Moodswing - The Wreckage of Joan Collins

Grant crashed his car in the same place I humiliated myself

I suppose it's saying something that Grant did not die, though technically it could still happen. It's true that he presently seems to be up and walking around in a kind of quasi state of OK-ness, but he could still have one of those freak neck fractures or something, like in the urban myth when that guy walked around seemingly fine after a fender bender, then six days later someone slapped him on the back hello and he dropped down dead on the spot. So I have been slapping Grant on the back plenty since his car accident last week, but so far nothing.

"Ouch," he'd say. "Stop that."

"You pussy," I taunted him.

He did complain about a general stiffness, though, which I guess is to be expected after you've called all your friends to tell them you went through the windshield of your car. Not that Grant went through the windshield of his car, it's just that he called and told everybody he did. "And my car is totaled," he groaned over the phone.

This, of course, I had to see. He'd wrecked it right at the corner of North Highland and Greenwood avenues, one of the most visible intersections in the entire world. Nine years ago, I got blotto drunk at that intersection while waiting for the Olympic torch relay to finally go by, and to this day I still encounter people who recognize me as the fool who thought it would be fun to crawl on the hood of the lead car as it tried to inch its way through the crowd. In my mind I lay there all sexy, like Michelle Pfeiffer on a piano in The Fabulous Baker Boys, but in reality, as it has been recounted to me over the years, I was simply sprawled awkwardly on the grill like a dead moose. So I find it fitting that Grant suffered public humiliation in the same place.

Even before the car wreck, it was becoming a consensus that this particular car brought out the bad in Grant. He has owned about 19 cars since I met him, some for even less than the mere six weeks he'd had this one, but none of them caused him to careen down side streets like a crazed Iraqi tank like this one did. It was a white, turbo-charged 1986 convertible Chrysler Le Baron, with leather interior the color of ox blood and a body so metal-heavy you could melt it down to make a collection of communist statues. He christened it "Joan Collins," and in six weeks he'd been ticketed twice, and that's not even counting the time we were pulled over on our way to sneak into the Inman Park Parade last month. That officer, who we believe was the notorious 6-foot-4 transsexual police woman of the Old Fourth Ward, simply listened to his pleadings ("Seriously, I used to be a deacon") gave him a look that could have curdled the earth's core and let us go on our way. It might have mattered that Grant was not speeding in that particular instance, or even driving, but rather he was perched with his ass on the back headrest as he bellowed through a bull horn, "Lies, lies, it's all lies!"

Later, after Grant informed me of the accident and its aftermath, I had the choice of first going to see him or see the wreckage of Joan Collins, so of course I chose the latter. He'd made the accident sound like a scene straight out of Hollywood Babylon, with blood and twisted shrapnel mixed with bits of Jayne Mansfield's brains splattered on the asphalt along with a little dead Chihuahua and an empty-yet-perfectly intact whiskey bottle. Who could resist that? Yet when I arrived there was barely any evidence of a disaster. The crowd had dispersed and Joan Collins had been pushed to a metered parking space and looked to have suffered a couple of drastic collapses of the steering wheel and bumper variety. Oh, and there was a crack in her windshield."Bitch," I yelled at Grant as I approached him soon afterward, "when you tell me you totaled your car and went through the windshield, I wanna see some carnage! Look at you, you do not even have any blood in your hair!" Then I slapped him on the back.

He was recuperating not in a hospital but on the patio of the Local, where he actually expected to bartend that night. "He looks terrible," I told the owner, and he did. Car crashes take a lot out of you, even if you don't leave any of your brains or blood behind. Plus Grant kept clutching his big barrel chest, which had been what slammed against Joan's steering wheel and caused it to collapse. Lary had been duly alerted and was on the way with a supply of pirated pain killers, but in the mean time Grant looked like a wreck himself, so I slapped him on the back again.

"Ouch, stop that."

"You pussy," I said, and we laughed a little, me and Grant, with my hand on his back and his hand on his chest. Seeing us like that, you would have thought I was looking down at Grant's big head right then and being damn happy he didn't have blood in his hair. You would have sworn I was thanking sweet Jesus that he had walked away, however stiffly, from the wreckage of Joan Collins.

hollis.gillespie@creativeloafing.comHollis Gillespie is the author of Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales From a Bad Neighborhood (HarperCollins), currently in development at Paramount for a TV series, and Confessions of a Recovering Slut and Other Love Stories (HarperCollins), due out June 28. Her commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered."??