Kim and I had known each other quite a while before we started dating or became a couple. In point of fact, before Kim and I started dating, I had given up on the ritual. It simply had gotten too painful. I was well into my thirties at that point and none of my relationships had lasted more than six months. The common variable in that equation seemed to be me so I just assumed I was never going to find someone. I had not gone on a date for maybe eighteen months prior to Kim’s and my starting up.
In fact, Kim had earlier been one of those who had shot down whatever overture I was making. I had gotten back from a business trip to England and picked up a Doctor Who tchotke or two that I thought she would like. I called her up, said I was coming over to her apartment, and headed over in vague hopes of maybe possibly something might happen. Kim and I were more acquaintances than anything else at this point.
I won’t say she was exactly welcoming. The apartment was small and we sat at opposite ends of her living room that was probably no bigger than the office in which I sit as I type this. Kim was distant and cool; I don’t know what I had said or what was going on with her but I got the impression I’d better not try any funny stuff. I got the impression from the whaling harpoon that Kim had one hand around, holding upright, as she stared at me from her chair. It was an old fashioned harpoon, wood haft, about six foot long from tip to butt and Kim had a slightly Captain Ahab look on her and I was the Great White Whale. It now hangs on the wall of the office, by the way. The tip is right above my head as I type this.
What I got out of that evening was that Kim was weird, maybe a little crazy, and definitely not for me. I, of course, was wrong. Things eventually changed between us. Kim was going through a divorce at the time of the afore-mentioned whaling incident. We had met, as I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere, while working together on my Doctor Who play project that ultimately failed to launch. She had also become quite aGrimJack fan as well and had written me a long, soulful reaction of her response to issue 9,”All My Sins Remembered.” I called her up in response and wondered why she hadn’t just called me. She said some things needed to be written rather than spoken and, being a writer, I couldn’t much disagree. We only lived a mile apart but, sensing she needed to talk some more, I suggested meeting for coffee. So we met and we talked and we went for a walk in the moonlight and I decided what she really needed was a kiss.
Well, I’m a male and we sometimes think like that.
So I kissed her and she later confessed that it really caught her by surprise… although she kissed back.
She thought I was gay.
“Well, add it up,” she insisted, defending her interpretation. “You were in theater, you were “sharing” an apartment with another guy, you never seemed to have a girlfriend, and you never seemed to respond to my flirting.” Result: I was gay until proven otherwise.
I did prove otherwise. Nothing wrong with someone being gay, by the way. I’m just not.
Flash forward to the wedding. It was a hot day and we posed for our wedding album before the ceremony. We were both exhausted; I’d been finishing a GrimJack assignment the night before (funny how he kept showing up in our romantic life – we referred to him as our “scar faced Cupid”) which I handed off to my editor as I entered the church. So I was feeling whimsical and puckish (not always my most endearing traits) and it shows with the look Kim is giving me in one of the close-ups, warning me through her smile. I had just finished whispering sweetly to her, “Now, whatever you do, don’t think of elephant farts.” Like I said – puckish.
It was a biggish wedding. Lots of friends and family wishing us well. It had the best man and the matron of honor and even had Kim’s favorite teddy bear, George, as the Best Bear. I was in front, waiting, and my Best Man, my twin Brother Joel, and my other groomsmen were all whispering words of encouragement such as, “It’s not too late. . . There’s the side door right there. . . .We have a car ready. . . “
Meanwhile, my bride had locked herself into the bathroom at the back of the church.
As Kim later told me, she was freaking. “What are you doing?!” she yelled at herself. “You did this before, remember? It didn’t work!” She only came out when Mia McDavid, her Matron of Honor, threatened grievous bodily harm on the Best Bear if she didn’t unlock the door that instant and go up the aisle and marry me. She swore that Kim would never see George again.
I knew nothing of this until later. When Kim came up the aisle, she was beautiful, radiant, maybe a little nervous. My bride.
I’d seen her in so many different settings over the years. She had desperately wanted to take Improvisation lessons from Del Close and did so when he was with the ImprovOlympics. I watched her on some jam nights when she was up on the stage in a jam session with a lot of other students, two of whom were Chris Farley and Mike Meyers. She held her own.
I remember the Women In Comics panels that she would chair at the old Chicago ComicCon. I always thought they were some of the most interesting panels at those Cons because they weren’t about someone hyping something – they were about the industry, about comics, about issues and not always simply about women working in comics or how they were portrayed. Kim would get some really interesting women up on those panels and get them talking and then get the audience into a dialogue as well.
I also remember a photo of Kim from before she and I started going out. It was shortly after her first marriage ended and Mia, later Kim’s matron of Honor, had taken her out to the Rush Street area in Chicago for a Girl’s Night Out. Wound up being the night that the male stripper group, the Chippendales, were also at that bar and a Chicago Tribune photographer was there to capture the ladies enjoying themselves. Kim’s in the front row on the picture and so is the side/back of the dancer. There’s no question in the picture where Kim’s eyes are. Bee line stare at the guy’s package. And she was really enjoying herself.
Kim was very healthy that way.
She was so many things. We were supposed to grow old together and, when she died, I suddenly had no future because she wasn’t a part of it. I had to re-make it, re-imagine it, because that’s what she would have wanted. We talked about that, long before she got sick. Whichever one of us went first, the survivor was to go out and make a new life, find a new person to love, and find a new life. I just never thought it would be me. Kim was so full of life that I couldn’t imagine her dying before I did.
That is one of the things she taught me, one among many. Life will surprise you. Life goes on. Remember the good things. Take the joy.
You’re still there in my heart, Kim. With love and joy. I’ll meet you over at Munden’s.
Last one there buys the drinks.
John Ostrander writes GrimJack: The Manx Cat, new installments of which appear every Tuesday here on ComicMix, and much of Munden’s Bar, new installments of which will reappear anon here on ComicMix. Both for free. His new Suicide Squadmini-series is out there from DC Comics, and his Star Wars: Legacy is out there from Dark Horse, both at finer comics shops across the galaxy.