To my darling Cecilia,

I’ve spent much of the day – such a harsh and lonely day! – reclining in my recliner and daydreaming of the house we once shared, of the days that once were, and are no more. I ate the remaining crabcakes – such last and homely crabcakes! – and washed them down with recollections of the home we made together, where we, or at least I, had so many good times. In the afternoon I bought some shirts.

And I was nearly overcome by the brutal and unforgiving strength of my fond memories. Nostalgia gripped me like a headlock from Jean-Claude Van-Damme, except around the face, and every time I tried desperately to break the hold of the past and steal a gasp of the present, all I could taste was another muscly mouthful of sweating Belgian.

Metaphorically.

I laughed as I remembered lying on my hammock in our shade-dappled orchard backyard, sipping on a glass of iced tea (as cold and refreshing as if it had been squeezed straight from Martin Sheen’s heart), the sun on my face, watching you gingerly reshingle the roof. I chortled heartily as I remembered you, shaky-voiced and trembling, confessing you had a mortal terror of heights. I guffawed until I couldn’t breathe and I started to faintly taste vomit as I recalled the terrified shrieks of anguish you made, falling three storeys up, only to hook your ankle on the giant breasts of one of the gargoyles that I had selected, and you had paid for and installed, some months previous.

Ah.

Those were the days, all right.

How I wish we still lived together now, Cecilia, because then my heart would once more be overflowing with love. And also, because I wouldn’t have to leave the house, or even the couch, really, to get laid.

But mainly, it would be about my love.

My love for my swimming pool, which cherished and understood me better than you ever could. Diving into its cool, forgiving waters was like hearing a choir of archangels sing Handel’s Messiah. Closing my eyes and drifting through its peaceful shallows was like listening to Mariah Carey’s sensual audiobook interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita. Swimming into the embrace of its darkened depths was like watching Joe Pesci get pulled apart by rabid timber wolves. It was my solace, and my bliss, and my respite from your well-meaning but misplaced and wearyingly continual attempts to engage me in conversation.

Just as there is no longer a you with which to spend my life, so too is there no longer a swimming pool in which to avoid you in.

And it’s breaking my heart, Cecilia.

I spend my nights alone now – alone and shirtless, gently rocking back and forth in this rocking chair that we bought together with your money for your mother, feeling the cool night breeze slink in through the open bay windows and caress my naked torso with gentle fingers. Sometimes I eat a sandwich and play Mortal Kombat to take my mind off my troubles, it’s true, but that’s not very often. Sometimes I wonder if Lord Byron would have been so moody if he’d had the chance to assume the role of Raiden, God of Thunder, and teleport from one side of a room to another, shooting bolts of lightning as he did so.

But Mortal Kombat is no you, Cecilia! Just as you are no swimming pool! I’ve been forced to make do with sneaking into my neighbour’s hot tub at nights, although, I have to say, the most entertaining part of these little endeavours lies in selecting which of the secret passages I have devised into his back yard to use – an idea that I lifted in its entirety from an Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Three Investigators novel:  The Mystery of the Falsified Paternity Test.

Do you remember our secret tunnels, Cecilia? I’m sure you don’t, because I never once shared the location of them with you, as it would most likely have raised questions about how I never had to buy gas, and your car kept getting siphoned clean, even when you parked at your sister’s house seven blocks over. Let me just say this – that with a shovel and determination, a packed meal and an up-to-date map of the municipal sewer system, a man can get his hands on a surprisingly large amount of his de facto wife’s car’s gasoline. If you catch my drift.

If I must spell it out for you, what I mean to imply is that I spent a lot of time watching your sister undress.

There.

I’ve said it.

The moon is full and the Glenlivet is good and the night is hot, Cecilia. Hot like the sex you had with Steve Buscemi on the Oriental rug that I brought back from the Orient, along with a scale model of the Orient Express. Although there were no Gypsy thieves making gas attacks on that particular miniature.

