Thursday, September 7, 2023

Day and Night


 Mr. Tree rang me up after I wrote yesterday's post.  

"No one has called me for days.  I have no work.  What's going on?  Do you know?  Is the stock market down?"

"You're asking the wrong fellow about the stock market, pal, or money in general.  Nobody is calling you because you are a Malaysian Pirate.  You charge too much.  And you only call when you need money."

"Listen, I'm going to bring you a box of Cuban cigars, OK?"

After that, Q called.  

"Are you driving?" I asked.  


"Fuck you.  I shouldn't have answered."

"Why?  You complain on your blog all the time that nobody calls you."

"You're full of shit.  You can't read.  I complain that I don't have my own true love." 

"Well, you complain about a lot of things.  You need to go somewhere.  Just get on a plane and go to New York."

"Yea, I should be there this weekend.  That great photography show is going on."

"There are plenty of other reasons to go to New York."

"Oh, yea. . . there is that great little shop on the corner."


"You know the one?  The Best Falafel in the World.  I actually ate there once.  I agreed."

"Just go." 

"Jesus.  It isn't the airfare.  Hotel prices jumped drastically after Labor Day."  


Later, he said he was going to be in the city all day for work, and that night they were all going to dinner.  

"Don't talk," I said.  "Nothing more than 'yes' or 'no.' If you do, you'll say something that will make them laugh, and that will just encourage you, and the next thing you know, you will be telling some hideous story you think is funny but it only makes everyone look down into their napkins.  Don't talk.  I mean it.  Just smile and nod.  People will like that." 



* * *

I do complain and whine a lot. I just don't want you to think I am happy.  I am very self deprecating, too, except for when I am mythologizing.  You don't believe any of this, do you?  You know this isn't a factual report, right?  I may have lied when I said you could get to know me if you read the blog.  I remember a prof telling his class, "Your job is not to understand me.  My wife doesn't understand me, and she loves me."  

"But you're too hard on yourself.  You need to let up a bit.  People will believe you.  You don't have to proudly display all your flaws.  You exaggerate."

Heard that. . . many times.  But can you imagine if I just paraded other people's warts?  Oh, by God, then you'd hate me.  Or. . . I'd be president.  

So. . . let me tell you.  I'm giving it the old college try.  Does that make sense anymore?  Do people still say such a thing?  

The term give it the old college try was quoted in Babe Ruth's book in the 1920s, and the phrase entered the American language to mean any heroic attempt to achieve something, especially something with a high risk of failure.

 Does anyone even know who Babe Ruth is?  I mean people under thirty?  

But I am trying.  I went back to the exercise course yesterday after the phone calls, but true to my new form, afternoon was knocking on the door.  No matter, though.  I'm on my own schedule.  More squats, more pushups, more sit-ups, more pull ups than the time before.  I was beat.  Then it was time for the hill.  Shhh. . . don't tell this one, but I actually ran a bit of it.  Not run, exactly, but a simu-run, of sorts.  They weren't pull-ups, either.  Whatever.  The point is. . . the old college try.  

I had eaten only a yogurt for breakfast, so after my workout and 28 ounces of Gatorade--yup, they've altered the packaging from 32 to 28 oz.--I heated up the leftovers from the meat-free night before.  It had tofu, though, so there was some protein.  A shower and then. . . Jesus Marimba, it was almost three!  

"How many retirees does it take to change a lightbulb?"

I wanted a cup of green tea, so I headed up to the Cafe Strange.  Now why green tea, you might ask?  Well, their's is very good, but I read that green tea, or the chemicals therein, can help burn belly fat.

"Green tea contains caffeine and a type of flavonoid called catechin, which is an antioxidant. Research suggests that both of these compounds can speed up metabolism. Catechin can help to break down excess fat."

Two to three cups a day, I've read, but since they serve the green tea in a 12 oz. cup, I figure I'm getting some help.  

I'm like the Rain Man about some things.  At the Cafe, it is about where I sit.  And goddamnit, my seat was taken.   It was those two kids, the ones I saw the other day, kind of grown up but still funky cute, too, both wearing black Chucks and sitting across the table from one another with open computers.  They'd look, then talk, and the girl would do something unexpectedly fun or cute, but the boy never smiled nor laughed.  I envied them, somewhat, even though I know how the story ends.  But Jesus. . . they were in my spot!

I took a booth under a speaker.  The music was awful.  There are studies showing that shitty music is bad for your health.  I'm not making that up.  My mother told me.  She said that the music I listen to is good for me.  She was speaking of the jazz I play when she comes over, but I'm sure my Emo music isn't killing me either.  

Emo's Rule!


I noticed that the boy was wearing his black Chucks, but the girl had switched to red.  And therein, kids, lay the tell.  It is what intrigues me.  It is what I like.  

Soon enough, it was time for mother's.  

I walked into a mess.  My mother was having a breakdown.  The ac was leaking.  She had been trying to get hold of the HVAC people who were supposed to give her a repair quote, but. . . Jesus, it was confusing.  She can't deal with things any longer.  Something about they called her cell, then her home phone, and she was talking to different people telling her different things and she got upset, then the television started playing captions so she called the cable company and they told her that they had been working on the lines and later the captions got smaller. . . . There was a crazed look in her eyes like a wounded and cornered animal.  She didn't complete sentences and her movements were herky-jerky.  

"O.K.  Slow down.  It's not a big deal."

"I'm old.  I think I'm losing my mind."

"Do you want me to start taking care of things?" I asked.  

She nodded.  

I turned on her t.v. No captions.  

"Yes, they went off." 

I used the remote to turn them on.  

"Did the person from the cable company walk you through how to turn captions off with the remote."


