So. Today @populuxecowboy made a remark on here about listening to Cocteau Twins, which reminded me: hey, I like Cocteau Twins. I like them a whole lot. I wonder if Apple Music has Cocteau what am I thinking of course they do. Still on the Keihin Tohoku back to Kawasaki, I fired up Heaven or Las Vegas and closed my eyes.
Shortly, it occurred to me that I was introduced to Cocteau Twins by a young woman with whom I was once very close; in fact, I lived with her for several weeks in 1990. Because she had a pretty major hand in breaking up my first marriage. Last I'd heard, she'd gotten married to an artist pal.
So I opened my eyes, opened Google, entered "Heidi Frohring," and discovered that she's been dead for some ten years now.
Heidi was young, vivacious, flashy, stylish, and out of her goddamn mind. She had an perpetual critical mass of curly red hair, a VW Cabriolet of which she was inordinately fond, an eclectically-decorated apartment on the South slope of Queen Anne, and an enormous bed the size of a racquetball court that she called, no shit, "Mount Olympus." She might have single-handedly kept Archie McPhee's in business for fifteen years running.
We met in an Ethics class at Seattle Central Community College. I said a lot of stuff that infuriated the instructor, and Heidi egged me on by laughing at me. She followed me around after classes, and got past my standoffish nature by giving me endless supplies of cigarettes and buying me endless pints at the Comet, back when you could still smoke in bars and I could still smoke at all. She introduced me to Cocteau Twins and 4AD; I introduced her to They Might Be Giants and XTC.
In addition to everything else, Heidi was charming. She made me feel like I was interesting; she was the first person to make me realize that being an intellectual could be sexy. She was attracted to me, and said so, loudly and at length.
She maybe could have avoided saying it to my wife of the time, however. Wife One had a tendency to jealousy at the best of times; there was only so much of this she would take before I was shown the door. By "So much," I mean "About thirty-five minutes," of course. I moved in with my former roommate, but it turned out that his wife had all these expectations for her spouse, such as living by themselves without a giant smoking drunken weepy man-child barging into their place at three in the morning.
So, I moved in with Heidi, for a bit. I was making pretty good money working at both Boeing and getting a stipend from the college, and she was well-set. She just told me to stay with her one night, and then the next night, and then she was picking me up after swing shift at Plant II down on East Marginal. My co-workers were fascinated by this girl. When I walked out of the plant gate in the evening, she would be there, with the top down on the VW, IN SEATTLE IN NOVEMBER, standing up and shouting, "JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHNNNNNNNN!" and waving both arms.
It was nice, and we were nice, for a bit. But it wasn't going to be a forever thing, and I think we both knew that, even though I didn't. So I moved into a house in Ravenna with another pal of hers, and she stopped in from time to time, exploding in the front door like some sort of sexy Ur-Kramer. We stayed friends, and eventually I got married again and moved to Issaquah, and she got married, and then I got divorced again, and then she got divorced, and then she died of pneumonia, I guess.
I never stopped loving her, because you just couldn't stop loving her; nobody could.
Two things. Here is thing one. She was always, I mean always, mental for tapirs. Yes, tapirs. She always had a random fact about tapirs, and, whenever the conversation hit a lull, could be counted upon to insert one of them into conversation. I was extremely gratified to discover that she had eventually done her Zoology degree at UW and had gone to work at Woodland Park Zoo as a tapir zoologist. What a perfect gig for her.
Thing two. Not long after I moved into the house in Ravenna, my parents decided to come up for dinner to visit and make sure that their recently-divorced son was okay, or something. I knew that the combination of Conservative Evangelical Parents and Living Claymore Mine Not-Actually Girlfriend would not go down well, so I explained to Heidi that my parents would be coming around for a visit on Saturday, and that she might be bored by the whole experience. (You can see where this is going.) Of course, my parents had just sat down on the sofa and commented on the cleanliness of the place when a familiar VW roared up front. Soon, Heidi burst through the front door: "Jooooooooooohhhhhhnnnnnn. DARRRRRRRRRRRRRRLING." She flounced into the room, planted herself on the sofa between my parents (I believe my mother might have experienced her first stroke at this point), produced, my hand to God, a paper bag from her purse, from which she produced one of those old-style quart tinnies of Foster's, cracked it, killed half of it at a go, and looked around and said, "Which one is (belch) Ed?"
I burst out laughing, I thought my mother was going to purse her lips right off, and my dad was trying like heck not to crack up. Then we all went out to dinner at Two Dagos From Texas, and, no shit, SHE CHARMED THE HELL OUT OF THEM.
There's a thing three, but, like most stories involving Heidi, it is completely and utterly unbelievable.
So, that was Heidi. Sleep well, love.