How happy I was when I walked in the door with that rug, proclaiming ‘Fuckin’ awesome! Check out this badass rug! I already totally love it way more than I’ll ever love you! I sure do hope I never catch you having a sex with a male celebrity or overweight female celebrity on this!’

Yeah.

I asked for one thing.

I turn for you, tragically,

Simon

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SIMON SMITHSON is an Australian writer and editor. He is currently based in Melbourne, Australia, but frequently finds himself in Los Angeles and San Francisco. His work has appeared on both sides of the globe in print and online in publications such as BLIP, Every Day Fiction, Beat, The Loop, My Sinking Boat, and more. He has a tumblr at www.simonsmithson.com and he runs a lifestyle experiment at www.selfhelpless.net.

67 responses to “A Second Letter to Cecilia”

  1. Martin Sheen had a heart attack on that PT boat as it meandered down the Nung river during the filming of Apocalypse Now. Would the ice tea really be all that refreshing? Or would it be like chewing a fresh adrenal gland? Maybe that was your point.

    Cecilia. Overweight. Carpet. Priceless.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      God, I hadn’t even thought of the heart attack!

      I think my favourite behind-the-scenes story is about Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog on the shoot for Aguirre: Wrath of God. Apparently Kinski was at one point firing a loaded pistol into an occupied tent, although that could be studio beat-up (apparently a lot of that surrounds Kinski).

      Some years after the shoot, someone confessed to Herzog that Kinski has been making plans to have Herzog killed. Herzog nodded and said it didn’t surprise him, as he’d been making plans himself to have Kinski assassinated.

      Ah, showbiz.

  2. Zara Potts says:

    There is just something so indecently creepy about someone sneaking into a hot tub at night.

    Actually, I have to say that I have a slight horror of hot tubs anyway -with or without invited guests. I think it stems from when I was a child and not far from where we lived was an alpine town with natural thermal springs. We were all warned NEVER to put our heads under the slightly sulphuric waters as apparently there are 1 million different kinds of brain bugs that can sneak in your ear and do hideous damage. Yuck.

    But I digress!

    Where do these letters come from, brew?! I want to know how you come up with these ideas and how you string them all together like this! I like how your brain works, brew. You obviously never put your head under the water in a smelly hot tub!

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Oh, cool, brain bugs! Would they start eating stuff, or would they take over? So eventually you’d just be this glassy-eyed, shambling mess who kept saying to other people ‘Hey, let’s go to the natural thermal springs. I dare you to put your head under the water.’?

      You can digress all you like, brew. I’ll never turn you in.

      I can’t even remember how I got writing these. I did walk in on the woman I loved having sex with Jim Belushi one time, but it has absolutely nothing to do with this.

  3. Lenore says:

    the mortal kombat line slays me.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      If it also pulls your skull and spinal cord out and hold them up then we’re going to have some severe copyright issues to deal with. When I was in primary school, the fact you could do that to your friends, even if only on a video game, was temporarily the greatest thing ever.

      It was dethroned by the time Richie Garcia started bringing his dad’s porn to school.

  4. D.R. Haney says:

    Dear Simon,

    Did you really lift an idea from Alfred Hitchcock Presents? I’ve been watching quite a few AHP episodes on Hulu of late, fiddling as Rome burns. (Do you think Nero fiddled, if he did, because he was depressed and didn’t know what else to do? Very likely, I would guess.) Here’s a link to one of my favorite episodes so far, which involves, fittingly, a writer. But if you steal any ideas from it, let me know, so I can scratch it off my list.

    http://www.hulu.com/watch/52619/alfred-hitchcock-presents-the-last-dark-step

    Duke

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Dear Duke:

      Unfortunately, Hulu has yet to offer service to Australia, which is one of the many, many reasons why the US has it better. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents I was referring to was a series of children’s books they somehow persuaded him to lend his sponsorship to, he was even a character in a number of them, and his opening and closing statements bookended the main adventure. They were a younger answer to the Hardy Boys, I think – The Three Investigators were Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw, and Bob Something. Andrews! It was Andrews. They solved baffling crimes and made a fool of their nemesis, Skinny Norris.

