985. Telephone Line

(A quick note: order any T-shirt or omnibus book before December 1st and I’ll include a DGC notebook with the order, free! *AND* did I forget to mention that swag sales count toward bonus posts? Yup. Buy a shirt for $20, and $20 goes into the tip jar automatically! Check out the swag post for quantities and the “buy it now” buttons. -ctan)

If Ziggy and I had that phone argument a couple of years earlier, it would have been automatic that we wouldn’t have spoken to each other for a while—days, weeks, months. But this was not the nineteen-fucking-eighties. I did not slink away with my tail between my legs. I did take a couple of minutes to think about what he’d said, though, before I tried calling back.

Or, more precisely, I thought about what *I* had said, since that’s what he’d told me to do. I didn’t have to be a genius to realize he was hurt. He was hurt, or at least was hurting right now… because I didn’t go to Jordan’s memorial? Apparently.

I decided the best course of action before I called him back would be to prepare an apology, even if I still wasn’t totally sure what I was apologizing for. Maybe I should be sure.

I got my notebook, flipped to the first blank page, and drew a line down the middle. On the left side of the line I wrote everything I could remember he had said, and on the right I wrote everything I could remember that I had said, and then I looked it over for clues.

And remembered that he had implied he’d slept with Sarah. Which didn’t even make sense because Sarah was a lesbian… except that I knew from first-hand experience that even those of us pretty far at one end of the Kinsey scale are not necessarily all the way at the farthest extreme of it. Come to think of it, there was a song on Sarah’s folk album that was about a vegetarian eating bacon once in a while. I hadn’t taken it for a metaphor on first listen but maybe I should have.

Hang on, hang on, hang on, some little voice in my head was saying. Sarah wouldn’t do that to you. Not if she knew it would fuck you up if Ziggy did anything with her.

But did she know that? What had Ziggy told her? And remember, she was really angry at you…

Yeah, she and Ziggy were both really angry at me for not being there. That didn’t mean I deserved some kind of retaliation. I’d learned at least that much in therapy. Just because someone is angry at you doesn’t automatically make it your fault that they lash out at you. It doesn’t make it your job to take what they dish out. It doesn’t make you responsible for their feelings.

I mean, okay, maybe if you went out of your way to provoke them. But you know the kind of things I talked about in therapy was stuff like Digger and Claire blowing their tops and then blaming me. “You made mommy very angry. Apologize.” And of course I’d apologize because I was a child and that was what they were teaching me…

I suddenly wasn’t sure if apologizing to Ziggy was the right thing to do. That’s the legacy of toxic parenting right there. It leaches into everything, poisoning it.

And that thought was dangerously close to the whole “I’m too fucked up to be loved” thing that I thought I had gotten past. Dammit.

I decided I better call him back before I dug myself a deeper hole. I tried his apartment and got his machine. I hung up and called back. When I got the machine a second time I left a message. “Hey, it’s me. I’m sorry. If you’re there, pick up? If you’re not there, I’m paging you now. Please call me back.”

I paged him, then, and tried to decide whether it would be out of line for me to call Sarah’s apartment. I had to flip through my notebook to find the page with her current number on it.

Man, there were a lot of half-baked song ideas in that book. I felt immediately guilty that I’d let so many of them die on the vine, which is what they were–dead–because so much time had passed I couldn’t figure out what they were even about.

I called Sarah’s number, let it ring several times, and it started to feel like it was going to ring forever.

That’s how Ziggy had felt when he’d called me. And like it would be awful if I didn’t pick up.

Was he there and punishing me by not picking up? Or was I just twisting in the wind all on my own?

Paranoia felt sickeningly familiar. Paranoia and isolation went hand in hand.

I knew I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole.

I didn’t have the kind of therapist–or the kind of relationship with my therapist–where I could crisis-call her in the middle of the night. If I had been in AA or one of those rehab programs, I’d have a sponsor I could call if I felt tempted to take a drink. The only thing I was being tempted by right then was drinking my own toxic Kool-Aid, but the principle was the same.

Actually, a drink would have been tempting right then.

I decided Christian was the closest thing to an AA sponsor I had, so I tried calling him. No answer. Well, it had been worth a try. Colin? No answer. I left a message on the house phone in Allston that was probably rambling and pathetic, but hopefully not panic-inducing. I didn’t want to freak anyone out just because I was freaking out, you know?

And that’s why I stopped calling people and leaving messages before I got to Carynne or Courtney or Jonathan or Bart. (Bart was in the city anyway, probably in a hotel.)

One of the suggestions my therapist had given me at one point was this: when I felt I was mis-communicating with Ziggy, write him a letter. Write him a letter and try to put my thoughts and feelings down on paper. I tried. I did. But right then I couldn’t get past “Dear Ziggy.” I went around and around in circles trying to figure out the chicken-and-egg situation of whose fault it was that I was writing the letter in the first place, and so I couldn’t figure out where to start.

I was back in the water tank, metaphorically speaking, and it felt imperative that I talk to someone before I ended up back in one of those situations, literally.

I realized I had two possible options right then. Two real-life breathing humans within my reach. Ricky, the overnight desk clerk, and Claire, my mother.

I put my jeans on and went out the door.

