrote her a story all about that holiday, how much it meant to me, how it still hung around like a faded shibboleth. My story was all tender persiflage. I knew it would make her smile. I called it “34 Versions of Hey Joe.”

I never heard from her again.

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