      I think Nero did it for the insurance money.

      Simon

  5. Ashley Menchaca says:

    Simon,

    This is just what I needed this morning. Thanks for the laugh!

    -NOL

  6. My favorite line? In the afternoon I bought some shirts. Indeed, life goes on. And a man has a need for some new shirts.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Bad nesting! Your response somehow scurried away and is lurking at the bottom of the page. Maybe it’s smoking and it doesn’t want the other comments to see.

  7. Slade Ham says:

    Dammit, Simon. You sent me off on an internet tangent. You mentioned Raiden and Mortal Kombat, and I immediate remembered his flying torpedo move… then I tried to remember what it was he yelled when he did it. Soooo I’ve been Googling it, and while no one seems to know the guesses are hilarious.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Unfortunately, I don’t think it can be interpreted as ‘Christopher Lambert!’, which is just the worst thing ever.

      That flying torpedo move was just the best, wasn’t it?

  8. Simon Smithson says:

    Thanks Robin! I liked that line myself. It wasn’t in the original draft, but I liked the countering flatness of it.

  9. Please keep writing letters to Cecilia. That is all. Thank you.

  10. jmblaine says:

    I usually
    try to comment
    on the first thing
    that comes to my brain
    after I read a piece
    & it is this:
    I once spent an absurdly
    long time
    (with a friend with whom I was spending the night)
    searching a crude internet
    for the code sequence
    to make Mortal Kombat
    Nudalities.
    (hoax)

    This feels like
    therapy or something.
    (don’t look Lenore)

  11. Isn’t Jean-Claude Van-Damme Belgian?

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I wish I could sell this as artistic license – like somehow a mouthful of Dutchman was a better choice than a mouthful of Belgian (Jesus, what am I saying? How is this a sentence I’m writing on the internet?) – but the truth is, I forgot to do due diligence.

      I even know JCVD is Belgian.

      Goddamnit.

  12. Simon Smithson says:

    A nude Sonja Blade would be all the therapy anyone would ever need.

    Except Scorpion.

    That dude’s messed up.

    I blame his parents.

  13. Richard Cox says:

    I’m confused, Simon.

    P.S. Have you seen the film Swimming Pool? Two words. Ludivine Sagnier. Whooooooosh.

    • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

      I think Simon’s found a way to pass this off as Nonfiction on TNB. Write a real “Letter” to a fictitious person.

      PS. Simon, have you seen Boardwalk Empire yet? It’s fucking awesome. Get ready to love you some Steve Buscemi. He’s cured my qualms with cable tv. If Boardwalk Empire is all watch, it’s worth it.

      PPS. You’re a weirdo. Which is awesome.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        @RC: I think it’s good to be confused about at least something some of the time. It keeps the mind working. Of course, you don’t want it all of the time. Fuck that. I want to spend my Saturday afternoons having dumb fun, rather than being existentially curious.

        PS – I have not. A quick Google search makes me want to see it.

        @RC+L: I, uh… I don’t know what you’re talking about. But we don’t have a fiction Letters section, so it was a value call.

        PS – I have, and I can’t watch it past the first episode. I’ve reached Buscemi saturation point. I’ve seen him play the weaselly shadester so many times that now it’s like watching a puppet.

        PPS – I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.

        • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

          ATTN: Simon Smithson
          RE: Steve Buscemi

          You’re just jealous.

          xo,
          LRC

          PS: The first time I watched the first episode (a friend recorded it on VHS – holy shit, Simon, I watch VHS?? – I didn’t like it and couldn’t get through it. Then I got cable and the flu and watched the entire first season in 3 days. It’s awesome. It also stars a very sexy gangster named Jimmy.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          ATTN: LRC
          RE: RE: Steve Buscemi

          Well, yes. Buscemi has access to far higher grade of tailored suit than I do.

