He called her Cookie, she called him Cake. For the nearly 10 years they spent together, famous comedian George Carlin and writer Sally Wade were endlessly in love. That, at least, is what the collected notes and letters that passed between them suggest in Wade’s visually inviting, glossy new volume The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship of Sally Wade. Carlin’s notes to Wade are frequently playful, sometimes goofy and profane, but quite often beautifully romantic. The enchantment ended in 2008, when Carlin died at age 71 of heart failure. Wade remembers him here in his own passionate words.
All those notes and letters, did he labor over them or write them effortlessly?
It was what he did best, I think. I mean, we both put as much creative energy into our relationship as we did into our careers if not more. We would write stories together every night. Our creativity matched as well as everything else, which just, you know, heightened the whole experience… He’s a poet, I think.
In addition to Cookie and Cake, you called yourselves the Jupiter twins. Why?
We believed we were sent here from Jupiter to explore the world together and spread our special charm – that was our mission – and then report back on whatever we discovered…We even created axioms – we called them Jupiterian axioms – whenever we had a disagreement. Such as “never argue during a circus,” or… rules to live by concerning our relationship: “Compliment and flatter Sally all day long.” That was one of my favorites.
Did you save everything, or were many notes and letters lost or tossed?
He saved everything, and we had what we called a Jupiter Box we put everything into. And someday we were going to turn it into a book for ourselves, but at this point it’s something I wanted to share with the world.
How did your courtship begin?
On the first date, he showed up with a toaster oven in one hand and a pair of socks in the other. It didn’t take him long to make up his mind about anything, ‘cause he’s lightning-fast. And I also think when you know, you know. You know? By the end of the first date, we were both using a hick accent. It was just obvious.
And, as the book suggests, are you still hearing from him?
I would say so. I mean, I don’t have any proof in writing, but there are very few other explanations for it, so I would say so – that we still communicate. Yes. And I don’t want to sound wacky or whatever, but, you know, I have clues, just like other people do from their loved ones.
You often hear that in private life comedians are very insecure and complex people. He doesn’t sound like that at all.
He had a positive ego that was always on his side, so he didn’t have all the insecurities and all that other nonsense. He really had a good image of himself. And when he learned to enjoy not being liked by half the population, his career took off. It was like a light-bulb moment, and most people don’t reach that point. They don’t fully accept and love themselves enough to make up for the people that don’t.
The book leaves a strong impression that you never got tired of talking to each other but didn’t particularly like company.
If we were around other people we enjoyed that as well, as long as it wasn’t at our house.
Why not at your house?
‘Cause then you have to tell them to go home. The other way, we get to leave. We were fine with that.
Is it true that you never married in a legal or church sense?
That’s true. We didn’t. It’s so hard to explain, because he would want me to call him husband, and he would want to call me his wife… So it’s hard for me to say that we weren't really married because in our minds we were and in his mind we definitely were.
What should people know about you?
That because I took a chance, I met my match, and we don’t always take that chance. And I’ve always been afraid of intimacy, but he made me feel safe. So it was just one of those moments in life that you regret if you don’t do it, yet you know you might get really hurt if you do.
And about George Carlin?
This book is a picture of him as a romantic guy, and that’s the true George. I mean, our relationship had room enough in it for our inner child, our inner parents, our inner mother and father and female and male. But the romantic George is the real one.
The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship of Sally Wade
Gallery Books / March 8, 2011 / 9781451607765 / $24.99