Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Simon Girard (1979-2015)

When I found out Simon killed himself, my face and hands and legs started to shake. I sat down, laughed for a second or two, and then wondered if what I felt was relief. And I thought, “Fuck, Simon. Alcoholic writer kills himself. Could you not have thought of anything more original?”
Simon Girard (1979-2015)
35 years old
This is the first time anyone I’ve fucked has died. It makes for quite the head trip, and I feel very odd.

In the beginning, I was supposed to help Simon translate his book about squirrels and homeless people into English. The first time I visited his apartment, I spent two hours teaching myself how to hula hoop. I invited Simon to the Granola Party I was having that Saturday. At Granola parties, you eat granola, take a quiz about what sort of cereal personality you are and then maybe share some performance art related to this discovery. Simon was concerned that he didn’t have anything to bring to the party because he was really broke. I said to come anyways. He arrived at my door with the hula hoop as his contribution.
As it turns out, granola is not the best buffer for vodka and I didn’t have an excellent alcohol tolerance to begin with. Since my boundaries were not that excellent either, Simon and I ended up naked on the blue biodegradable yoga mat in the spare bedroom. While I was drunk at the granola party, I told Simon that we should write a book of letters together. It could be bilingual. He could write in French, and I’d write back in English.

Within three days, Simon had started the book with a letter about how I’d ejaculated on his face on the blue biodegradable yoga mat. The letter ended with a relatively terrible poem that compared my vagina to a tornado, my phosphorescent ass cheeks to crescent moons and concluded with my tornado vagina making him “wet like the morning.”

I couldn’t remember ejaculating and in the following letter I claimed it didn’t count because I was so drunk. Simon said that it had to count or else he would have to erase all his writing from the last fifteen years.

When I met Simon, he had already published two books. “Dawson Kid,” his first published book was the ninth novel he’d ever finished. It was about a nude dancer named Rose Bourassa who takes up boxing. The day I went to visit him and learned how to houla hoop, Simon gave me a copy of his second novel “Tuer Lamarre.” He signed it and wrote a little note about how we never know what will happen next. Tuer Lamarre was the story of a young child who got molested by her neighbour. It was way too depressing and I didn’t get very far on it. Simon said he didn’t blame me and not to bother persevering. I think maybe Dawson Kid is a better read. He has other books now too.

Me and Simon’s book was called “The Little Savage and the Hermit.” I was the little savage because I threw reckless granola parties and Simon was the hermit because he spent most of his days drinking, writing and running up and down the stairs of his apartment building on Sherbrooke Street.

The process of writing “The Little Savage and the Hermit” involved a great deal of fighting, drunk sex, name calling and vomit. But it was the first time in my life that I felt like a real writer. I got to write whatever I wanted, however I wanted. Although Simon called me a stupid fucking cunt several times, he was a sincere and unapologetic fan of my writing. This made up for something.

The last time I saw Simon we were “working on our book.” “Working on our book” was usually a euphemism for drinking rather early in the day, fighting about commas or other mundane issues, getting drunk, and then having reckless, oblivious sex. We did this for months after we’d broken up. “Never again,” I’d say to myself each time I’d wake up in the morning, a couple of times with vomit on my pillow.

I think I finally cut myself off around May 2011.  A couple of weeks into June, I went to a wedding where I met the Boatman. Now there was definitely no more black-out sex allowed. But Simon and I still had to finish the book.

One morning in July, I went to his apartment at 11:30 a.m. I was sort of wearing a hot dress because I had just had an interview for some contract. At 11:38, Simon started making a White Russian.

“I want one too,” I said.

“Only if you take off your bra.”

“Not fair,” I said. He shook his head and brought his drink to the computer. I took it and stole a sip. Then he slid his hand under the neck of my dress and started pulling at my bra straps.

“I’m leaving,” I said.

I marched out. When I got to my bike, I realized I’d forgotten my seat. Simon took forever to buzz me back in. When I finally got back up to his apartment he was lying naked on his mattress on the floor. The bike seat was draped over his erection. On the top of his right thigh next to his groin, he had a really weird red, blue and green face sort of tattoo that looked a little bit like a clown. His dick was hard as wood. I grabbed the bike seat and left.

Simon’s funeral is next Saturday just outside of Montreal. I don’t think I will go.

Probably Simon would prefer that the last time I saw him, he was lying naked on his bed with a hard-as-wood erection, instead of dead in a coffin.

I moved to Halifax and over email, Simon and I wrote Part Two and Three of the Little Savage and the Hermit. We never revised either part and they are both a bit embarrassing. Part One is a bit embarrassing too, though it was almost going to be published at one point. Oh well. I might be able to find something to salvage.