          For now.

          But also, I’m all Buscemi-ed out. I’d like to see him in different roles. A genius mathematician best friend to the vulcanologist hero. A widowed private jet pilot who comes home to find – uh oh! – his promiscuous sister’s precocious twin daughters have come to live with him. A picnic basket.

          Just something fresh.

        • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

          I guess coming from Jersey I don’t notice the whole *Buscemi* thing. He kinda reminds me of, like, every man I knew growing up. So when I think Buscemi, it’s probably ironic, but I associate him with a character actor… the unemployed mechanic in Trees Lounge, the drunk brother from The Wedding Singer, Donny from <The Big Lebowski.

          I was just thinking how skinny and relaxed I’d be if I could afford to have meals delivered… I’m jealous too. That said, I better go cook boring dinner and do the boring laundry instead of writing. Fooey.

  14. Gloria says:

    I read, but it’s so hard to find an appropriate comment. My first reaction was – what the fuck is this even about? And then I laughed out loud a whole bunch of times and forgot my question. And then I got to the heart of this essay in this sentence:

    “Just as there is no longer a you with which to spend my life, so too is there no longer a swimming pool in which to avoid you in.”

    And I laughed some more.

    Brilliant. And weird. And hilarious. Just like you, Simon!

    • Simon Smithson says:

      It’s disappointing that people keep missing the subtext to these, which is of course my growing dislike for classical Buddhism.

      Heh.

      I’m glad to hear it made you laugh out loud. To me, that’s the true test of whether humor writing works or not. Also if you get paid.

      Thanks Gloria!

  15. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Gargoyles. Now that’s something we don’t see enough of these days.

    She should have coughed up the dough for an Eames chair. Rocking chairs are so difficult to place in a room.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      While I wrote the original of this a while back, I was walking through my neighbourhood over the weekend and I noticed that one of the houses here has a dragon hissing from the top of the stone gates at anyone walking through. And there used to be a business a few neighbourhoods over called Gargoyles and Dragons; their house had gargoyles perched on every corner.

      Any house with an Eames chair is a house of good taste, good fortune, and many blessings.

    • Erika Rae says:

      I love gargoyles. I really do. Back in the high school to college era, I had a thing for drawing and painting them. That probably should have been my first clue that I was falling behind in the flock….

      • Judy Prince says:

        “I love gargoyles. I really do. Back in the high school to college era, I had a thing for drawing and painting them. That probably should have been my first clue that I was falling behind in the flock….”

        Erika Rae, you really need to do standup! “Falling behind in the flock”—-you always make me slightly crazy, woozy and goofy. OK, not that I really need you to do that……

        Do you still have 395 children under the age of 4? And you plan to home school them?

        • Judy Prince says:

          Sorry, Simon, for the comments-column hijacking. No, wait—-I blame you, you irresponsible swimming pool loving, sister-in-law gaping slut!

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Hijack away, Judy! And be welcome to it.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Judy, I would wither with standup! And while your encouragement is a lovely epi-shot to my ego, I’ve been to see Slade perform live and I can tell you with 100% certainty, I don’t have what he has. Rather, I have been divinely predestined to remain hidden behind the warm-lap comfort of a baby on my knee, and by ‘baby’ I mean Mac Powerbook. As for the children, I stopped counting them long ago when no less than three were short at the end-of-the-day roll call. Sometimes, it is just better not to know. Surely, this detail alone disqualifies me from any sort of federal ‘blessing’ for operating a home school on such a scale.

        • Judy Prince says:

          All right, Erika Rae of the children’s brigade—-you don’t hafta do standup; you can do sitdown. You’re a HOOT no matter what position you take!

