Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Post Cards from a Ghost Ship

I’m used to people being rude, because generally speaking, civility is dead, has been dead for quite some time now, and I see nothing in the masses that leads me to believe that it might be resurrected. In smaller towns, where to know damn well you’re going to run into someone some place at some time, and that person is someone you’re going to have to deal with at the bank or the only store in town, or something like that, there is a certain sense of obligation to be civil, and even friendly. In a larger town, where you might not ever see the same person twice, being rude is like a pair of sunglasses people wear to keep people from seeing how scared they are.

I went to a book store, one of the nig chain warehouses without souls but with coffee, which I think is an evil trade off, but I am addicted to coffee, so I have to go in, and they do have books. That’s true evil right there. I once knew of three or four bookstores in Valdosta, and they knew me, but now... I can come up with one small book store, and it’s so packed with books it’s hard to move around inside.
So here I was, trying to find Bill Bryson’s new book, not that I would buy it, because I have to look at a book before I buy it. I have to feel the thing in my hand, I have to leaf through it and I have to look through it, just in case. Even if I am going to buy it online I have to see the thing first. Oh, just in case is for the poet I knew that left her poems on postcards in new books. She was an odd one, and she and I broke up via postcard. I got a postcard from her one day explaining how she wasn’t going out with me anymore, and didn’t like the confrontation thing, so one of her postcards was how she broke up with me. The off thing was she was still living with me when I got the card. I went downstairs to get the mail and there was the breakup card and I went upstairs and asked her when she mailed it, and if that was before we went out the night before, and had a great time, I thought, and she agreed we did have a good time, but she wanted to break up with me anyway. She didn’t have anywhere else to live, or anywhere to go, but she agreed living with me wasn’t what she wanted to do anymore, so could she just leave her stuff there, keep the key so when she wanted to move out she could, and she would go live with friends until she got her own place. I was cool with it, and it was like a break up that took three months to complete, and it was difficult to explain to people how we weren’t living together but she was still there a lot.
I half expect to find a postcard in a new book one day, but it never happens, but even as this thought is forming a woman who works there growls at me. Like I said before, I more or less have surrendered the idea of civility in this world, but for the help at a bookstore, even a chain book store, to be growly is a bit much. You know, I just realized that growly looks a lot like grow-ly, but that is not a real word, I suspect, and you’d have to use it in a sentence like “That woman could grow vegetables anywhere, she was a grow-ly girl” but I don’t have a grow-ly girl I have a growly girl.
There is not a lot of wisdom I will lay claim to when it comes to women, but one of the Great Truths of The Universe is this:  If you can get a woman who is a bad mood to move away from you, then it is nearly almost always best for you to let her decide when to stop moving.
The bad thing about having lived in this area on two very separate times of my life, I still run into people who remember me as I once was, twenty years ago, and rarely have I kept in contact with anyone for that long. There was a lot of alcohol involved in my life back then, and I remember some events poorly or only told by survivors. As I watch the Growler head towards the back of the store, I try to think of how she might have looked twenty years ago or so, and honestly, I don’t think she is old enough for me to have insulted her then, and she doesn’t look like any recent mishaps either.
Of course, I’m going on a decade now without having lived with another human being. It was May or June of 2002 when I woke up to the sound of being alone, and the background noise of that music has been dampened only periodically since that time. It could be mistaken identity, or maybe she is just having a bad day. It does occur to me I’m on autopilot here, assuming if a woman is pissed at me, it has to be something I said or did.
It’s a safe bet, really.

But it also occurs to me that had I thought about it at the time, I could have walked to the back of the store where she was and asked her why on earth had she growled at me. Oh, yes, Mike, your diplomatic skills would have kicked in and… Okay, maybe she was someone I once knew, and drank with and there was this misunderstanding that involved Nickel Beer Night at Papa Joe’s… and you know, looking back, I think the Great Truths of The Universe was very wisely observed.

Take Care,

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