My days with Simon make me think of that Machiavelli quote, “man should either be caressed or else crushed.” Anything in between and the person you injure will be driven to seek revenge. Over and over again, Simon and I went back and forth between caressing and crushing each other. Our reasons to retaliate ran out a long time ago.

“I forgive you, I’m sorry, I love you, I thank you.” Simon heard about this somewhere, and in our third book, he wrote to me to say he’d been repeating it over and over again, addressing his own ego and the people around him. “For the last week, I’ve been feeling a state of peace I’ve never known,” he said. “And I also feel dead. It’s fantastic.” Unfortunately, most of Simon’s fantastic remedies were short lived. The one thing Simon did remain entirely committed to was writing. Writing was his ultimate redemption. He always said that if you could write something good, it would make up for all the shittiest, dead-inside moments of existence. But for him, even  the writing process was laced with copious amounts of alcohol and self-destruction. I've been re-reading his letters, and his subjects mainly range from wild and compulsive sexual adventures to futility, death and way too much alcohol. Behind his exuberant, over-the-top persona, and his compulsion to find something to laugh about everything, Simon was profoundly depressed. He made tons of jokes about the two times he almost jumped off Jacques-Cartier Bridge in his twenties. Over the past decade, I imagine that he walked through many days, bewildered at the fact that he wasn’t yet dead.
Simon used to say that on his tombstone, he wanted the words, "HEYYYYYYYY! I'M NOT REALLY DEAD!" or else, "Monday morning...  the hell with it, I'm not getting up."

“I forgive you, I’m sorry, I love you, I thank you.” Last week I googled, “My ex killed himself. What should I do?” On one of the forums, some woman wrote, “He came into your life for a reason.” Then there was something about finding meaning in the whole ordeal. Although there’s a reason everything happens, I’m not a big fan of “everything happens for a reason” discourse. I don’t think Simon was either. He attributed not killing himself  those other two times to a couple of chance fluctuations of his mind.
That said, whether or not you write books with them, and whether or not they kill themselves, all of your exes leave you something you’ll keep forever. Simon and I were dicks to each other. Probably we were the worst combination in the world. But that was me and Simon. The Little Savage and the Hermit. “Classic shitty relationship, carried out by geniuses.”

The book is done.

The hermit’s dead.

Dear Simon,
I forgive you, I’m sorry, I love you, I thank you.
And I wish you were still around.
Love, Erica.

The End.

My deepest sympathies to his friends, loved ones, family and parents.

Simon's Obituary and funeral details

In Simon's memory, the family would appreciate donations made to Centre de prevention de suicide de Haut-Richelieu (Haut-Richelieu Suicide Prevention Centre)

Simon's Books:

Dawson Kid (Boréal, 2007)
Tuer Lamarre (Leméac, 2009)
Michel Bourget, sauver les vies (400 coups, 2011)
Les Écureuils sont des sans-abris (Coups de tête, 2011)

Article from La Presse: Écrire à tout prix (La Presse, 2012)

"Je vole vers l'astre qui est encore tout éteint et m'attend pour s'enflammer." (Simon)

Simon Says
The Granola Party Cereal Personality Quiz
What a Beautiful Face



  1. A touching story, thanks for sharing.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Simon was my best friend, and he spoke to me about your collaboration to write this letters-book. He found it brilliant. It's nice that I was able to put a face on the one he mentioned so often. Thank you for writing this, it is true to how he was: a bold guy, who said it like it is. I too, wish he was still around... . Will you publish the book? I would really like to have a copy if possible.

  4. Simon was my best friend. He mentioned you when talking about his upcoming English book about lover's letters. He thought it was brilliant. It was a project he really cherished. He was a hell of a guy, and I, like you, wish he were still here... .
    Will you publish the book? He seemed to think it was pretty awesome. You say ''embarrassing'' but hey, that's how Simon wrote...nothing was dull, everything was full of emotion, intense, and colorful. As my friend, he was the same. If you do publish the book, please let me know. I would deeply love to read it, as I too, wish he were still here. I miss him dearly.
    Thank you for writing this, it revives him in some way. Thank you for paying tribute... .

    1. Hi Marc. Thank you for your comment. Simon and I hardly had any mutual friends so it is nice to hear from someone who knew him. Truly, nothing about Simon was dull... I will see about the book. Have been thinking about that quite a bit recently. He has left me with tons of material. Maybe I will turn it into a bigger project. We were both better at writing in our native languages and looking over the English translations, I'm not sure they do him justice. Perhaps it can stay bilingual as I originally envisioned... Anyways, I really appreciate your comment. Best wishes.