(Going full on power ballad classic rock for this one. Cake’s “Never There” didn’t come out until 1998… -d)


  • Mark Treble says:

    Your chronicles are a coming of age story, and that is what is happening. You’re now the only adult in the family, which is tough. It’s a role adults take on for themselves, and however undeserving your parents and older sisters are, you’re being the adult anyway. By now you’re fifty, and the only two people who will ever appreciate it already have – Courtney and Landon.

    By now you also know you have nothing to apologize for. It would have been self-serving to return to New York for Trav’s memorial; Trav certainly wouldn’t know. And, accepting responsibility for the roles that come with being an adult is far from being guilty of causing others’ selfish reactions to you.

    It’s probably an unpopular opinion, but I find both Sarah and Ziggy to be acting at bet spoiled, and more likely hatefully. Yes, they had sex. That was the caboose reference. They had the worst kind of sex possible, not based on affection but on malice toward you. Little different from years ago when Ziggy started having sex with Carynne to hurt you, and raping her to hurt both of you. The boy has problems, and you’re not one of them. You can help him get help, but you can’t fix him.

    Sarah can be forgiven, she was doubtless under the influence of at least one intoxicant, and doesn’t owe you the kind of loyalty that Ziggy has yet again forgotten he owes you.

    This is the point where either you slip back into the abusive relationship with Ziggy torturing you for his perverse pleasure, or establish an adult relationship with him. You’re an adult, your significant relationships should be adult as well. If Ziggy doesn’t want an adult relationship with you, then he doesn’t want any relationship with you. You’re an adult. If he can’t be one, then it’s very sad, but you two have no future.

    Follow DearZiggy with

    You first need to apologize to me for having sex with Sarah in order to hurt me. Then we can talk. I’m an adult, I want an adult relationship with you. If that’s not what you want with me, then you don’t want any relationship with the real me. I will be heartbroken and lose my soulmate, but you need to decide to stop playing games and become an adult as well. Losing my soulmate will be easier than losing my soul.

    Write back or call if you ever want to see me again.

    The train wreck is upon you. You’re going to be a casualty whatever happens. What kind of casualty is your choice.

    • daron says:

      I don’t give anyone a pass for being intoxicated anymore. (I mean unless someone else drugged them without them knowing.) If you choose to impair your judgement, you should be judged for making a bad decision just like someone who didn’t drink or do drugs would be if they did something just as stupid.

  • s says:

    Grief sure does some fucked up things to your mind.

    Of course Ziggy is hurt and angry with you. He BEGGED you to go with him, to be there and support him and let him be there and support you while you both grieved someone you cared about and knew well. Anyone would’ve been hurt and angry to be rejected that way.

    Yes Ziggy is manipulative and sometimes vindictive, but you are jumping to conclusions. Maybe they did have sex, maybe they didn’t. Maybe he stayed at Sarah’s so he didn’t have to be alone since the guy wearing his ring didn’t fucking go with him. Maybe you won’t know the truth till you talk to him.

    Maybe you’re the one about to fuck it all up with Ricky or Claire…

  • Mark Treble says:

    Blame Daron for being the adult. Ziggy has reverted to using sex as a weapon to cause Daron pain, to manipulate and control Daron. Ziggy doesn’t have friends or lovers, he has minions. One of them isn’t following Ziggy’s self-centered script.

    This is the tranwreck that has been coming. Ziggy never understood that Daron’s closet was more about his soul than his sexuality. Had Ziggy cared, perhaps he might have understood, but Daron told him that as clearly as he was able when he got the news of Trav’s death. Ziggy didn’t need to listen, to understand, because Daron has become an adult and Ziggy is stuck in adolescence.

    Daron’s roles in Ziggyworld are sex, worship, obedience and musical collaboration. When Daron takes on another role that isn’t centered on Ziggy, the demi-god can’t stand it and reverts to intentionally hurting Daron in as malicious a way as possible. This has been a recurring theme from the beginning.

    I had hoped that Ziggy might also come of age as part of this story. It will have to be a separate story if it is ever told. An HEA ending is waiting on Ziggy actually acknowledging that Daron has a right to his own life. That’s part of being an adult. Yes, ctan has written him to be a charismatic character who causes readers to protect him and never blame him. That’s a valid view, as the individual reader has the right to her own interpretation.

    I have viewed Ziggy as a charismatic but deeply flawed character with a chance for redemption. That has allowed me to enjoy a deeply rich narrative that is anything but a cute teenage romance. I can recommend dozens of authors in the M/M romance category who write mediocre cute fluff stories, substance free with cardboard characters. DGC can be read as that. It’s simply far far more if one wishes to delve.

  • Darec says:

    Hey there, I have been faithfully trying to read through all the posts, intending to join the discussion at that point. But I could not resist posting here since ELO is my all time favorite band. Starting as a teen with Discovery and Time albums, and quickly buying up all their past albums in vinyl. Still have them. I was captivated by the cascading music from the first time I put on my headphones and listened to the album all the way through. I have fallen for DGC too and can barely put it aside. I identify with several characters. I will try to explain further as we go along. So close to caught up. What will I do then?

    • ctan says:

      Welcome and thanks for reading! Once you’re caught up… you’ll just be hanging on like the rest of us. 🙂 (Even I’m usually only a few chapters ahead in writing… and Daron and Ziggy don’t always do what I planned for them to do, so sometimes I’m as surprised as everyone else!)

      • Darec says:

        It has been an epic journey. Thank you so much for creating a world I can immerse myself in so happily. I dreamed of being a rock star. I had the pipes for it, but not the drive to sacrifice and make it happen.

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