Mr. Mock was listening to the radio the other day, which he gets to do during the day because he works from home. He is therefore a good source of trivia. It is not unusual for him to say things like, “Michael Ignatieff’s great grandfather was Alexander III’s minister of the interior.”
“Heather Mallick is leaving the Globe,” he said the other day, over dinner. I choked on my spinach soup. I had not just walked in the door. He had not cornered me taking my boots off. He was not holding a consolation prize in the form of a tequila sunrise. He was not offering to rub my feet.
There was a long silence, which I think he relished. He was having one of those, “I know you so well that I realize you are about to burst into tears, but I am taking a slightly perverse kind of satisfaction in telling you this thing that is going to throw your world off its axis” kind of moments.
“What will I do?” I finally said, in what Mr. Mock likes to call my small voice. “To whom will I write my bi-annual fan letters? Who else is worthy?”
He smiled. “Well, you’d better write her once more while she still has a Globe and Mail address. Maybe you should start writing to Dar Williams.”
Who is left in my life to say things like, “I really must demand that writers bereft of context not be allowed to write treatises”?
Who will defend Margaret Atwood against the anti-feminist “my-cup-is-half-full” hordes by saying that “happiness is something you sneak into your handbag, like a pastry for later when you’re alone”?
Heather, you could always write about one thing in an entertaining way while simultaneously and sneakily writing about something else altogether. The only other person I know who can do this is Prince, and that was way back when he had girls in his band, before he became a Jehovah’s Witness and decided to start hating women.
And there you were, every Saturday, just there in the newspaper that gets deposited on my doorstep for at an annual cost that is lower than what I spend on groceries in a month.
You know the (five? ten?) stages of grief? Is there one called self-flagellation? Were my biannual fan letters not enough? Did I take you for granted?
“Maybe she just wants to write books or do something less deadline-driven,” said Mr. Mock, blowing on his spoonful of soup. “You know, maybe she doesn’t want to have, like, a public e-mail address anymore, so people like you who act like they own her will stop writing her.”
“Right,” I said, with false bravado. “She’s certainly on to bigger and better things.”
But then I became obsessed with why the Globe had not told us you were leaving. They say “Leah McLaren will return,” when Leah is on vacation. Like they think we care? Like we don’t already know that Leah will be back next week telling us all about how bored she was at the farm?
But they can’t say, “This is Heather Mallick’s final column”?
Anyway, it was a good run, Heather, thanks. I found you when I moved to Canada. I gave you to my writing students. I elevated you to “imaginary fairy godmother” status. I clipped your columns and sent them to my dad.
You should remember now that we’re all out of your hair, that there’s a pastry in your handbag. You were saving it for later.