15 Feb 1999
Hutch raced up the stairs to the VenicePlace apartment he shared with his partner, yanked open the door, dashed inside and slammed it shut, leaning against it as if to ward off demons. Gasping for breath, he just stood there, sweating, waiting for his heart to calm. He blinked moisture from his eyes only to find his partner-for-life-and-probably-beyond, comfortably ensconced on the couch, feet on the coffee table, reading Friday's Wall Street Journal.
Without looking up, Starsky muttered, "What took ya so long?"
Hutch just blinked. "Well...since you left early for a dental appointment, I had to grab a cab."
"Uh-huh," said Starsky, paying his lover's stress no mind. His nose was still buried in the paper.
"I-I-I ended up getting that cab with that-that-that...you know, that cabbie from the next neighborhood, that--"
"CrowRow," Starsky said matter-of-factly, still reading the paper. "Yeah. She's back in town. Good thing. We don't have nearly enough cabs in this neighborhood. She said she was lookin' for you."
Hutch nodded nervously. "Yeah, well, she found me. Picked me up at Parker. Somehow she knew about your dental appointment. Seems like everyone in this building knows everything we do before we even do it. I'm beginning to feel like our every move is filmed or something, that we're on some private cable station piped into every apartment."
Starsky peered over his paper, his expression a bit worried. "You're imagining things, Hutch. You're watchin' too much X-Files. The Head of Security herself checks out the place every month and makes sure everything's top notch."
"Yeah, well, I dunno. We've already got the weirdest lease agreement in the world. And I never did get time to look at the fine print. Every time I bring up the subject, you distract me with--"
"So, what did CrowRow have to say, anyway?" Starsky asked, going back to the paper.
Hutch shook a finger in Starsky's direction. "Starsk, that woman is strange. I'm telling you of all the weird ones in this building, and we've got a boatload of 'em, that one, that one is the strangest. She picks me up at Parker, and there's this giant white WOLF in the front seat riding beside her."
"Beside her?" Starsky said, only half-interested. "No RJHs?"
"Please don't mention them," Hutch said, shutting his eyes and shuddering. He'd only seen them once, but that was enough. "Anyway, the wolf turns in the seat and just grins at me the whole way home, looking at me like I was gonna be his next meal, and the whole way home, that crazy woman keeps talking to me about Elfen-berg, and panther spirits, and was your spirit animal a bear or a weasel--"
Starsky looked over the paper scowling. "CrowRow woulda never said my spirit animal was a weasel. You're makin' that part up."
Hutch threw up his hands, exasperated, "Who could make up stuff like this? She was making me crazy, insisting the wolf was my buddy, that he was gonna help me straighten out your pointy ears--"
Self-consciously, Starsky pulled his curls securely over his nice, normal, rounded ears.
"It was the cab ride from Hell, I'm telling you!"
"Nah, not Hell. Just the Twilight Zone. You worry too much, Hutch."
"I worry too much? I was nearly blond shish-ka-bob, and I worry too much. And what the hell are you doing reading the Wall Street Journal?"
"CrowRow gave it to me. She said there was a special article in here we'd like. About spirit animals. Or my spirit animal, anyway." He waggled his eyebrows and folded the paper around a specific article.
Hutch just groaned and covered his face with his hands. Had the whole world gone crazy all because of one lone cab driver?
"See, my spirit animal isn't a panther, or a wolf, or a bear, or a weasel, or even a flamingo, Hutch. Here's my spirit animal." Starsky grinned and showed him the article. There in all his glory was a picture of the world's greatest romantic -- Pepe LePew.
"Your spirit animal is a skunk?" Hutch said numbly, and thanked all the gods at Procter and Gamble for the special deodorant Starsky used.
"Not just any skunk," Starsky insisted indignantly, "but the most romantic skunk of all. Pepe LePew. Today's Valentine's Day, Hutch, and Pepe LePew is the patron skunk of lovers everywhere. He's my hero."
"Patron skunk?" Hutch repeated, dazedly.
"Uh-huh. Who'd you think I learned all my cool techniques from? I studied his every technique when I was a kid. Look, here in the paper it lists all his best stuff. Listen to this -- you want a line for an ICEBREAKER, try these:" And in his best Pepe LePew imitation, he advanced on Hutch, grabbed him one-armed in a crushing embrace, and quoted, "Permit me to introduce myself. I am Pepe LePew, your lover."
Hutch suddenly felt like the terrified cat that LePew was forever pursuing as Starsky's lunchtime pepperoni wafted over his face. But Starsky was undaunted in his rendition of LePew's famous lines of passion.
"Ah, my leetle much ado about somezing. [kiss, kiss] Ah, my leetle lost labor's love."
"Where are you, my leetle gumbo of chicken? Your French fried shrimp is sizzling for you!"
"You may call me Streetcar, because of my desire for you!"
"Where are you, my leetle objet d'art? I am going to collect you!"
Hutch nodded as Starsky puckered up, eyes shut. "I gotta admit, Starsk, that does sound like some of your more taxing attempts at seduction."
"You don't like that, how about these," said Starsky, his enthusiasm not cooling in the least. "How about some lines of SELF-AFFIRMATION! Like these: You know, eet eez possible to be too attractive! That's from the cartoon where Pepe was being chased by an amorous cat. Or how about, 'You know, most men would get discouraged by now....Fortunately for you, I am not most men.'"
"You can say that again, Starsk!"
"Ah, my darling, I love you. Where have I been all your life?"
"I'm not sure," Hutch insisted, "but the next time you go to the dentist, I'm going with you. Will you let me go?"
"Uh-uh, there's more. From the LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD series: 'I'll tell you what: You stop resisting me, and I'll stop resisting you."
"Starsk," Hutch interjected wearily.
"If you have not tried eet, do not knock eet!"
"You are zee corned beef to me, I am zee cab-baj to you. Zee cab-baj do not run away from zee corned beef!"
"If you don't unhand me, I'm gonna corn your beef!"
Reluctantly, Starsky stepped away from the blond, but he wasn't done with his argument. "Okay, how about this: DEEP THOUGHTS from Pepe LePew -- 'One nice thing eez, the game of love eez never called on account of darkness."
Hutch shook his head, but he couldn't hide the smile his lover always managed to coax out of him.
Taking that as encouragement, Starsky sidled closer. "Sometimes I ask myself, 'Eez eet really worth eet?' And I answer myself, 'YES!'"
He dropped the paper on the floor, grappled Hutch with both arms and swung him into a low dip. By now Hutch was outright laughing. "And this one, Hutch, this is my personal favorite:" he nuzzled the blond's throat, murmuring, "Les miew...les miew... Les rowr-rowr!"
Happy Valentine's Day VenicePlace!!
Special thanks to the Wall Street Journal, Feb 12, 1999 and a friend who sent it to me. Flamingo