"Maybe you just turned them on accidentally."


I was trying to stay calm, but shit gets real, I guess.  I am going to have to start taking care of all the issues from now on.  It's o.k.  Sure.  It will be fine.  

We split a beer and sat outside and the neighbor came by with his dog and we all joked around and when I left, she was better.  But I?  I decided to break my routine.  I headed to the end of the Boulevard where there is a restaurant with outdoor seating and ceiling to floor window/doors that open onto the Boulevard and a side street.  I haven't eaten there for a year or more, I think.  But I was on an "adventure."  Ho!

I found a parking space nearby and limped the block or so to the entrance, and when I got there, a woman who has been a personal trainer at the Club Y for twenty years was standing in front of the door.  She retired this week, and when I said hello, she fell into me.  She was drunk as a skunk.

"Are you going to buy me a drink?" she asked, but it wasn't a question.  


She was with her husband, and the two of them followed me to the bar.  It turned out that her husband was an old Townie like me, and we began to swap tales of how the place has changed.  We were sitting in a space that had long ago been a Beef and Bottle owned by my conservative friend's brother.  The husband had been a patron, then a bartender.  The bartender came up.  They ordered wine.  I ordered the skirt steak.  While we talked, the wife sat silent, that alcoholic thousand yard stare in her eye.  She pushed her chair back and stood up--almost.  She staggered back and would have gone ass over tea kettle if her husband hadn't caught her.  Thankfully, when my dinner arrived, they said their goodbyes.  

The dinner was pretty much what you'd expect.  But I was hungry and ate it with relish.  I hadn't had meat for a couple of days.  My body was enjoying it.  

As I was finishing up, the bartender got chatty.  He was youngish, tatted, and friendly.  While I was eating, he had been talking to the fellow sitting a few stools down from me.  They were drafting players for their fantasy football team.  The fellow at the bar was the knowledgeable one and was very serious about the draft.  "Idiot," I thought.  

When my dinner plate was cleared, I sat back to finish my wine.  

"What are you doing tonight?" the bartender queried.   

"I don't know.  I just came in here to look at the girls."

That was a joke.  There were no girls in the place, just groups of older diners.  

"And you saw what I ended up with," I said, referring to the retired, drunken trainer.  

"Well. . . you got me," he said.  "I get better looking the more you drink," he laughed.  

His buddy chimed in.  "Yea, you won't even notice his beard any more."

Now we were chums.  I asked the fellow at the bar about he fantasy football thing.  I had no idea how it worked because you pick players from different teams to be on your team.  How do you know who won, I asked.  It doesn't make any sense to me.  And so he began, as people will, to explain the thing he was knowledgeable about.  It was complicated, I thought, and didn't sound like a lot of fun to me, but he said you could play for money online.  

"I'm an inveterate gambler," he said.  Maybe.  I don't think he used the word "inveterate."  

"Do you go to Vegas?"

"I've never been," he confessed sadly.  He was an online gambler, he said.  Poker.  He had started buying Crypto to play.  Went upside down for awhile when Crypto crashed.  Etc.  

When the bartender brought me the check, I couldn't read it.  I leaned toward the inveterate gambler and pushed my check toward him.  

"Usually, I would do this to the woman sitting next to me at the bar.  I'd say, 'Sugar, can you tip this out for me.  I don't have my glasses and can't see a thing.'  But you'll have to do.  What does this say?"

He told me the total.  Fuck.  I had bought $30 worth of wine for the trainer and her husband.  How'd I get wrangled into that?  

"That's a great line," he said.  "I'm going to start using that."

The bartender chimed in.  "Oh shit," he said patting his pocket, "I left my wallet in the car.  Would you mind paying this for me.  Give me your number and I'll Venmo you."

They were both laughing, but I said, "No. . . you say, 'But I've got some coke in the car.'  That always works in this town." 

"Fuck, man, I'll go back to your car with you. . . . "  

We were all friends now.  All I needed to do was coke the barman up and give him a good ride.  Jesus, what a world.  

When I got home, it was still daylight.  I'd had an early dinner, so I poured a whiskey and went to the deck.  There was no cat.  I thought about that, then about my mother and the serious quandaries of life.  Then, to distract myself, I took the usual cocktail pic.  

I sent it around.  

Earlier in the day, I had looked up a face oil I've been using since I was gifted it at Christmas.  I don't use the same face treatments every day, so it has lasted.  I wanted to find it, though, and make sure I could order more.  "Circa 1970."  I used The Google. 

"Holy shit, girlfriend," I wrote.  "You DO love me."  

She does. . . impossibly. 

When I sent her the cocktail picture, though, she wrote back, "The cheroot." She is not a fan.

She wasn't the only one who gave the old cheroot the thumbs down.  My conservative buddy did, too.  It was trending.  

I was feeling good in the early evening air.  My body was feeling the change in workouts.  I was feeling more like my self of old.  By gosh, I thought. . . . 

"You shouldn't always be putting yourself down," she said.  "It isn't healthy." 

"Oh, but there is truth to it, and it is funny." 

But maybe she is onto something.  Maybe they all are.  Maybe I shouldn't be exaggerating in all ways.  

"Reality, though, can be much more devastating than fiction."  Indeed it can.  

Still, I am a broheme hanging with the bros at the bar.  Not girls, but. . . . 

I went inside after dark, after all the thinking things through, after the texts.  I opened a container of cut watermelon and turned on Season Five, Episode  Four of "The Crown."  The episode spoke too much to me.  "Annus Horribilis."  Princess Margaret, eternal love, and a song.  

"Maybe," I thought, " I won't sleep so well tonight."

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