Or, The Best Way to Break a Girl's Heart is to Destroy Something She Loves.
My mom shares my affinity for things odd and insane, for things that look like or could be construed as being other things, and for things missing important parts of their being, which is why one day, I came home and she excitedly proffered a garden gnome who looked like he was playing air bass.
"Why is that gnome playing air bass?" I asked, not really caring to hear the answer, because a) it was a gnome, and b) it was a musically talented gnome and I was already in love.
"Well, he's not, but he was holding a rake or hoe or something and it fell off and broke and so he was discounted!" she replied with glee.
For me! For me! A rocking gnome! The rockingest gnome I ever did see!
He held a place of honor in my room, along with Barnabas the light-up gnome I acquired before going to MSU (at State, light-up gnomes are considered proper room decor, it's true), and a few other gnomey friends*. Then when I went back to State for a second, equally fateful go-round, he came with me** and was revered and adored by all my friends and family and neighbors and acquaintances. How could he not be? Do you know any rockin' gnomes that like to air-jam out to Pink Floyd's "Money"? Seriously. He was bad-ass, and as such, never needed a name further than Rockin' Gnome. What would be the point? He'd already fulfilled his destiny, by losing his rake and gaining an air bass guitar, a name other than the Original RG would sully his reputation. So Rockin' Gnome he remained, to one and all.
My boyfriend at the time was sort of infatuated with RG as well. He felt he carried a certain... cachet, being a mythological woodland creature with a penchant for a mean bass lick. It's true. Gnomes are usually preoccupied with menial tasks like gathering food, growing food, attending to the growth of foodstuffs, sometimes building small houses for their small ilk, and once or twice I'm sure one has cracked open a book (probably about food or building , but generally they are an industrious folk, not so keen on the arts. Rockin' Gnome somehow rose above that and dedicated his life to the pursuit of playing along with the radio/cd/mp3 on an invisible, meaningless instrument. It takes chutzpah to dispel with such tradition and embark on the road to pleasure and play, I'll give him that.
Anyway, my boyfriend, who kind of looked like if Johnny Knoxville and Carson Daly had a mildly retarded baby, did some video stuff for a local band who happened to be friends of his, and somehow it was decided the the Original RG would make a special guest appearance in a music video for them***. This was fine with me, and I lent him to the filmmaker and as far as I know, he appeared in the video, which probably never made into wide circulation given that it was a local band and I'm not even sure why they were making a music video. Then, being the amenable and otherwise unoccupied fellow he was, Rockin' Gnome lived on in the filmmaker's van, accompanying him to various photo shoots and probably the bar, silently rockin' his way to fame and gnome fortune.
Then we broke up, the filmmaker and I. Furious****, I demanded all my stuff back from his apartment (clothes, some owl stuff I'd bought him*****, some video games, and of course, the gnome. I was staying with my friend Emily for a bit because my dorm room situation was a mess and a half and I wanted to hide from him a little bit, so I had him drive to her apartment complex to give me my stuff back. And he did. He drove up in his van, and he threw the garbage bag full of my belongings at me, and then he reached into the van for the gnome. He held Rockin' Gnome high over his head, and my stomach lurched. The look in his eyes was venomous and full of hatred, and though I deserved such a look, the RG was but a pawn in the game and didn't deserve what I knew was coming.
"Don't--" I pleaded, more fearful for the plaster life of a garden statuette than for my own.
But he smashed the gnome on the cement, and he splintered into what seemed like a million little pieces, no relation to James Frey's monstrosity. I stood there, gaping at the mess and wondering what the fuck to do, and the filmmaker got in his van to drive away, and I retaliated by throwing a wooden owl plaque at his retreating van, which bounced off a tire in a most unthreatening way. As he drove away, I screamed at him, "YOU'RE JUST LIKE ANDY******!" Then I grabbed my garbage bag full of 3 months of my life (I know, right? All my little breakups prove to be this dramatic, and my long ones fizzle out rather stolidly) and ran upstairs to cry about my little gnome (not the breakup).
Emily comforted me while I called my mom to tell her about the bad news (again, the gnome, not the breakup) and mom tried to console me by telling me we'd find another rockin' gnome.
NEVER. There will never again in the future of gnomedom be a gnome brave enough to buck convention and "drop" his rake or hoe or whatever in the pursuit of rock 'n roll. He died so young, with so much promise.
I was, unbelievably, stricken with sadness. Over a gnome. True story. (Whether you want to use that as an analogy for the failed relationship that became of my inability to handle telling someone I don't like them anymore, that's your prerogative. I will continue to assume that it's because I have an unnatural attachment to weird things my mom gives me.)
I went back outside at some point, only to discover what had become of the remains of the Rockin' Gnome in the hour or so I'd needed to recuperate from witnessing his untimely demise. The filmmaker had picked up all of the larger shards of the Rockin' Gnome and used them to spell out, on the trunk of my car "I'm just like Andy?" with the gnome's mostly intact arm as part of the question mark. Were it not so creepy that he'd come back to do that, I would've found it sweet(ish). But really, it was super creepy. Right? I kept the question-mark-formerly-air-bass-playing arm in a paper bag and swept the rest into the trash. And kept that arm for rather a far longer time than was necessary or probably healthy.
But seriously, that was creepy, right?
And now for the part where Rockin' Gnome TRULY fulfills his destiny...
So, the next St. Patrick's Day, I got a card from my mom. Weird, right? Who buys St. Patty's day cards? Who actually sends them? Well, my mom does, apparently. I opened it, bemused that my mom had in fact become The Woman Who Sends a Card for Every Occasion (this turned out to be fiction, actually), and gasped when I saw Rockin' Gnome's visage on the front of the card, underneath the script "Have a ROCKIN' St. Patty's Day!" I gasped, I cried (not really), I nearly died (not really).
Fame achieved posthumously.
You gotta hand it to that gnome. He knew how to get things done.
Nevermind that my mom and I were probably the only two people in the whole wide world to find this card as touching and apropos as we did. That's fully beside the point.
*Uhm. I may have failed to mention that I have a thing for gnomes.
**Barnabas was pissed.
***Since he couldn't talk then and can't now, I'm assuming this is one of his life's goals, other than actually playing bass, but I never found one the right size. So sorry, Rockin' Gnome.
****Which is ridiculous, because we were breaking up because I cheated on him (first and last time). But I cheated on him because I didn't like him anymore and didn't know how to tell him. Hmmm. That's 21-year-old logic for you.
*****I also have a thing for owls. He did too. I thought it was meant to be. It was not.
******Probably the biggest insult I have ever thrown at a guy. Andy is this guy and the filmmaker knew all about him. Sorry, filmmaker.
Or, The Best Way to Break a Girl's Heart is to Destroy Something She Loves.
at 10:02 AM