Vision: Gail & the Big, Bad Wolf by Howard Hanger

April 14, 2016 |

Close friends, good whiskey and a blazing fire in the fireplace on a blustery mid-winter night can provoke a primal giddiness like little else.  That’s what we had: me with two good friends, toasty fire and fine bourbon. The wind was offering a full-throated howl, enthusiastically rattling our old windows.  Jacqueline, one of the besties, suggested that this must have been what the 3 little pigs experienced with the Big Bad Wolf; and said she was quite pleased that our house was made of bricks.

“Gale-force winds” is what the weather forecaster had accurately predicted. I dated a woman in college named Gail who had an incredibly loud and powerful laugh and was damn proud of it.  When she got tickled, her laughter could blow your hair back and have your ears ringing for minutes later.  She joked about her Gail-Force laugh.  A case could be made that Gail and the Big Bad Wolf were just outside our walls that night.

The radiance of the fire on our bodies and the sumptuous warmth of the whiskey in our bellies and brains attracted our hearts, bodies and brains to each other like moths to a bug-zapper.  Though we had been tight friends for several years, with Gail and Big-Bad Wolf going at it outside, I sensed a tangible passion sizzling between us.

As if on cue, we found ourselves each grinning at the others.  Had we been a trio of lovers, the setting could not have been better.  But that was not our M.O. We were rather lovers of ideas.

“So,” said Benjamin, “What do think of past lives?  Do you believe in that stuff?”

“Absolutely,” Jacqueline chimed in. “I’m not so big on souls bouncing around from body to body; but every last one us has DNA which comes from millions and millions of ancestors. Lots of past lives swimming around in our blood.”

“It’s one reason I’m not big on reincarnation,” Benjamin offered.  “I just can’t imagine having ever lived, say, as a dung beetle; although the idea of coming back as a dolphin does have its appeal. And anyway, why is it that so many people who think they have had past lives always claim that they were once some king or wizard or Kublai Khan?”

“If I have past lives,” I tossed in, “they would be generations of Jewish servants. I love Jewish traditions and I thoroughly enjoy cooking for people.”

Gail and the Big Bad Wolf were having a get-down-and-boogie-hey-day outside – almost as if they wanted to be part of the conversation.  We stopped for awhile and just listened. “All of our ancestors have experienced wild, bitter cold weather like this,” Jacque-line murmured, “sometimes with little or no shelter. Probably we all have ancestors or past lives who have died in weather just like this.  Maybe that’s why we’re having this conversation.  Maybe the brutal wind and ruthless cold are calling us to remember.”

We listened to fire crackle and storm shriek.  Flame-flushed faces looked at each other.  Jacqueline grinned. “Wanna hug?” she said. We put down our drinks, stood up and hugged as if we’d known each other not just in this life, but in countless lives past.  “Whether or not we have past lives,” she said, “I feel I could hug you two for the next thousand lives ahead.”  We kept the hug going and began swaying to the primeval sounds outside our walls that our ancestors had heard and were possibly still hearing through our own ears.