Claire Danes is my best friend.  We met in a Manhattan coffee shop in the late 90s, back when she only dressed in her characteristic rain slickers. I asked if she was using this chair and she said I’m Claire Danes. That’s how we became best friends. Now we drink café con carnes every Sunday at a post-punk coffeehouse in Logan Square. These days, she only wears her characteristic Peruvian fair-trade sweaters. We’re inseparable. Everywhere I go, Claire Danes is there. When I drop off my dry-cleaning at the Laundry Express, she’s behind the counter pressing white starched shirts and talking on the phone. When I take the CTA down to Hyde Park, she’s always the conductor of the train, making the dark blue CTA uniform sparkle with her characteristic fashion sense, wind whipping through her hair as she leans out the train window to announce, “Brown line train on the outside track!” I never have asked Claire Danes how she gets all THE COOLEST jobs, but I think if I did, she would just shrug and respond, I’m Claire Danes. She’s like that, you know, Claire Danes.

            Claire Danes is a star of movies, television, theater, books, magazines, blogs, tweets, and bus stops. You may know her as the current star of Showtime’s “Homeland”, or if you’re like me, you may just know her as your best friend and tax accountant. Claire Danes is really mathematically inclined and brings her characteristic accounting skills to the table when she does my taxes at H&R block. She is also a savvy business woman (or dare I say businesswoman?). For example, did you know that Claire Danes owns and operates an Outback Steakhouse franchise on the outskirts of Chicago that is frequented by alcoholic businessmen on their way to the airport? I imagine you did not, IN FACT, know that, but I’m happy to share fun tidbits from my privileged position as Claire Danes’ best friend.

            Last winter, I was going through a deep depression. I felt unhinged and had trouble sleeping, or eating pizza at Demo’s, or not crying in line at Jewel, or drunk driving. I began to hear things. I felt dissociated from my body, living in a complete, vacuous non-reality that I knew would just continue forever until death ultimately rendered its harsh judgment upon my fragile existence. All of my other friends who are not Claire Danes tried to cheer me up, but it is difficult to relate to other people, since they are, after all, a meaningless sack of chemicals thrust into existence by the accident of birth. I guess the most I can say is that it was REAL WEIRD.

            One night, that winter, I heard noises coming from the insulated crawlspace in my attic. I put on my night-robe and armed myself with a decorative lamp as a blunt bludgeoning tool. They sounded like animal noises, and I slowly pulled down the retractable staircase to get into the attic. The noises were getting louder and louder and sounded like gnawing yelps with the cracking of bones.

            “Hello?” I said. It was dark as I walked back toward the crawlspace and the attic smelled musty like wet plywood. I pulled myself over some insulated conduit piping and crawled back into the crawlspace to find the source of the soul-sickening gnashing. I could see there was a dim light around the corner, that flickered like a gas flame or candle, and the noises were coming from there. The pink fiberglass insulation made my skin itch horribly, but I slowly crawled forward.

            “Hello?” I said. I was almost about to round the corner, the noises reaching a ligament-tearing, snarling, awful crescendo, when I peeked my head over and it was Claire Danes eating BBQ chicken wings. “Oh it’s just you Claire Danes. You must have come to my attic crawlspace to eat BBQ chicken wings in your characteristic style.” She told me she was Claire Danes and that put me at ease. It was then that I ate some BBQ chicken wings in my attic crawlspace with Claire Danes by the light of a dim gas lamp. Claire Danes knows just how to make me feel better about myself, and her chicken wings are DELICIOUS. She really is the best friend in the world.

            Some people would be pretty incredulous that Claire Danes is my best friend. I try not to pay any attention, because I know she is and I see her everywhere. I tell her that some people don’t believe me and we just laugh over our café con carnes. Someday people will realize that Claire Danes is what you make of her.

Matt Hope is a writer, performer, and scientist living in Lakeview, Chicago. He welcomes feedback on his work– adulation can be sent to actual.matt.hope@realemailaddresses.com, while criticism will be accepted at OtherMattHope@thisaddressisrealtoo.com.

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