Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Something I wrote a little while ago, have been working on. I like the personal essay format, ala Montagne because my mind tends to wander through things anyway, and it's a nice venue to make those random connections more meaningful:

A man seated next to me at the bar, while I wait for the new bartender struggling to get the credit card machine to process my tab, decides to strike up conversation. I’ve seen the man before—he may have been one of the 10:00 am regulars during my stint as the barkeep here—but we’ve never shared as much as a smile before this. I’m standing in front of his crutches, leaned against the wooden bar rail with their rubber stoppers a few inches too far into the walkway, begging for an incident. I suppose since I was hovering over his only means of getting around, he was justified in paying me some mind and finding out whether I was the type of person who would abscond with two lonely crutches.
Jim, as I was much later introduced to him, is a like a caricatured version of multiple movie characters. He is tall and portly, almost too much for one barstool. Long gray hair streaked with black, and a full beard pouring over his threadbare checked shirt give him the unmistakable and stereotypical ‘working class’ air. He still wears sunglasses, though it’s nearly 11:30 and the bar is kept dim for atmosphere, but that actually doesn’t strike me as anything odd. I have a memory of a camping trip with my family on which my father, sitting around the campfire as day faded to night, forgot that he had on his sunglasses and struggled getting from the campfire over to his tent until my sister and I laughed and told him to take off his shades. I’ve always loved how habitual items—a watch, sunglasses, or a certain necklace—items that we always have with us, are the first ones we misplace on our own bodies. It has nothing to do with memory loss, in these cases; rather some outside factor that made one go against their grain. I had to switch my watch to my left wrist once because of a burn I suffered under the band, and while wearing a long-sleeved shirt I panicked for nearly two hours that I had lost my new watch until I rolled my sleeves up. Jim’s sunglasses were likely as much a part of him as his crutches; one in essence and adding to the overall effect of his appearance. He looked very much like an aging Vietnam veteran as portrayed in some movies. Not quite ready to let the 70’s go.

And so on...

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