Ashley defended me at a party. She was a photographer with an incredible Instagram following, so she had a unique perspective, a unique way of framing things. She came into my life as a stranger who spoke up against some craft beer types who were attacking me for being a community manager for Drivel Online. It wasn’t drivel that I promoted, it was a 140 character summary of drivel.
After a drink, we were alone. She sat down on an open bar stool, with her dress cascading to the ground around it. We compared Netflix queues, and then I opened my soul to this person I had just met: how it was hard to get drivel trending, let alone write it. She knew it took work to succeed in tweeting drivel. One must obsess over each hashtag and go through each character saving abbreviation with a fine tooth comb three or four times.
We hooked up that night. The sounds of her romance Spotify playlist wrapped around us like the American Flag on Sylvester Stallone at the end of Rocky IV. I whispered to her the top 10 trending topics in Chicago, Illinois, noting which were sponsored. She liked that.
As a community manager for Drivel.com, I had never actually written the content myself. But, with the energy from the night before I decided to open up my blog and save a quick draft and get Ashley’s take on it. She loaded it up on her phone and sat silently in front of me for several agonizing minutes. She finally looked up from her screen. “This is not just drivel” she exclaimed. “This is #drivel.”
That night we celebrated at our favorite socially conscious dive bar down the street and I told her that her smile was as bright as the flood lights overlooking a baseball diamond during a night game.
The next few weeks were amazing. I wasn’t just summarizing drivel; I was making it. Ashley too had a string of creative bursts. Her Etsy store was taking off and bloggers were taking notice. She had taken a picture of her coffee at brunch and ran it through every Instagram filter before removing each one and publishing it raw. Her “followers” were taken on a journey through each “filter” and encouraging others to “share” which filters they “saw.” Ashley had an uncanny ability to express ironic tone, even in a text message.
Having no prior experience, I submitted my newly written drivel to several print magazines for rejection before passing them to my editor at Drivel Online. At the same time, Ashley kept selling her work. Mostly to a candle maker in Portland with the username—WaxingPoetic86.
Unfortunately our love quickly grew cold, like someone dumping a glass of ice tea into the lap of a high school librarian.
This is what happened: we were away from each other for a couple of days and I needed to text her something important. My thumbs swiped effortlessly across the on-screen keyboard.
“I logged into Instagram and saw your new #nofilter series. I liked it” I texted.
At once I saw the three little dots I expected, letting me know she was thinking but not quite ready to respond.
“Which filters did you like the best?” She asked with a nervous tone.
“I liked that there was no filter” I sheepishly responded.
“You mean you saw the picture without a filter? Then all you saw was a picture of my coffee” she painfully explained.
“All I know is that I liked it. It looked like really good coffee.” I texted back.
I knew I wouldn’t be seeing her again after that. This couldn’t be blamed on drinking or autocorrect. She simply sent one last heart emoji in the morning to say goodbye.
I would have crossed the desert just to see her again, only I was at the beach, and the sadness was dripping out of me like applesauce in a spaghetti strainer.
Those were the last words on the final post for June on Drivel Online. I’m not sure what Ashley has been up to, but I’d like to think she received that post in an email blast and scrolled slowly past each word like a steamroller through peanut butter.
Thus concludes my attempt at a tribute to the great Steve Martin. Read his stuff, and then be nice to me when you realize just how much better he is.