Monday, October 18, 2010

a nightcap before night

on the way home from class i stop in a bar to have a few drinks. i saddle up to a corner and slide off my backpack and and let my self exhale before ordering a drink. next to me is a man not much older than myself and hes trying to get the bartenders attention and adjusting his baseball hat nervously. hes fiddling with his smart phone and shifting in his seat. the bartender knows him and knows how to handle him and ignores him until he settles a bit, quiets in his stool, focuses on his phone, and then comes over to see what the guy wanted.

i sip my manhattan and dont pretend to be shy about eavesdropping on their conversation. its baseball talk. football talk. the bartender, who i know fairly well and get along with in a very casual way, without the pretense of politeness and regardless of our shared profession, knows enough about both sports to hold a reasonable conversation with the guy, who, it seems, is filled with up-to-date statistics and inside news on every player on every local team. i chime in when i can, offering the weak second hand facts i picked up in the newspaper or on sports wrap ups during the week. the bartender holds his own and backs up my statements with a knowing wink. i finish my manhattan and decide to move when the conversation dies and a window opens.

i go to another side of the bar, a quieter area where my seat is more personal and the conversation is more sparse. the bartender comes over and pours me a beer and each of us a shot of whiskey. we catch up with each other.

he is a photographer, im assuming a good one, and works the bar to pay the bills. to support his art. he knows i write and that i dont call myself a writer. we discuss the trials of creative ventures, or more accurately, how to handle those spells when the juices arent flowing and it seems the well has run dry. i tell him about how i havent written in weeks and how there are no words in me to write. he tells me of a writer whos name i forget, who worked at the post office and wrote every day for four hours and never got famous or even recognized until he was retired and about to die. i nod solemnly at this all too typical tale, afraid to respond with my voice for fear ill doom myself to the same fate. i cant write four hours a day, i think to myself, i can barely write twenty minutes a day. i ask what he does when he feels creatively blocked and he says he shoots a roll a day no matter what, even if the pictures are crap. i have to admire this and also feel a bit envious, i wonder if its easier to just shoot pictures of crap than it is to write a few pages of crap.

he suggest i look into other mediums. see a play. read some poetry. i agree, and promise myself ill try. i dont know if i will, but it seems like a good idea. i can definitely find inspiration in the cadence of written dialog, or the meter of a gentle stanza. i dont mention how i am falling behind in school, how the record company has kept me busy, how my love life has become a tangled distraction. these are all excuses, all reasons to hold myself back. he knows and i know.

i finish my beer and we take our shots. he doesnt charge me for the drinks and i tip him $20. we shake hands and i thank him for the advice. the guy in the corner with the baseball hat yells out something toward the screen. i shrug on my back pack and i walk home with the moon on my shoulders and wonder what it is i didnt write this time.


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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at