The Cusack thing arose when she posted a comment online about one of his films. From what I gather, he was not particularly pleased with the comment that somehow came to his attention. He tracked her down through social media outlets and private-messaged her with none-too-flattering accusations of being a troll. It was the type of message that most people would shudder at receiving. But my friend, she is clever. Wickedly smart, and wickedly funny, she drew him out into a conversation that—who knows?—may lead to somewhere.
In truth, seeing this play out makes me slightly jealous. Not that I have designs on John Cusack—or anyone else for that matter—but it’s the excitement, the intrigue that makes me jealous. If life was a Hollywood picture, one can see her Cusack thing developing into a screwball comedy, my friend taking the place of Claudette Colbert or Carole Lombard, and Cusack’s role being filled by, well, John Cusack.
But this post isn’t about John Cusack.
Lately, someone has mistakenly been sending text messages to me. They’re coming from an area code in the Midwest, several states away, and are obviously intended for someone else’s attention. They ask if I want to meet for lunch, or thank me for a chocolate pie, leaving it to me to invent the contexts behind these messages. I’ve been tempted to phone or text the sender that they’re sending the texts to the wrong number, but such is the dearth of excitement in my life that I don’t want to surrender the fascination they offer.
Sometimes, I can’t help but read assignations into the messages. Yesterday, for instance, I was asked,
Is anyone in the office with you right now?
leading me to wonder what the texter had in mind if I was, indeed, free at that very moment.
At other times, the message is simpler. Thank you can mean so many things, but it is sent so often as to be slightly scary. Why is the texter so thankful all the time?
Earlier today came this message:
Hey. What was the name of the place where you said to get the keys for gas lights?
The gaslight keys. It sounds so quaint, like something you’d need to enter into one of those treacly Thomas Kinkade paintings that some people find so comforting. And yet, gaslight flames being so anachronistic and mysterious to our 21st century way of life, it makes me wonder if something more is going on. Have I inadvertently been invited into a Dashiell Hammet mystery? Was the previous key stolen to cover-up a murder, a theft, the disappearance of a cache of exotic amulets? Does Peter Lorre lurk in the background? Is the gaslight key needed to unlock a steamer trunk recently offloaded from a ship en route to Shanghai? Film noir is on my mind—some darkly-lit B-movie in which dapper perps and whiskey-wise detectives race and outwit each other in pursuit of the vital piece of evidence. It makes me want to dig through the closet for my old trench coat, cast aside all present-day concerns and troll for a locksmith who can provide, for a steep price, that mysterious gaslight key.