          Lost 3 of the kiddies, eh? Ah well, don’t worry, you’ll get better at math as time goes on……

  16. And seriously, what is it with girls and Steve Buscemi?

    I rarely get to use the world droll. So thanks for giving me the opportunity by writing such a droll piece. Well done.

    One quibble: Dutchman? I thought van Damme was the Muscles from Brussels?

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Dutchman? I have no idea what you’re referring to. The line says ‘Belgian’.

      And it always did.

      You’ve been talking to Wills about this, haven’t you?

      • Which demonstrates: I have no idea what I’m talking about.

        (I hadn’t. And I honestly read the piece and skipped to the comment form. I only saw the exchange you mentioned after you mentioned it)

        To be honest, I’d been perfectly willing to concede. My first thoughts weren’t that it was off. It went: “Wait. Is Brussels Dutch? Who’s Dutch again? Is Brussels a country? It’s not Austria, right? That was the Governator.”

        Because I’m American, and raised Catholic. Even if American geographical education were up to par, I was still studying the rosary when everyone was learning what Belgium means.

        Those Belgians. What beer.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          But we’ve always been at war with Oceania, Will.

          I can’t believe I messed that up. I even know the phrase, ‘The Muscles from Brussels’.

          This is all Universal Soldier 2‘s fault somehow.

          Like goddamn everything else.

          I enjoy a good whitbeer! Is that how it’s spelled? We have a place over here that’s massively popular in summer – the Belgian Beer Cafe. Man, I love that place. Basically, you sit on a rug in the sun and drink beer.

          Sometimes there are bands. And sausages.

          Mainly rugs and beer.

  17. Erika Rae says:

    You poor, fucked-up, shirtless soul.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I love you, Erika Rae!

      • Erika Rae says:

        I love you back! I’m going to start a shirt drive in my neighborhood. Expect a large, lumpy package soon.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Oh, man. This is like that thing with the Teamster’s Union, when I wrote about being alone and Jimmy Hoffa-less.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Heh. Jimmy Hoffa would also make a large, lumpy package.

          Also, I would like to state for the record that my favorite Steve Buscemi role was as Randall Boggs. It was all the joy of the creepy voice without the face.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I would imagine that if the Teamsters were to send you a package full of Hoffa it would be like receiving a brown paper-wrapped package of a two hundred pounds of cooked spaghetti.

          With tomato sauce.

          Ewww.

  18. Joe Daly says:

    (as cold and refreshing as if it had been squeezed straight from Martin Sheen’s heart)

    Thank God someone had the courage to acknowledge that Martin Sheen’s heart is cold and refreshing. Were I not a vegetarian, I would have my lawyers initiate a vigorous bidding process for the actor’s ticker in the hopes that one day I could make a burrito with it. After, of course, pouring one last glass of that cold and refreshing aortic elixir.

    I love that you know how to pimp, even when the object of your pimping treats floor coverings with such shameful disregard.

    You are the pimpacious wind beneath my wings.

    Oh, and you just happen to write like a badass motherfucker from hell. Which is a really high compliment in my books.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      The world will belong to the first company who comes up with an acceptable Martin Sheen Heart Tea and gets it to market. Mark my words.

      You, sir, are the kindest pimp who ever pimped. You are the pimping light upon the hill.

      And that’s a high compliment in anyone’s books, I think. I take my feathery pimp hat off to you, and say thank you.

  19. Judy Prince says:

    ” . . . drifting through its peaceful shallows was like listening to Mariah Carey’s sensual audiobook interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita.”

    HOOT!

  20. Irene Zion says:

    Simon,

    I would like to hear this: “Mariah Carey’s sensual audiobook interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita,”
    (among other things.)

  21. sheree says:

    This reminded me of a night time soap opera from the 80’s. Your post was intentionally funny though.
    Cheers and Happy New Year.

  22. Becky Palapala says:

    Whatever muscle this is you’re flexing…and don’t tell me, as I’m not sure I really want to know…I think you should keep doing it.

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