Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Rule #1

Oh fuck!  I did it!  I took a picture!!!

I had decided that I would take my Leica with me all the time, wherever I went, and I would try to get back on track.  There was a world to be documented out there.  Someone has to do it.  

"If you want to be a photographer, you have to take photographs." 

That's rule #1 in the Photographer's Handbook.  Look it up.  

But I get ahead of myself.  This happened after I didn't paint the deck.  I was willing and ready.  After writing yesterday's post, I got out the painter's tape and got down on my hands and knees to tape off the wall where it meets the deck.  That was agony.  My knees didn't like it, especially the bad one.  But it was done and I went to pick up the paint at the Benjamin Moore store up the street.  They are good.  They keep a list of all the paint you buy, for what, and on which date in their computer.  

"I need to get the deck paint I used last year."

"Let me see. . . what's your last name?  Black Forest.  A fellow just bought all I had early this morning."

"What?  Really?  Do any of the other stores have any?"

He checked the computer.  There was a store over half an hour away.  

"I can get you some later today," he said.  

And so I went home, ate a yogurt, and got dressed for the gym.  What else could I do? And by the time I had finished my workout, they had the paint.  But it was past noon.  It was hot.  Part of the deck was now in the sun.  

I would wait until the morning.  It was fine.  I made a tuna sandwich and ate it while shopping online.  I bought things I wanted.  Buck Mason shirts, some pure olive oil soap from Greece, vitamins, a coder that will make my Leica camera recognize my non-Leica lenses, and a small bluetooth zinc printer the size of my iPhone that prints on sticky back paper so that I can illustrate my journal.  I am excited about this, of course.  I am just starting a new one, a small Moleskine.  The things I bought from Amazon will be here today.  I have only recently realized that not everyone gets free one day delivery from them.  People who live in small, midwestern towns, for instance, must wait much longer.  I, however, living outside Gotham, have multiple Amazon distribution warehouses nearby.  There are some advantages to living near a hub.  I get unreasonably pissed when I buy merchandise from non-Amazon shops and have to wait five days for a delivery.  

"I want it now!" 

After lunch and shopping, and after a shower, I had some time before going to visit my mother, so I headed to the liquor store.  And by God, the scotch was on sale at the old pre-Covid price!  I bought "some."  

Across the street from the liquor store is the Cafe Strange.  On Mondays, they have a market set up in their lot and you can't park.  

"Hey. . . is it o.k. if I leave my car here while I jump across the street for a coffee?"

"It's illegal for me to say yes, but we won't tow your car." 

Cool.  I stashed the liquor in the car and grabbed my courier bag and my Leica.  I've decided to follow rule #1.  

As I walked through the lot where the merchants were setting up their booths, I heard someone call my name.  It was a fellow I had hired long, long ago to work part time at the factory.  

"How are you enjoying retirement," he queried.  

"I've recently started liking it more all the time.  What are you doing?"

He was selling micro-greens.  He and his wife grew them, he said.  He was selling them in markets all over town, five days a week.  

"I'm making a lot more money doing this than working," he said with a big, wide grin.  

I thought about it.  I guess his investment in them is minimal--soil, water, maybe grow lights.  I once met a guy selling hot dogs from a cart who had quit a lucrative job.  

"Hot dogs and buns are cheap," he said.  "I'm making a killing."

They weren't making Country Club money, I figured, but for them, it sure beat the hell out of working.  

I said it was nice to see him and stepped inside.  The place was pretty empty.  I walked up to the counter.  The counter girl was the young one whose face is always expressionless.  Was it natural to her or was it Prozac?  She was like a female Buster Keaton.  

"What can I get you?"

"I'll have a cafe con leche."  

Now that is not on the extensive coffee menu board, and once when I was there with Sky, I had to tell the Keaton girl how to make a Campari and soda, so I said to her now, "It is espresso coffee with a little steamed milk."  Then I read her shirt.  Oh fuck, oh fuck.  I had my Leica in hand.  Dare I?  As she made the coffee, my leg was shaking.  Could I? 

"Uh. . . um . . . I don't want to bother you. . . uh. . . . but. . . . "

"Sure," she said and stood straight facing me.  Same non-expression as always.  

I fumbled with my camera about to piss my pants.  I was blind.  I couldn't focus.  When I hit the shutter, I knew it was wrong.  

"Oh. . . wait," I said as I fumbled with the aperture.  Shit. . . shit. . . O.K.  

"I'm a great photographer," I tried to joke.  It was taking me too long to focus.  Snap.  Snap.  

I said I could send her a copy, but she said nothing, just looked at me with that same blankness while handing me my coffee.  I signed the bill and left her a hefty tip.  

When I sat down, I checked my camera first thing.  Yup.  That first pic was a blur.  But the next two. . . oh. . . oh!!!  Fuck yea!  I opened the Leica app on my phone and transferred the photos straight away.  I cooked them up just a bit.  I sat back then and looked around.  Two girls who work in the kitchen came out to bring food to the table in front of me.  I clenched my jaws.  They are clones of the counter girl in manner and style.  I should go back to the kitchen and ask if I could make a picture.  I should, but couldn't.  Maybe.  Shit.  My best photos lately have been taken in cafes and bars.  I should be a cafe photographer.  All I have to do is. . . .

At the table in front of me was a new mother with her baby, a young girl with blond hair that was nearly white.  Her, too.  Two girls came in and went straight to the Photo Booth.  And them.  It could be a project like the Paris photographers who have documented La Dome, the Cafe Select, the Cafe de Flore, and Les Deux Magots.  

O.K.  Crazy.  I'm just letting you peek through the crack into my skull.  It is a silly world there.  I am just reporting.  

I opened my journal and sipped my coffee.  I really wanted that zinc printer now.  What fun that will be.  

In a bit, it was time to go see my mother, so I packed up my bag and walked to the counter.  

"What kind of phone do you have?" I asked the expressionless girl.  

"Just a regular phone."

It was an iPhone.  I showed her the photo of her that I had cooked up on mine.  

"I can Air Drop it to you," I said.  


"I don't really know how to do it, though." 

"Here. . . give me your phone."

She put them together head to head.  She scrolled and punched in some things on my phone.  I got nervous.  I was trying to remember what was on there.  Hell, she could be transferring all sorts of things.  She could be taking all my. . . .  

She handed me back my phone and showed me hers.  

"Got it."  

Another girl was standing next to her.  

"Oh, wow. . . that's great!"

Keaton's expression didn't change but she said yea.  She liked it.  I took a peak at the kitchen but I didn't see the girls.  Maybe I was a bit relieved.  "Next time," I told myself, but I know from experience there is never a "next time."  

Still, walking back to my car, I was pleased.  

Now the morning is waning and I need to get to painting.  I have more to write but not the time to do it.  I'll have to save my canasta tale for later.  

I can't delay. . . so to the deck.  

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