Dylan said, “I can’t do a handstand” and I said, “What the fuck are you talking about, everyone can do a handstand.” Dylan said he couldn’t and I didn’t believe him so I pepped him up and forced him to try. Dylan got caught up in my hype, dutifully got into position and did a handstand. I said, “See, you can do a handstand fine.” Then Dylan’s upside-down facial expression changed from mild interest to concern and terror while his body crumpled down like Building 7 during 9/11. The total picture was so hilarious I clutched at my stomach and hyperventilated. “I told you I couldn’t do a handstand,” Dylan said sadly. “Hahaha! I guess I should have believed you!” I said and I didn’t even feel bad for laughing.
Recently I acquired some glorious new clothing accessories, all woven small gold metal plates across the shoulders with many gold chain accents that are long and fine and draping. The total effect is very opulent, feminine and really lovely. Later at home while writing at my desk, I could hear Dylan behind me sort of rummaging and fidgeting. There was to his maneuvers an edge of suppression and secrecy. I ignored him and continued to work because I could tell Dylan was up to something and I thought I’d let him have his eventual moment, whatever that shit might turn out to be. At length Dylan approached immediately near behind me. “Sup,” he said in a voice meant I guess to approximate the impassive listlessness of a sexy thug. Unhurriedly I turned around. There’s Dylan standing completely naked nonchalant hand upon jaunty hip wearing nothing more than my luscious gold metal shoulders bling. The many long fine draping chains swooshed with absurd seductiveness against his pale bare skin. “Sup,” he said again. Keeping my expression perfectly neutral I gazed at Dylan and made a casual motion for my phone. “Hold up babe,” I said. “I’m filming this.” “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!” said Dylan as he scampered away in a fit of terror and giggling.
We watched a film based on a true story about some people that survived a plane crash in the middle of winter up high on some mountains and they were stranded with no food and water so they had to resort to cannibalism and eat whoever was the first to die. My sister was indignant about the whole affair. “I would never do that,” she self-righteously sniffed. Her poetic sensibilities were ruffled. Cannibalism didn’t fit into her romantic view of the world. “I wouldn’t,” my sister said again, as though repeating the claim made it truer. “I’d just lie down quietly in the snow, fold my arms across my heart and close my eyes for good.” “Oh please, no you wouldn’t!” I exploded. “You’d be the first to eat us all. In fact I’m surprised you’re not gnawing on my arm right now.”
I’m always running into a room with the announcement, “I BOW TO THE BAO” and Dylan always ignores me. So I say it again, sometimes thrice even. Finally Dylan says, “You notice how I never laughed the first 45 times you tried that joke?” And then I just bow deeply, to the bao, and I giggle. This ongoing gag is endless, and only one of us is laughing.
I remember the first time Bassnectar called Dylan back when we still lived in Toronto and I descended into a loud fit of sneezing. I sneezed like seven times. The entire house shook and the bones in my chest reset. Afterward there was a pause. “What was that?” asked Lorin, afraid. “The thing about Nunich,” said Dylan, “is that she has very intense sneezes.” Many years later, Dylan took me to Laos for my birthday. Laos is my motherland, and it’s unknown if I had ever even been there, since I don’t know exactly where I was born, whether in Laos, Vietnam or Thailand. Anyway, on the first tranquil morning bright with sunshine when we landed in Vientiane, I looked around and breathed the air in. Laos is a very poor and undeveloped country with dirt lanes and dry river beds, skinny barefoot children selling trinkets, dulcet women in traditional garments gazing silently, old men smoking and looking on. Laotians are famous for being beautiful, friendly, polite and quiet. I spent my whole life somewhere else so I didn’t feel any immediate connection. I just looked around and was lost in thought. The day was bright and hot, the sun shone inscrutably down upon all. We saw a thin frail old woman making her ancient way slowly toward us. Suddenly she sneezed so deafeningly as to convulse the town. The noise was loud as thunder, a high magnitude earthquake couldn’t have been more disruptive. But no one batted an eye. Just another hot humid day in Laos. Dylan and I looked at each other. “It’s the sneeze!” I said. “The sneeze of my people!”
I told Dylan that overnight my arm got all crooked rammed beneath my head and pillow, lost proper blood circulation, and went horribly to sleep. “Yuck,” I said, “I hate that. It feels really awful, like when I bonk my funny bone. I flung my arm away like it belonged to someone else but the arm could just be flung only so far. It felt really fucking weird.” “You know what I do when that happens,” said Dylan, and he made a loose encircling gesture with his hand that I was soon to learn was fairly masturbatory. “It’s called ‘The Friendly Stranger,’” said Dylan defensively when he caught my expression. “I’m surprised you didn’t know that,” he added. I gazed silently at Dylan and only God can know all the resignation that my silent gaze contained. The friendly stranger. Shit. What planet is this.
