Saturday, March 3, 2012
The Todd Childs Post (Happiness Challenge Day 3)
If you're friends with me on Facebook, then you've probably already been introduced to Todd Childs through his brilliant and funny comments on my status updates or links. If you know Todd in real life, count yourself lucky. Todd is one of a dying breed, the Southern gentleman. He has class and good manners (he'll hold the door open for you and compliment your outfit), but he also has a wicked sense of humor. If you cross him, he's not afraid to say, "You, sir, are no lady!"
When Todd was hired at Southern Living, he moved into the cubicle next to me that had recently been vacated by the fabulous Julie Sandner. Julie and I used to laugh a lot during the work day and, while we chatted, we would look at each other in the reflection on the large wall of windows the cubes were tucked up against. We joked that we were like prisoners using mirrors to talk to the guy in the cell next door. I cried when Julie announced she was leaving the magazine.
Todd moved in and you could forget about looking at the reflection in the window. We somehow figured out you could pop out a panel between our cubes to create a pass-through. We joked that we were going to decorate it with cafe curtains, but we never did.
We would read excerpts from articles we were writing and solicit the other's opinion. It usually went like this: "Oh my God, I just wrote the most hilarious thing. Want to hear it?" We chatted about the news of the day. Often, Christopher Davis wandered down from the art department and tried out some of his stand up comedy on us. Sometimes he stole funny things I said and wrote them down in a tiny notebook. That is totally true. Don't let him lie and tell you it's not.
Todd is the sort of person with whom you can talk about the universe and how the hell it all works, about the possibility of aliens, about an episode of Hannah Montana. He can talk about the greatness of classic black-and-white movies and then go with you to see the remake of Footloose (and he'll drag Christopher Davis along too. Don't let Chris lie and tell you he didn't go and then totally dance his way out of the theater at the end). He can discuss literature with you and then immediately make a reference to that very special episode of Different Strokes when Dudley was molested by the bike shop owner. Poor Dudley. He can take you to the theater to see modern dance and then take you bowling, where he will bust out the lyrics to a certain song from Grease 2: The Shitty One With Michelle Pfeiffer.
I wrote about Todd in my memoir. Of course, I did. He's one of the numerous fantastic people in Birmingham who was there for me when August 3, 2009 happened. He was there that night. Picking up Stephanie and coming to get me. Making a run for Valium to help calm me down. The next day bringing me a TCBY vanilla yogurt topped with strawberries, hopeful that it would be the one thing I could stomach. (There I go, showing you my wound again, but it's important because I'm also showing you one of the people who helps me heal.)
I wrote this: Todd is known for grand adventures and nights out that turn into early mornings and maybe Stephanie thought they were about to embark on something fun. When men are laid off, they often seem to grow unkempt beards, but Todd had grown an extravagant mustache instead. It was not the kind on the law enforcement officials around me that night. It was a mustache you would find on a stately Southern gentleman, one who might wink and hand you a flask in a dry county.
The photo above was taken the day before all of that. It was one of the most fun Sundays in the history of Sundays.
When Todd and Chris were laid off from Southern Living, I went into the managing editor's office and said, "Clearly, no one here cares about my happiness."
But this is all just background. The memory I wanted to share is this one:
Several years ago, J. Crew came out with one of the most fantastic dresses I've ever seen. We talked about it at work. Maybe we'd both gotten the catalog or maybe it came to the office. I can't remember which. I expressed my love for the dress, but there was no way I was going to buy it. I have an annoying tendency never to indulge myself when it comes to fashion. If it's not on sale, I try not to even look at it.
Not long afterward, I came out of a meeting and found a package on the chair at my desk. The wrapping paper was the sort of gorgeous thick, recycled kind that doesn't come rolled on a cardboard tube. I think maybe it was tied with twine. Attached there was a hand-drawn card that said something wonderful and hilarious. It was February so there was a reference to Cupid and his sorry-ass aim. (I'd recently been asked on a date by a homeless man. Yes. Seriously.)
Inside the package was the dress. This dress:
I think I almost cried. I ran to the restroom to try it on. I can't remember what I said, but I hope I wrote my cubicle soul mate a really nice thank-you note. If I didn't, I hope this counts - for the dress and for so much more.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am excellent at choosing friends.
We like to take photos of our adventures. Thank goodness Stephanie always has her camera...
When we leap off a six-story high tower into the Georgia air.
When we hang out at the park and indulge our damn liberal hippie tendencies.
When we scratch mad beats with Christopher Davis.
When we hang out in restaurants.
When Stephanie acts weird in restaurants.
When we're posing for the album cover for the latest work from our band Little Debbie and the Devil Creme Cakes.
If you don't have a friend like Todd Childs, I hope you're blessed with one like him at least once in your lifetime.