I received a very special e-mail today. It was addressed quite formally, “Dear William Dameron”. There are few people who refer to me using my first name and last name; mostly it is my Nigerian friends seeking assistance with cashing a check. But this e-mail was not from them. It was from a publisher. Had the e-mail been addressed as “Dear Bill” or “Dear Mr. Dameron”, I might have thought oh, yay! But because it was addressed as “Dear William Dameron” I thought oh shit, because anyone who addresses me this way is not human. They are robots. Robots send rejection e-mails.

Because I am not a robot, I take rejection personally. Somewhere along the lines of my nature and nurture programming, I was wired to accept rejection as a wholesale approach as opposed to a piecemeal thing. If you reject a part of me, I’ll just go ahead and throw the baby out with the bathwater and assume that I am not partially inept, but completely inept.

You might ask why not just learn from this experience? Irrational thoughts are by definition not rational thoughts. The funny thing is that when you are thinking irrationally, you do not know this. And by funny, I do not mean humorous. I mean strange. Immediately following the rejection, little annoyances and inconveniences became major hassles. On my drive home I drove around my condo twenty times looking for a parking spot. Psychologists say that I could have turned this into a positive.  I could have viewed the hike to my condo from my parking spot as a lovely little walk.

I say fuck Psychologists.

But I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. I chose to go to the gym in order to work out some of my negative thoughts and stress; a healthy approach to battling my demons. But those demons were one step ahead of me.

My demon thoughts manifested themselves as young fitness models. They posed and pumped iron. They grunted and said “look at me. Look at what you are not. Look at what you will never be, you fat little man. Even if we are dumb and cannot write, we look like brick shit-houses.”

They followed me into the locker room where they paraded their youth and firmness.

On my walk home from the gym I bought cookie dough.

Now, there is normally not a day so fine that it could not be brightened by a package of chocolate chip cookie dough, a bottle of red wine and some “Real Housewives”. But today, I found the relative fame and fortune of the Atlanta belles irritating. Take away the makeup, the hair and the mansions and you are left with some bitchy women with little discernible talent. Well, except for Kandi, she can write songs, but she sings like a smurf. If these women could make something of themselves, how un-talented was I? That question called for another bottle of wine.

And then, it all faded back to black.

“Oi, wake up!”

I’m not sure if it was the wine, the cookie dough or the despondent feelings that brought her to me, but when Amy Winehouse appears to you in a dream/vision, you’d best be listening.

“You feeling sorry for your-self?”

“That I am, Amy, that I am.”

“Ah, yeah, I know that feelin’ well, I do. But look ‘ere, you won’t find what you’re looking for in that bottle of wine. No, no, no, it’s in ‘ere.” She said pointing to her chest.

“Your bra?”

“Nah, you dolt! Not litra-lee; it’s in your ‘eart.”

After deciphering her cockney accent I began to think it was mostly BS.

“No it ain’t! Yeah, I can read minds, it comes with the terra-tory. Look, they gave me this beehive hairdo, Egyptian eyes and compared me to Ronnie Spector, but I was always me. The music was me. You think I just popped up on stage and became famous straight away? No, no, no. I paid my dues, I did and them was heavy dues. You be yourself because there ain’t no one else like you. Not them pretty boys, or them robot rejection letter writers that ain’t got no feelings. You write from your ‘eart and stay true to voice. It’s painful but it’ll happen.”

She looked down, adjusted her bra strap, made a quick sniffling sound and placed her hands on her hips. Then she looked directly at me. “You got a man?”

“Yes I do.”

“He’s a good man?”

“To know him is to love him.”

“Someone’s been listenin’ to my bonus tracks.” She smiled at my reference and then started to fade away. “You’re lucky to ‘ave a man like that Dear Mr. William Dameron, you must be somethin’ special.”

“Wait, before you go. Why you? Why me?” I asked her.

“I’m the fuckin’ tooth fairy in reverse. You place an empty bottle under your pillow and I leave you one of my teeth.”

She smiled to reveal more holes than a pair of her fishnet stockings. I couldn’t help thinking that there were too many empty bottles in this world and not enough teeth. Somewhere between a robot and Amy Winehouse is the sweet spot of emotions.

The morning sun splashed its light like cold water on my face. I sat up and reached under my pillow. No tooth, no bottle. I opened my notebook computer, smiled, and began to draw a picture.

I say fuck robots.

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