Dylan caught me gazing interestedly at something and smiling. “What,” he said. “There’s a list I made,” I said. “It’s called ‘Things I Love.’”
THINGS I LOVE
“I’m last,” Dylan said sadly. “At least you made the cut,” I energetically countered. Privately I was embarrassed that most of the mentioned loved items had exclusively to do with food. I felt particular dismay at “Coconut Oil” landing squarely in first place. Not to knock coconut oil though, clearly I love that shit. Must’ve been hungry when I saw fit to make the list.
Only once can I remember when Dylan’s djing was a bit less than perfect. His mixing had moments that startled and jarred, he was way off his game, but allowances must be made since it was his first time ever djing high off his face on some mystery drug. His eyes were wide and wild and his entire head was drenched with sweat. At one point Dylan said, “This was the worst idea,” and he had the most hectic expression I’ve ever seen on his face. Later he said, “I think I just shit myself.” “I’m sure you didn’t,” I said, pretending to not be appalled. “Everything’s fine,” I added. Privately I wasn’t so sure, in fact I had to vigorously mask my dismay. Thankfully, Dylan didn’t shit himself, but he almost might as well have. Because sometimes what you believe matters more than the truth. Dylan made a new rule afterwards. No more djing while completely fucked up, especially not on mystery drugs. That whole experience, hilarious as it was, was fairly traumatizing for us both. It doesn’t need to be repeated. Once is sufficient.
There’s a wonderful couple who are longtime supporters and big fans of Dylan that conceived a child during an ill.Gates set at Priceless Festival so they named their baby daughter Gates. Fast forward a few years and now Gates is a gorgeous young lady maybe five years old, walking and talking, with skills, capabilities, interests, thoughts and feelings all her own. Every year at Priceless, Gates’ father gifts Dylan a bottle of fine Scotch, and this year young Gates was allowed to stay up far past her bedtime. Her father brought Gates to the dancefloor so she could enjoy her first ill.Gates show. Gates’ dad held her joyously aloft as Dylan dedicated the set to her, everyone cheered and clapped, the whole thing was touching and delightful. Clad in heavy ear protection young Gates danced to Dylan’s set smiling shyly and holding her father’s hand. Later we all went to the family trailer to visit Gates and her mother and draw pictures. Gates asked us to draw on both sides of the pages and she made charming appreciative comments. Then completely unprompted and involuntary, Gates in the pure luminous tones of a little girl said, “ill.Gates you’re my favourite dj in the whole world.” Before any of us could finish marveling at the sweetness of the moment, Wayne the resident shit disturber of our group said, “Clearly you’ve never heard of Bassnectar.”
“So,” I asked, “how was the flight.” “I dreamed I was a tiny African child who just pooped his pants,” said Dylan. “Please explain,” said I. “I was this little black boy riding bumpily along in the back of a rebel van and I pooped my pants. Then I woke up and realized the plane was landing and I guess the change in air pressure activated my anus so my body began to fart longer and louder than it has ever farted. I was in a kind of sleep paralysis too where I was trying to put a stop to the situation once I became aware of it but I had no active ability or bodily control. All I could do was slowly shake my head with a look of total horror upon my face as I was waking. Earlier I ate this huge vegan burrito stuffed with spices and beans, hence I guess the thrust and fullness of the action from my anus. I was seated next to this angry fat woman who previously fought me for one of my middle seat armrests. She wasn’t versed in the Jim Jefferies school of airplane etiquette (wherein window gets an armrest and a wall, middle gets two armrests, isle gets an armrest and a leg) so a part of me hoped the others on the plane would think this endless farting horror was her. Meanwhile all I could do was slowly shake my head. When I realized my wild eyes and head shaking only incriminated me more, I forced my head still and tried to just look neutral. The looks on peoples’ faces were like are you kidding me right now and holy Jesus Christ shit and what the goddamn actual fuck and this just can’t be happening. All I could do was sit there. Helplessly farting. Loud and long and endless. I could even feel my bum cheeks flapping, such was the continuous energy and pressure of the fart. It was the longest loudest fart of my life. I worried that I might really have shit my pants. And the whole time I just kept on farting.” “Hm,” I said. “I feel joy for not having been there.” “Yeah,” said Dylan. “It was one of those times when I was really glad you weren’t.”
