They asked me: “If you could go back in history to affect change in one major way, what would you do?” I said: “Force Andy Warhol to get gallbladder surgery sooner.” Everyone in the room looks at me like I’m some sort of monster as I bite gleefully into a tortilla chip I’ve saddled with a healthy portion of guacamole. I mean, I guess I know it’s 2018 and all, and maybe I should say something less vacuous like, “Make Mary Anne MacLeod get an abortion before giving birth to Satan a.k.a. our current president,” but I just wanted to be candid. No holds barred. I truly feel Warhol could have given us more art (even if he already did get that so-called second chance to do so because of the Italian-American hero named Giuseppe Rossi that operated on him post Solanas-shooting), especially with the changing landscape of filmmaking in the 90s (though it might have been treading dangerous territory for him to flirt with distribution by Miramax–Harvey likely would have tried to sexually assault one of Warhol’s latest trans superstars–but hey, at least that would add more diversity to the #MeToo movement). I also think he would have relished living through the advent of social media, the summation of his prophecy about everyone having fifteen minutes of fame. Except, in their minds, that fifteen minutes is all day, every day and actually no one cares about their avocado toast or middle class vacation.
In any case, I didn’t think my response was in such poor taste that it would warrant me being ushered out of the party. And since there are so few parties anymore being thrown in New York–let alone parties that offer appetizers and beverages–I was rather upset about the affront. It was the host herself, Betty Ann Bellinger–the name alone was enough to make a person cringe–who had personally taken me by the arm and whispered, “I think you’ve had too much to drink and that maybe we ought to call you an Uber or whatever jank app you’re using these days.” I had somehow become synonymous with using inferior car service apps because one time–one time–a driver for the since defunct Spacejet ended up taking me and a friend to an address in East New York and she was so horrified by being deposited in the wrong place at the wrong time of night that she told our entire friend group about it. My god, thin white girls can be so skittish and lily-livered. Needless to say, she spread the story like chlamydia and my reputation for being “reliable” among those we knew became even further tarnished. I don’t even know why I still associate with people from college anyway. It’s just like, you go down a certain path, things get comfortable–or “easy”–and you just continue to go with it. Looking at all their rotely slack-jawed faces as each one of them nonverbally expressed contempt for my response, I could see I had tried to remain in this circle for too long.
I was too colorful for such beige people. It’s like I was the Ultra Violet and they were the Ultra Violet after she converted to Mormonism. I didn’t need this fucking shit. Maybe my reply had sounded a bit jarring after such fake claims as, “I would go back and warn JFK about the shooter” or “I would isolate the exact moment zoonosis occurred between human and primate to prevent the AIDS epidemic.” Oh shut the fuck up, all of you, I wanted to scream. But I suppose my alternate utterance served the same purpose in getting them all to pipe down with their faux caring about their fellow man. They couldn’t even be bothered to at least go more esoteric with their selections. Jesus. Like maybe going back to throw a can of Tab at Jeff Gillooly’s head when he asked out Tonya Harding for the first time, or maybe bludgeon him with a police baton. I don’t know–something just a little more creative and pop culturally attuned. But no, everyone’s got to be political now. No “frivolousness.” Heaven forbid we acknowledge just how frivolous we all actually are. Of course not–the current climate gives us all a “cause,” to believe we’ve got a viable scapegoat for ourselves. To justify that it is not we who encompass the problem, but those who “control” us.
And just as I was being heaved out the door by Betty Ann, Andy, gallbladder in tow, appeared in the hallway. The door shut in my face with an excessive amount of gusto and as I looked down at my black dress, I noticed a smudge of guacamole on the bodice. He was definitely looking worse for the wear, but apparently so was I with this stain–the mark of some kind of obese person that couldn’t restrain herself in front of food.
“What are you doing here?”
Andy shrugged. “You seem to have some misinformation about me, Tara.”
I glared at him. “How do you know my name?”
“I know the names of every girl in New York with a family worth more than a million dollars.”
I rolled my eyes. “What do you want then? Financing for your beyond the grave projects?”
Andy tittered. “I wish. But no.” Then he kept, like, thrusting his gallbladder in my direction.
“Why do you keep putting that thing near me? I don’t want it.”
“You told those people in there that if you could–”
“I know what I fucking said, okay? I’m not so high that I can’t remember five minutes ago.”
Andy emitted that obnoxious non-laugh of his again. “Tara, I just want to tell you…” I looked up at the ceiling for a moment before drowning him out and heading to the elevator.
By the time we had exited fully from the building, he had gotten into this whole long thing about how there was nothing anyone could have done at that point in his life to prevent gallbladder surgery from being a total fail. Even if he had gotten the procedure done earlier in the decade, because of that dowdy Valerie Solanas shooting him and his family history of gallbladder problems, he was already predisposed to being fucked.
But shit, death by “routine surgery,” as the headlines originally declared. It just seems like such a pussy way to go out. Then again, maybe the death did fit the man. They say the way you leave this life reflects how you lived it. So, on second thought, fine, I renege my original answer. If I could go back in time, I would go back to the moment when I said, “Force Andy Warhol to get gallbladder surgery sooner,” so he wouldn’t still be fucking yammering on to me on the sidewalk about how he could do a much better version of the “Protect Yo Heart” graffito on the cement block I stood upon. And I guess, rightfully, in New York City 2018, Warhol has more confidence than ever in his artistic ability, even if he is holding his small bile-filled organ like an IV catheter. The act of which I guess he’s turning into an interactive performance piece tomorrow. The location is still undisclosed. And I’m pretty sure I’ll see “Protect Yo Gallbladder” on the sidewalk everywhere by next week.