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Annotations Some Days in the Life - Daily
Touchstones
February 11, 2000


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There are guideposts to our lives. Little things that evoke responses, for good or ill. We recognize this. Songs on the CD player remind us of our past. I ran into this last night when I was listening to a Silly Wizard CD and Golden, Golden came on, reminding me of quiet evenings with a sweet natured blonde girl. You don't even want to know what the Narada Natural States CD reminds me of, but I doubt it's what the fine folks at Windham Hill intended. These sounds and sights are touchstones of our lives.

One touchstone that stuns me is the death of Margaret Ray, which happened back in October but I only learned about recently.

I'm sure you're sitting there right now, saying "who's Margaret Ray," and really, how can I blame you? Let me repeat the last sentence using her professional, celebrity name.

One touchstone that stuns me is the death of the lady stalker who used to break into David Letterman's house, which happened back in October but I only learned about recently.

You remember now, right? This was the lady who was found sleeping on Letterman's tennis courts. The one found in his Porsche who claimed to be his wife and the mother of a nonexistent child by him. The one who'd send him cookies. You remember the jokes. "All the best to Conan O'Brian as he takes over -- and just to make the transition smooth I sent his address to the lady who breaks into my house." "I'm moving -- oh, Paul, don't let me forget to make out change-of-address forms for the lady who breaks into my house." And so on.

Well, Letterman made a lot of jokes about Margaret Ray, but also did some things to try to help the delusional woman. Later, she stalked an astronaut and she ended up doing prison time for breaking and entering. She committed suicide by intentionally leaning into the path of an oncoming train when it was too close to stop.

So why do I care? This is a sad life destined to be forever remembered as a footnote in the annals of comedy, but I never knew her. I don't even watch David Letterman any more.

It comes from a joke, actually. One on Comedy Central, back in 1994 or so. It was a little song with cut out animation of Margaret and Letterman. The song was kind of catchy, with lyrics like My name is Mrs. David Letterman, and I took my medication like I was told, and Dave -- you and me, and Connecticut is where we'll be, and the like. They produced a few of these little comedy vignettes and songs right about then (including another one on the World Trade Center bombing and one on Joey Buttafuco and how sick we all were of hearing about him).

The reason this sticks out stems from a girl named Jennifer, who I was living with at the time. And who loved that song. Whenever it would start up (we watched a lot of Comedy Central) she would drop what she was doing, hop up and dance, while singing along. It was cute, the first two times she did it. Then it turned into one of those things you dreaded. She would sing it at other times too, clearly just enjoying it greatly.

The relationship didn't end well. In fact, it ended badly. I spent a good amount of time reminding myself that I essentially like women and enjoy romance following this relationship. I still am reminding myself of that, some days.

Margaret Ray is a touchstone for that song, and for Jennifer, and she's dead. I find myself wondering if Jennifer even noticed or cared. I find myself wondering where Jennifer is, and if she's all right or happy, and if she got the relationship thing right with someone else. I find myself remembering how annoying she could be, and how nice she could be.

A sad, deluded woman can be a touchstone to our own lives. I don't remember Margaret Ray. I don't know what she looks like. But her life and death are keys to a moment in time -- one where I made some mistakes, but I tried. I honestly tried. One where I think Jennifer tried. One where we both spent as much time resenting each other as we did liking each other.

I hope Margaret found whatever she was looking for.

I hope Jennifer found whatever would make her happy.

Me? I'm still looking.

I think I need to listen to Golden, Golden again. Or maybe Natural States.

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