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Chapter no 22

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

“Is it strange that your friend didn’t show up for his own birthday dinner?” Sadie’s boyfriend, Abe, asked. They were standing outside the Silver Lake restaurant Marx had selected because of its proximity to Sam’s place. The restaurant had a tree growing in the center of it, and it was famous for being the best place on the Eastside to break up with someone.

“No,” Sadie said. “I used to waste a lot of time worrying about him, but he’s the kind of person who tends to go missing.”

“Everyone’s got friends like that,” Abe said. “You want to go back to my place? Now that I’ve got you on my side of town, it would be a shame if you didn’t see it.”

Abe Rocket was the lead singer and second guitar player of Failure to Communicate, one of a thousand or so bands that resided in the three- square-mile area of Silver Lake circa 1999. By the night of Sam’s birthday, Sadie had been seeing him for about a month, but she had never gone to his house. The drive was too long, and it didn’t seem worth it to Sadie to drive across town for Abe when the relationship was not that serious. She had not been with him long enough to know any of his stories or to know if Abe Rocket was a stage name or the name he’d been born with. She had met him at a concert that Zoe had taken her to. She liked Abe because he was a gentle and courteous lover (“Sadie, may I put my hand on your breast?”) and because he didn’t play games—video or personal—and because he didn’t mind driving to Venice.

Abe’s house was tidy and smelled like sandalwood, and he had around a thousand vinyl records, neatly organized into white lacquer Ikea shelves. Abe’s collection included LPs, but Abe’s passion was 45s. He loved B- sides, and the history of A-sides and B-sides, which Sadie knew nothing about. Originally, Abe explained, the record companies had put the “hit” on the A-side and the lesser track on the B-side. At some point, the record

companies started calling 45s double A-sides so that there’d be less conflict in bands. According to Abe, John Lennon and Paul McCartney had been at each other’s throats over which of their songs would be called the A-side. McCartney’s “Hello Goodbye” (A) versus Lennon’s “I Am the Walrus” (B), for example.

“But there is no double A-side. The A-side is still the A-side,” Abe said. “Doesn’t matter what some evil record company tries to pretend.”

Abe and Sadie smoked some pot, and he put on one of his favorites 45s, the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows,” which was the B-side to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” Abe particularly liked incidents where the B-side had become more significant than the A-side.

“Can you believe that?” Abe said. “Who would ever think ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ was better than ‘God Only Knows’?”

“I get it, though. ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ is definitely more upbeat,” Sadie said. “You sort of want to kill yourself when you hear ‘God Only Knows.’ ”

“That’s my favorite kind of music,” Abe said. “I call it afternoon music. You don’t want to listen to it too early in the day, or the day’ll be lost to you.” Abe put his arms around Sadie. “You’re an afternoon woman, sexy Sadie. You don’t want to meet someone like you too early in your life, or you won’t ever like anyone else.”

“I bet you’ve said that before,” Sadie said.

Several months later, Abe would go away on tour, and that marked the end of that particular relationship. She did not regret having dated Abe, or that it had ended. She felt, in a way, that she finally understood Marx (though he was now effectively settled down with Zoe). Long relationships might be richer, but relatively brief, relatively uncomplicated encounters with interesting people could be lovely as well. Every person you knew, every person you loved even, did not have to consume you for the time to have been worthwhile.

She expressed some of this to Marx at the office, and he laughed at her. “I’m afraid I’ve given you the wrong impression, Sadie,” he said. “I rather like to be consumed.”

Sadie took a long look at Marx. They had worked together for five years, but she sometimes felt as if she had all the wrong ideas about him. “And you’re consumed by Zoe?” Sadie liked Zoe. They’d never been friendly in Cambridge, but in L.A., they had become instant best friends in the way people can in their twenties.

“I devour, and I am devoured,” Marx said.

“After Dov, I think I’m through with devouring,” Sadie said.

“I understand why you’d say that, but I also don’t think you should give up on the devouring yet.” Marx growled at her and pretended to bite her, and then he kissed her on the cheek.

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