One-Shot: Twisted Valentine
When the TV studio first contacted me about being in their Valentine’s Day segment, I hung up on them.
In fact, I hung up on them a lot.
I deleted their emails and blocked their calls and shredded their letters, right through from the middle of June until October. Then Bruce got really pissed and told me that I was being stupid, and to either do something about it or stop complaining. I realise he was probably thinking more along the lines of reporting them to the police for harassment – for which I would have had a legitimate case, I think – but instead I answered the call and told them I’d do it, I’d do it already if they’d just leave me alone. The low-level rep on the other end of the line told me that filming was starting in January and they’d send me a list of things I should try to bring along; pictures and letters and newspaper reports, things like that. Fine, I said. Just stop calling.
I was happy to take part. Somebody has to tell their story – it’s an amazing story. I love it. I like telling it. It’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard and it makes me feel special to have been a part of it.
Some upstart exec at the studio had the idea in the middle of the summer when they were planning their major holiday broadcasts for the following year, and for some reason it struck a chord with everyone else in the room because they pounced on it and started planning it straight away. They called me before any of the networks had even been approached about picking it up, because fifteen years ago it was one of the biggest, the most sensational love stories in the media and it the first one anybody thought of when it came to the theme of the program – tragic love stories.
They told me there’d be a bunch of kids telling once-famous stories about their parents; how they met, how they fell in love, and most importantly, how it ended. I guess the running theme for the show was going to be death, but I like to think it transcends that – I mean, love does. I like to think it’s all about how love lasts beyond death, and how death can’t even come close to polluting something so pure and amazing.
On the day we were to start recording, I arrived at the studio feeling awkward and out of place. Whatever these television people might think, a lot of people were still angry about what my parents had done, how selfish they’d been. Five years ago on the tenth anniversary of their deaths some current affairs program had done a brief segment on it and it was clear from the interviews they’d done that there was still a lot of hate out there for my mom and dad. Bruce said to take that anger and internalize it, mix it up with my own version of events until something resembling the reality was born and I could tell their story, fact for fact, in a way that would help people empathise with them.
I suggested that he was full of shit and he laughed and said maybe. But there are two sides at least to every story and it was time to tell mine.
Bruce is nearly always right about the emotional shit like that, so I shut my mouth and decided to take his advice.
I was pretty excited to get started. When I arrived at the studio and told the security guy at the desk who I was, he gave me an ID card and directed me to a holding room where I was to wait with all the other interviewees until I was called.