|have you ever seen an idealist with grey hairs on his head?
||[May. 27th, 2010|11:59 pm]
|||||hum of the electric air||]|
The trees outside are still, waiting. Located in an isolated part of a busy college town, the cafe is more quiet than usual.
The only customer, a man named Gary sits drinking his usual double espresso and reading about sustainability in modern culture.
We talk about gardening, the weather, our teeth, and gossip about other regulars. Despite having downed the mega-dose of caffeine
only minutes earlier, Gary is starting to doze off. This is typical.
Howard dropped by earlier to deliver a cookie and show me his new phone. Howard got out of the hospital two months ago. He had a stroke.
He is 79 years old and has been everywhere from Iceland to the Polynesian Islands. Back in the day he used to be a ladies man. I've seen
pictures. He talked about how the universe is all about supply and demand. If you demand something, the universe will in a way supply it for you,
though not always in the way you'd imagined. He told me about how he made himself have a stroke. Now, he says, he'll think twice about fighting
with his daughter on the telephone.
A man comes in and asks for a manager. I know what this is about, but I play dumb. "The manager isn't in."
Well, I need to talk to the owner, my car got towed. "I can't give away his information, I can only give you the business telephone number."
Well, I NEED TO FUCKING TALK TO SOMEBODY! "Sir, there's no reason to use that language. The number to get your car back is posted
underneath the 'PERMIT ONLY PARKING' sign. Call it, and they will let you know how to get your car back."
He walked away, muttering obscenities under his breath.
Torrential downpour. It's been raining for almost 24 hours straight. The usual Thursday crowd is here. Four men, fresh into retirement, moved
here from Illinois about four years ago. They tell me to follow my dreams, whatever that means. When I still smoked they would list off all the reasons
why I shouldn't, which kind of got on my nerves, but they meant well. The trees outside are threatening to pummel themselves into the front
windows. Part of me wishes they would. Cut to nine o' clock. The shop is closed up, I'm underneath an umbrella waiting for my ride.
Rain is a surreal thing to experience in the desert. The news says there is chance of a tornado.
Phone rings. "The roads are scary, and I don't have gas. Is there anyone else who could get you?" No, I have tried calling everyone (which I
hadn't.) "Well, maybe I can meet you halfway." No, it's fine, I will walk home. I'll call you if something terrible
happens. Click. At that moment, my umbrella flipped inside-out. Maybe it was the universe telling me to chill the fuck out. I fixed the umbrella
and started walking the mile home. Passing drunks on bus benches and rowdy frat boys yelling about how drunk they were, I picked up the pace.
Thinking about how ridiculous this situation was, I started to laugh. Looking out, the raindrops looked like they were dancing. Images of Gene
Kelly popped into my head, "I'm siiiiiiiiingin' in the raaaaaaiiiin, just siiiiiiingin' in the raaaaaiiiiiin."
Five minutes away from home, I stop by the convenience store to pick up a six pack and to see what the graveyard shift worker is listening
to. His name is Martelli. He looks about 29, soft spoken, glasses, hair combed but somehow still looking disheveled. Sometimes he listens to
classical, sometimes it's chamber pop. I get the feeling that he goes home to a cat and a bowl of soup every night. Walking up to the counter,
"Rustles of Spring" is playing faintly in the background. My mother always used to play that song on Sundays. "Will this be all for you?" Yes
please. "$9.24, would you like a receipt?" No, thanks. Have a good night.
The days are starting to blur. My mother called this morning to talk about her garden, the weather, etc. When I was little, she wouldn't let me or
my brothers and sisters watch The Smurfs because she thought Gargamel was Satanic. I guess in a way I understand. You can never be too
careful, most especially when Satan could be jumping out of your TV screen at any moment. I used to resent her idiosyncracies, but now I realize that if
she hadn't been so goddamn weird, I wouldn't have turned out the way that I am.
My mother lives for game shows. She was on Password in 1975, and if you ever come to Thanksgiving at our house you will hear about how
the $1,000 she won paid for my sister to be born. Game Show Network is on constant rotation. My mother sits every day, watching re-runs,
secretly hoping that one day her episode will be on and she will get to re-live the glory. This has been going on for over 6 years. Still nothing.
"We haven't heard from you in two weeks!" I'm sorry, I've been busy. "Doing what?" Oh , you know. Nothing exciting. "Well, your
father and I love you very much." Look Mom, I got a customer, can I call you later?
A man walks up to the counter. "How much does it cost to use your computers?" Four dollars every half an hour. I need your ID, you pay
afterward. Shaking, the man hands me his ID. "You're all set on the third computer from the front." He walks over and sets his
things down. My boss and his daughter come in. "Look, I'm going to run some errands, can you keep and eye on her?" Sure, anything for you
man. Sarcasm has always been a good friend of mine.
My bosses daughter is 13 going on 5. She is kind of like a raccoon in that if she sees something sparkly or fluffy she can't concentrate on
anything. She sat down at a computer and zoned out. About five minutes later she comes up to the counter to tell me the shaky man is looking at
porn. This is routine.
Excuse me sir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave. "Why?" (as we're both staring at a screen with tons of pictures of people in various sexual positions) Well,
that, and that, and that, and most especially THAT.