Sometimes I wander around the house chanting old advertising jingles that have permanently damaged my brain. I’ll suddenly appear before Dylan and in an aggressive singsong remark, “Shopper’s drug mart! Everything you want in a drug store.” Dylan will gaze at me stonily and pretend nothing audible just happened. Later I’ll make another sudden appearance before Dylan and announce, “Fabricland! FABRICLAND.” Again Dylan will maintain an impassivity that is impressively total. When he can’t manage it, I’ll detect within him a mental effort to count his blessings. Sometimes it’s plain he’s come up short. In unrelated but equally compelling news, my sense of direction is shockingly poor. That’s why I call myself a Disoriental.
Dylan and I don’t ever really publicly display our affection so sometimes people don’t even know that we are together. Out at clubs, Dylan spends much of his time socializing, mingling, schmoozing, and chatting to fans, often he leaves me to my own devices. He knows that I can take care of myself and handle business, so he’s not exactly spending all of his time keeping an eagle’s eye guarding and protecting me. Usually shit runs fine but every once in a while I get bothered or harassed by any number of boring clueless desperate annoying persistent aggressive guys.
One time, me and my girls were all dancing and having fun. Suddenly some dude barges into our dance circle and starts drastically imposing himself. Some guys seem to think that if a girl isn’t handcuffed and chained to a man, she isn’t spoken for, and is thus fair game. These guys never seem to consider that the girl in question might not at all be stoked or interested, regardless of her current relationship status.
Anyway so this guy drunkenly and aggressively dances into each of us girls. He dances at each of us in turn, lewdly, suggestively, and unpleasantly. My girlfriends moved quickly from casual amusement to being distressed and upset. We gave each other disrupted and annoyed looks and glared at the guy. The guy kept thrusting into each of us under the apparent assumption that we couldn’t get enough. My girls and I were displeased. Dylan meanwhile was chewing his face off high on ecstasy and dancing like no man alive could be happier or more carefree. “Dylan,” I said to him in an undertone, “That guy is bothering us. Do something.”
It took me ages to get through to Dylan, so complete was his joie de vivre. Finally, I used my foot is being put down now voice, and Dylan snapped to. I explained the situation all over again in the gravest tones. Processing badness and untoward behaviour is hard to do when you’re Dylan, especially when you’re Dylan and you’re high on E.
Finally the husband understood. He puffed up his chest, widened his eyes, and smartly tapped the shoulder of some guy that had nothing at all to do with anything. Shoulder tapped random guy turned toward Dylan. All of us girls stood in a semi-circle watching. Dylan slow motion pointed at each of our vaginas with exaggerated emphasis. After each vagina had been accounted for, Dylan made a flourishing “NO” symbol by balling his hands into fists and crossing his forearms firmly forming a giant X. He accompanied this strong “NO” gesture with a slow single head shake that covered a wide distance from left to right and left again. Innocent random guy gazed at Dylan. His dude what the fuck face was truly great. Then wrongly accused innocent guy walked away.
“Fucking Jesus Christ, Dylan. WRONG GUY,” was what my facial expression tried to say. Dylan meanwhile reentered at once into his state of ecstatic joie de vivre, and returned to dancing, confident in a job well done, like no man living had ever done a job better, and like all life and he himself could hardly be more charming, perfect, pleasing and fun. The confidence of a happy husband. Fuck.
I read in some article that for maximum health you should hug and be hugged 14 times a day by someone you love. “Fourteen!” said Dylan. “That’s a lot of hugs.” Some days I am militant about the number. I’ll appear before Dylan in staunch position and block his passageway. “Fourteen,” I remind him. “Today we’ve not yet even had one! I am ready to receive my hug.” Dylan will concede but sometimes negligently. He’ll with open secrecy text behind my back and use the free hand to pat me in a distracted and casual attempt to reassure me that all is on track. I let the distraction hugs mostly slide and only once in a while critique the poorness of the show. When I am too soft on hug crime, Dylan will make moves prematurely to leave. I then stiffen my body up, set my face to a bold expression of maximum angst and declare, “THE HUG ISN’T OVER YET.” The door slam record scratch drama of my loud announcement snaps Dylan back into the solemnity of the moment. “Jesus,” he says, “you are a Hug Nazi.” “13 MORE TO GO,” I say in a voice like I always totally know the number without explicit counting. And so we hug. We never actually make it daily to 14 but we get some good ones in there. It’s a very nice time. Hugs. They matter.
