On my way back from dinner, after speaking at UC-Sunnydale, I saw a blanket in the hallway. Figuring it was left there by a friendly stoner, or someone who shared my abysmal housekeeping skills, I didn't say anything. Until the blanket moved.
"You Savage?" the extremely pale figure under the blanket asked. It had been a while since I had been accosted by a stranger with an accent, and I have to say, I enjoyed it a little, but it would have been better if I could have seen what this bloke(Because, trust me, this was a bloke) looked like. He might have had the same thought, too, because he mumbled something about it being "dark enough now" and cast his bed covering aside. His face was scratched and I thought "Of course, he wants to talk to me. Don't they always?"
"Yes, I'm Dan Savage. How may I help you?" My mother would have been so proud. Grammatical, polite, and no risk of foreign cooties. I was so Midwestern I barely recognized myself.
He stood up, and despite his tough look, all-black-wardrobe and suspicious dark stains on his form-fitting black t-shirt, he looked embarrassed. You never know who the shy ones are. He looked at the blanket instead of at me and said "Sorry about that. I'd never been to this hotel before and got in the wrong sewer, and this hotel has too many sodding windows."
"I understand." I felt that I had finally boiled my job down to its simplest essence. People say crazy things to me and I just say I understand. Even when I don't.
"Just because I want my soul back doesn't mean I should catch on fire, right?"
"Look, dude," I said, at the same time I wondered which bro-tastic catalog that greeting wandered out of.
"I picked it myself."
"Look, Spike, there's nothing wrong with being flaming. Even if it displeases the other guys in your Billy Idol tribute band." And then I thought "Savage, you elitist dick," and felt like I should take a special interest, because I felt all that Catholic guilt combining away with the rubber chicken in the dining room, banding together to ensure me a sleepless night. Damn it.
"What is it?" I asked gently. "Bondage gone wrong? Because it takes time, sometimes."
"Haven't you been listening? I've been out in the bloody jungle, doing these stupid...exercises, trying to get my soul back, and then I find out that the prophecy I'd been reading didn't say "wild" after all, but "Savage" and all I get from you is a lot of bollocks."
"You sound like my editor," I said, trying to make him smile.
"Are you very stoned?"