Guest blogging: a brilliant idea! Here’s something fantastic I didn’t write at all. Most of you know (or are familiar with the hilarious rantings of) Steve Safran. Though a self-proclaimed curmudgeon, he’s really more of a teddy bear… a grumpy, Jewish teddy bear. Must learn lyrics to “A Little Bit of Soul” as only a small payment for the giggly diversion Steve provided me (and all of us). Enjoy this dose of Stevie Medicine: read, laugh, repeat.

Laughter is the Best Way to Get Sick People Mad at You… by Steve Safran
When Britt first told us out she had cancer, like everyone I was stunned, angry, shocked and sad. Also: thirsty and a little cranky. The trouble is I’m a bit of a wiseass. And I work in news, so I deal with horrid situations through gallows humor. There’s a lot of stress when you report on sad stories every day. But I can’t blame my career entirely. I am, after all, me. Lots of people will vouch for that.

Britt notified us, the Trinity Friends, via Facebook, on December 17, 2011. This meant that my usual afternoon of Photoshopping dirty pictures was suddenly and rudely interrupted. There’s something incongruous about getting bad news via Facebook. It’s like getting a singing Peanuts Hallmark card offering deepest condolences. (“Good Grief” would, in fact, be somewhat appropriate.) Some conversation ensued, with me confusingly offering to run something in pink or do something to raise something or other. Fortunately, good friend and actual runner Deb Gammons stepped up to the plate to get my 10K and half-marathon facts straight. This was a relief, and was the last time I was required to do math in the name of science. I have since learned a 10K is not a retirement fund for those on a budget.

The absurdity of Britt’s Facebook notice is that it came about an hour before I was to inform the same crowd that I had moved out of the family home en route to divorcing my wife of 18 years. Alas, my lead was buried, confined to the back pages of the “News & Notes” section of the crappy Metro section. I was incensed:

Well, shit. I was planning on telling you all how my wife and I separated this week, how I moved out and how I’m living alone in Wayland now. I was going to get all sorts of womanly sympathy and, quite possibly, cash and gifts. But forget it now. Way to put things in perspective.

Still, I had to dig down deep, as friends do:

Brittle, I will do whatever you need. I will sit with you while you get that horrid chemo shit, smoke cigars and tell you dirty jokes. They say, “laughter is the best medicine.” That’s bullshit. Get the medicine. I’m witty, but I’m not a cure for anything other than excess happiness.

Confession: I was hurt nobody was offering me a Hermes scarf.

Moving from Facebook, Britt wisely opened her world to her caring friends and family through the use of the inspiring and moving CarePages. This is a wonderful and, well, caring way patients can connect. The problem, of course, is that I have a mentality that hears “Care Pages” and automatically reacts inappropriately. I absolutely believe Britt would have had the same reaction to a CarePage set up for me. As Britt has quoted me on my reply, I have no problem stealing from her stealing from me:

Here are several problems I have with this:

1. It being “Care Pages” makes me feel I need to be sincere. As you know, this is a character defect of mine.
2. There will be caring, loving statements on this page.
3. While I care and love, I express those emotions in somewhat different ways. As in a total lack of caring and loving.
4, Those who care and love are bound to see my statements and feel I am wishing terrible things upon you.
5. I am not. I am wishing terrible things upon most non-Jews, but not you, a TOTAL Shiksa Goddess.

This, I am told, was received in both the spirit it was intended (“great love and sympathy”) and the spirit in which it is written (“heartless bastard”). As a journalist, I have come to accept both, preferring the latter as I am part of the great left-wing-conservative-liberal-tea-party-lamestream media conspiracy. (Hint: We just want free beer.)

After a few of Britt’s remarkable, charming and deeply touching CarePages, I was hooked. Still, as a newsman and consultant, I thought it might help to offer some advice so she could grow her base:

March 10, 2012:

Dear Britt:

I am enjoying your regular Care Pages updates. As a longtime newsman, I recommend you add horoscopes, Soduku and, perhaps, “Ziggy.” This would expand your appeal and open you to a wider, more sophisticated audience.

Steve Safran
Natick, MA

I am a creature of social media. Ostensibly, it is my job to teach journalists how to use it. It’s a crime, of course, to be paid to stand in front of a room of people and say “Tweet!” But this is America, and people have made far more money off far worse advice. Britt and I stayed in touch via Facebook.

Our Girl has made a comeback. While this is something of a slowdown for my borderline-offensive patter, it is nonetheless a tremendous relief. You see, I come back to that first Facebook note I wrote Britt on The December Night, where I showed the briefest glimpse of the man I might be:

Stay witty and upbeat. You don’t really have a choice but to heal; I have you on the list of people who will be singing at my funeral. The selection has to be “A Little Bit of Soul” by Music Explosion. This is not optional, and neither is your attendance.

Can’t wait to have you there.

Britt and Steve: wearing black… and sharing gallows humor.

15 responses

  1. A guest blogger – so cutting edge. Perhaps I should offer my services as a guest copy editor, so that future writers here can “bury the lede” the way the Queen intended.

      • Since editing is what’s happening here, I feel the need to grab my red pen & fix something. Steve, if you are, “wearing more ribbons than you,” that implies that you are wearing more ribbons than you are wearing Ran Bartons. Since that would be a shit load of ribbons, you are not only be more sensitive but also more injured than Ran is. Just saying, , ,

  2. So enjoyable; you are blessed to have Steve’s friendship and love. Looking forward to future guest appearances from your “grumpy Jewish teddy bear” friend! As the Comeback Girl you gift us with these e-visits. Much appreciated. Much love to you and yours.

  3. As one of the many school friends who have enjoyed Steve’s “wit” since kindergarten, I would like to thank you for inviting him to post on your blog. We’re all so pleased, in fact, that we’ve decided to let you keep him. No, no, it’s our pleasure. Really.

  4. Pingback: Steve Gets Cancer… by Steve Safran | Blooms and Bubbles

  5. Pingback: I got cancer… and fat! By Steve Safran | Blooms and Bubbles

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