I once witnessed Dylan wake up by punching himself hard in the balls. He sprang up in bed all angry, shouting, “Fuck!” and then displayed an agonized face of visible distress. I chuckled, said, “Poor baby,” and felt sorry as best as I could, because how am I to know how much pain you feel from a sudden hard balls punching. I only know what they’ve told me and apparently it’s lots. I also know from the time I used to kick balls for money, crush, shock and tie them up, or stick the ball sack bounteously with many long sharp pins, but that of course was skewered knowledge, because those motherfuckers loved that shit, so much so that they paid for it. Then later I’d torture my friends with graphic recaps of the day’s ball punishment and amuse myself greatly watching guys who possessed zero desire to have their own balls be destroyed struggle to process the dark details of all my joyfully horrible stories. What I love about life is that it’s fun, and what I love about the world is that it’s fucked up, confusingly, maddeningly, beautifully. And good thing, because otherwise it’d all be just silence and loneliness, harsh words and complaints, emptiness and heartbreak, like tears in rain. Might as well welcome the pain.
Afterward the two interviewers joined the rest of us downstairs on the patio for a pitcher and something to eat. I don’t know how the subject came up but during conversation one of them said, “Well this one time, I went to these guys’ house and they were gay. But they were just hanging out. They were like. Just dudes.” I gazed at the speaker, my expression mild, expecting more. “They were… just dudes,” he said again, as if the repetition more conclusively clarified his train of thought and beefed up his thesis. I don’t know if this guy expected to in all gay company be immediately imprisoned inside a semen-drenched enclave helplessly confronted by a swirling cesspool of seething testicles and permanently erect penises flying ramrod and relentless into every male available mouth and anus visibly in range and line of sight or what, but he seemed to be recalling the actual experience now, reliving the unexpected calm of it. He meanwhile didn’t seem to be aware that exactly two such “just dudes” were with pastoral elegance seated at the table with us all. “Ah yes,” I said finally. “‘Just dudes.’ Those would be the straight-looking-and-acting ones. One must watch for those.” And I grinned. I might’ve even winked. But in the silent secret fortress of my brain, I laughed out loud.
One festival night after his set Dylan was immediately surrounded by fans. He accepted compliments, told jokes, took photos, hobnobbed, hi fived, smiled big and grinned. Then one young fan apologetically suddenly said, “Sorry man, I just came up with a new nickname for you, but I’m not sure I should say it.” “Well now you gotta,” said Dylan gamely. “It takes a lot to offend me, so go ahead.” The fan sighed self-consciously and stalled for time. Then he said, “Over-the-hill Gates” in such a muttering tone as to be almost inaudible. Nonetheless what the young fan said still managed to be heard loud and clear by everyone near. I stifled a laugh and turned my head slightly away. Dylan’s face darkened as he scowled. This is a sight to see since Dylan’s default facial expression is happy-go-lucky if not outright zany. Dylan was annoyed. “Sorry dude,” said the young fan, and he did look sorry, even though all of us were trying hard pretending to not be laughing. Later we told Bil Bless what happened and he also got a good laugh in. Nice to see Bil Bless laugh as he usually seems depressed. Months later at another festival, Dylan was smiling grand and effusive hanging out after his set feeling fresh. He chatted contentedly with friends. Out of the blue a guy came streaking by, leaned into Dylan and hectically said, “Over-the-hill Gates” and with a worried face he scurried away. Dylan’s face darkened as he frowned, he looked quickly left and right, but it all happened too suddenly and the culprit fast disappeared. Then Dylan spied Bil Bless nearby in the shadows chuckling. You could tell he put the kid up to it. “Wiseguy,” said Dylan with eyes like slits, and he shook his fist at all of it.
We spent an afternoon in Paris, it was Dylan’s first time there. We had our phones off to avoid roaming charges, we didn’t have anyone local to help us with anything, and we hadn’t yet changed our money. The day was insufferably hot, there were thousands of tourists trudging everywhere, you couldn’t get away from them, or the heat. Dylan got all pissy and loudly complained about the tourists, the weather, everything. He ignored the fact that we were tourists too, and that the intense heat could technically be blamed on nobody. Hours later of trudging under the relentless sun and a lot of total misery, we boarded a train and I by that point resolutely stopped talking. We rode that train in an obstinacy of silence heading south of Paris, eventually lost consciousness, and fell deeply asleep. A railway worker woke us at the end of the line, we had entirely overshot our destination, we were the absolute last two left on the train. The railway worker walked us long and down along the tracks away from the last station back to the world without saying a word. He spoke French, we spoke English, our interaction was for the most part simple hand gestures and silence. I was still annoyed with Dylan for having been such previously ill-tempered and unpleasant company, Dylan for his part held himself stubborn and aloof. As the railway worker lead us quietly away, Dylan stopped in his tracks and in a shocked and shuddering voice he said, “I can’t believe she left us!” “Who?” I said. “Nunich!” said Dylan. I looked long and hard and deeply at Dylan. “I’m Nunich!” I said. Motherfucker’s lost his mind, I thought. I gazed at Dylan with more dismay than has probably ever shown on my face. Dylan’s face expressed an equal consternation. His eyes were blank and wild. I pretty much had to slap the guy several times to bring him the fuck back. Dylan challenges the accuracy of this account, who fucking knows what he thinks went down. All I know is it’s crazy when the person you’ve loved for years suddenly looks at you and passionately honestly doesn’t know who the fuck you are. Love. Sometimes it blindsides you by being holy shit strangely seriously unsettlingly surreal and fucked up.
