Discover more from Shalom Auslander's Fetal Position
Position Available: Best Friend
Deadline for Applications: ASA Fucking P.
From right: Craig, Cash, Dean, Luke
My best friend in the world, Craig Markus, passed away last week.
He had been diagnosed only recently with Guillain Barre Syndrome, which is not usually fatal, and which we had joked at the time was appropriate, as it sounded like a cheap French prostitute.
Applicants for this position will have at least twenty years of being there for me at every turn. Craig and I had been friends for over twenty years, through the births of my children, the raising of his sons and mine - through lower schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges - through my divorce from my parents and his divorce from his wife, through our depressions and our joys, through the ups of our careers and the downs of our careers.
Naturally, his passing leaves me with an enormous hole in my heart and as such, I will be looking to fill that hole as soon as possible, in the hopes of damming this flood of tears and closing the yawning abyss of loneliness that now hounds me like a cur from hell morning and night without cease.
Qualified applicants should answer the following questions, and submit along with two personal references and the three other people you have been the best friend in the world to, and who don’t know what they will do if you ever pass away.
1. Are You Funny?
I don’t mean jokey or gaggy. I'm not looking for Shecky Greene or Kevin Hart or Judd motherfucking Apatow. Craig had a light laugh and a dark humor; he was self-aware and self-deprecating. He understood that my jokes masked my pain, and that that pain would never go away, and he had pain of his own that we laughed at together. Qualified applicants for this critical position will be able to laugh at the following:
life, death, sex, God, organized religion, belief, doubt, anxiety, depression, therapy, psychiatric medications, family, sexual dysfunction, sexual desire, aging, work, failure, insecurity, low self-esteem, insomnia, middle age, stress, paranoia, the Klan, liberals, conservatives, Florida, America, capitalism, Arrested Development, Family Guy, LeBron, rich people, white girls with tattoos in Chinese, Seth Godin, Los Angeles, his ex-wife, his ex-girlfriend, his other ex-girlfriend, his other other ex-girlfriend, my mother, rabbis, Hell, sin, prayer, social media, tech bros, pornography, BDSM, fisting, the Talmud, philosophy, Peloton, Pilates, people who drive Teslas, yoga and Buddhism, along with the usual genitals and their related bodily functions.
In fact, if there's anything you can't laugh at, you should probably save us both a lot of time and fuck off.
2. Are you patient?
This position will entail a lot of listening to me bitching and moaning, 60 hours a week minimum, about the same fucking shit again and again and again.
Please be prepared to pretend to be interested when I complain about my writing, and nod along when I say things like "Fuck God."
3. Have You Bought the Bullshit?
Or, conversely, are you a bullshitter? Because if you answered yes to either, this just isn't going to work out. Craig had no patience for bullshit, and hated the people who trafficked in it. Do you talk about maximizing your productivity, or monetizing your whatever, or manifesting whatever-the-fuck? Do you read books about living your best life and leaning in and being a badass? Fuck me, do you talk about your bucket list? Are you interested in ancient Stoicism because Ryan Holiday says it can help your career? It's not easy to resist, I know, but Craig had a strong moral compass that never wavered, even as he worked in the sewers of Marketing and Advertising. So if the books on your bedside table start with the words "How To" followed by the words "success" or "rich" or "growth" or "power", you should probably save us both a lot of time and fuck off.
3. Are Your Children Your Entire Life?
In this time of no fathers, Craig lived for his sons. He never missed a hockey game, birthday or graduation, big or small. We worked together, and everyone we worked with knew that no meeting or presentation would take precedence over something "the boys" had going on. I asked him once how he did it – how he raised two boys, alone, in New York City, while holding down a high-level, high-pressure job in an industry that required 24/7 engagement. "You never know what you can do," he said to me, "until your kids need it." So: are you a committed parent? Do you love your children unconditionally, whoever they are, whatever they do, whomever they love? Or do you put career first? Do you judge them the way your parents judged you? Are you cruel to them because you resent them? Are you one of those fashionable doomers of late who claim they would never bring a child into this horrible world, believing that your dime store pessimism actually masks your selfish nihilism? Because watching Craig with his sons made me want to be a father myself, and if you don't appreciate the importance and beauty of that role, then you should probably save us both a lot of time and fuck off.
4. Do you like Old Fashioneds?
Craig liked Old Fashioneds. It's not mandatory for the position, but it would be nice.
5. Are You a Dog Person?
Anyone applying for this Best Friendship must be a dog person. Craig loved dogs, and Cash, seen above, was the dog love of his life. Cash came over to our house many times. He puked in the car, trampled our flowers and shat on our lawn. He was a fucking god. Cash passed away a year of so ago, and doctors may scoff at this notion, but I think a big part of Craig died with him. If you have a problem with dogs, or pit bulls, or if you prefer cats, then you should probably save us both a lot of time and fuck off.
5. Are You a Frustrated Artist?
When we weren't talking about our sons, Craig and I discussed art. Not capital A Art, not Whitney Biennale Art, but real art – that strange by-product of life and pain and joy and sorrow, of laughter and anger and fear and hope, that the human mind insists be made. Craig was obsessed with space for some reason – he painted rockets and astronauts and planets, as if dreaming of some better place he could one day go to. I'm telling you right now, if you just thought, "Well, Shalom, he's in that better place now," you should probably save us both a lot of time and fuck off.
In fact, fuck it - the position is closed. Craig gave his sons a beautiful life, and he gave me 20 years of a beautiful friendship. There will be no replacement friend. The position will never be filled. There will be no other Craig. In time, I will realize that one Craig in a lifetime is much more than anyone can ask for, and much more than most people get.
Yours in the fetal position,
PS: Fuck God.