Seated on a stage edge at festivals late at night outdoors in extremely cold conditions, I often shove my freezing hands with heedless familiarity deep into and between Dylan’s thighs in order to steal there what warmth from him I can. This action usually works and casually comforts and soothes. I performed this maneuver automatically one consumingly cold late hours festival evening. As I sat there huddled gazing obscurely about while listening to the sounds of the music and the night, it occurred to me in a way that was both gradual and sudden that something was different and strange, not normal, and not right. Absently I moved my hands between the warm thighs searchingly upward in propulsions that changed from casual interest to confused concern to outright panic. I felt deeply around the V-shaped recess with a wondering insistency as my trepidation grew. No balls. NO BALLS. I looked up and aghast at the owner of the borrowed thighs and it wasn’t Dylan. It wasn’t Dylan at all! It was some completely unsuspecting festival female that was fully not my husband. She gaped at me thunderstruck as my offending hands below froze in their previously blind and utterly urgent balls-seeking endeavours. In that suspended moment, I don’t really know whose face registered more speechless horror, hers or mine. Once I could wrench myself out from the paralyzing spell of the shared shock and our mutual stare, I flingingly withdrew my provocative hands and fled. Who knew marriage was such a minefield of molestation and mayhem. Shit.
During the conversation, I mentioned that even after 11 years, people often aren’t aware that Dylan and I are together. We’re not at all into torrid displays of public affection, and there’s also the fact that I called Dylan my roommate for years. Sometimes I still call him my roommate. Initially I wouldn’t even let Dylan tell his mother that we were any kind of anything, so the first time I met Dylan’s family, his mom set me all up in the guest room separated from everybody. Upon retiring, I paid the price for my primness, and I was lonely. Dylan had to sneak over to my room after dark and later he said, “Can I at least tell my mom?” “I guess,” I said. When Dylan dropped the news, “That’s nice dear,” was what his mother said. Scarlett made a huffy sound. “That’s what you do, Nathan,” Scarlett said, “You hide your wife.” “No I don’t,” Nathan said. “Yes, you do,” Scarlett insisted. “When you’re on the road, you don’t let people know you’re married. You don’t think of me. You put your music first.” Nathan narrowed his eyes and puffed his cheeks a bit. He sat there stiffly deep in thought. “Yes,” he suddenly said, “That’s right. Music first!” “You asshole! You’re not supposed to say that!” Scarlett exploded, adding, “There goes your blowjob for tonight.” A fleeting agitation flashed across Nathan’s face, but he kept his gaze level and straight. He was defeated but defiant. “He’s just talking about what he most likes to beat,” Dylan said. Nathan’s a drummer so Dylan was angling rather lamely for wit. “Well he can have fun beating his dick,” Scarlett said. I covered my mouth to hide a desire to laugh and cleared my throat instead. Dylan and I glanced at each other. I winked and he grinned.
Shortly after we moved to San Francisco, Dylan gave several solemn lectures warning me about earthquakes and how I must act whenever they might happen. He went out of his way to be melodramatic in his speech in order to underscore the urgency. The first time a little tremor occurred, I heard a whole bunch of rapidfire scuffling and struggling, which was more dramatic than the actual earthquake. Then Dylan streaked past shouting, “Run, Nunich, Run!” I didn’t run and instead gazed with vague fascination at all the trinkets and things lightly quivering for some seconds on the room’s walls and shelves. Then I went to the door and saw Dylan standing in the middle of the yard in his underwear. He was clutching a pile of hard drives and a modular synth. I shook my head at him and covered my mouth to cut short a laugh. Dude sure can hustle, no matter how simple or serious the seeming situation, and judging by those hard drives and the modular synth, we get of his priorities quite a good inside glimpse.