I was recently patroning a local watering hole that has the unique distinction that, on it's off nights, is one of those type of bars that only seems to exist in the movies. You know the kind: dark enough to hide your identity unless you are dramatically leaning over a candle to make a soliloquy, quiet enough to hear the background music that is actually in the background, stocked with fine imported liquors priced so that even artists can afford to indulge, and filled to no more than 10 percent of its occupancy with people that you wouldn't mind ending up having a conversation with.
So I'm sitting in this little pub in my usual, non-descript out-on-the-town regalia, (black on black with sable and ebony highlights) bending my own personal code about drinking alone because the bartender is a friendly conversationalist and I happened to be in a rare-for-me "I vant to be alone" sorta moods. As I began to have the closest thing to oral sex allowable in public, (Cragganmore, drunk as nature intended...neat, soda back, lime optional but appreciated thank you very much) my opening scene was suddenly shattered by a recently oft-repeated phenomena of my being in public that should be a vanity booster, but is rapidly becoming a real pain in my hindquarters.
Midly tipsy, yet otherwise non-malevolent member of the eve's supporting cast:
"Hey, I know you!"
Now mind you, I've got an ego the size of outer Mongolia and normally really get off on the fact that somehow people have begun to recognize me for things I'm doing professionally that I'm not wanted by the government for, but I was actually starting to enjoy a quiet evening by myself. Upshot is that where I'd normally slide a business card across the bar to this fellow pub-crawler and start the, "Y'know, you just might," spiel, I responded with a shrug that I hoped would gain me the same notoriety as Claude Rains sans bandages.
Unfortunately, Mr. Iknowyouwellenoughtobugyouski decided to take the uncomfortable pause as a sign that more walking scenery was needed for this vignette and proceeded to round up Mrs. Iknowyouwellenoughtobugyouski (or at least what was serving as her for the evening) and another drunkard that was either their hyperthyroid child or a member of the local college football (Sorry, Foo-Bah, don't wanna confuse the guy if he's reading along) team.
"Hey, honey? Remember that art show we went to with the jewelry, the guy who made it is sitting over here!"
Anyways, now that the scene was set, and the odds of escape by pugilism were dwindling (Mrs. Iknowyouwellenoughtobugyouski looked fairly butch.), I suddenly caved and decided to turn on the charm for this newly formed contingent of The Morpheus Co. fanthrong.
Ok, truthfully, I caved and got real sweet in hopes that it would be a short exchange. Remember my earlier point, normally I genuinely love this sort of thing, but my mood was a little off tonight. (foreshadow...cue kettle drums.) Apparently, I had failed to put on my "Piss Off" expression before I entered the bar, or maybe it slid into my drink at some point.
"So, are you that Mar-foos guy or not?"
The sad part here is twofold...This was actually said (and although I hear bastardizations of our company name used in place of my surname all the time, it always amuses me to find out who failed World Literature 101) and it wasn't said by Mr. Foo-bah.
Normally, I frown on being confused with a deity of the ancient Greeks, but I've had the "I thought you said you were this Mar-foos guy" conversation so many times I let it slide.
"Yup, afraid so...what can I do you for?"
Man, I am the charm king...a laugh, a guffaw, and a snort from the Mrs.
"My girlfriend and I were at your last show," he continued whilst I mentally scrolled back my resume to remember which one he was talking about, "pretty cool night, man."
I was overwhelmed.
"So like," and with the dark lords of hell as my witnesses, she actually began that way. I mentally noted that this watering hole should only be patroned between semesters, "when's your next party? I'd love to come..."
Ok, she got to it. I should have politely told her that it was going to be a while. I could have mentioned the five year anniversary of the company and explained about restructuring for a few minutes. Hell, I ought to have told her about the surgery my wife was recovering from which tossed our entire lives for a while. Those things would have been said by a collected, polite man hoping to assist this somewhat tired exchange in it's typical vanilla (which brings up the point that if you spot me on the street, for heaven's sake say something interesting.) fashion.
As upcoming events will testify, I am not that collected, polite man.
Let's face it, a little personal inventory is in order here:
one generally misanthropic, temperamental
two of today's meals missed due to running around like a lunatic.
three of the aforementioned oral fixations downed in succession by yours truly.
I was definitely not that collected, polite man.
I whipped away from the bar to face them in a manner that would have made Perry Mason take notes and lit another cigarette so there would be smoke coming out of my nose when I started raving...I felt a good one coming on.
I smiled, inhaled deeply and went off.
"You know, I'm afraid it's going to be a little while. Heck, at this precise instant in time I'm not sure I even care if I do throw another little 'wine and cheese wank-off' ever again. You see, I'm an artist, not a party planner, and apparently the only thing you noticed at the last time I threw my soul out for scrutiny was what was on the relish tray. You'll have to forgive me if I seem a might riffed at the horror of not throwing another cocktail party for you, because although I'd just love to be 'The Morpheus Company - Dream Caterer's' I don't really feel the emotional need to provide horse de' ovaries to the thronging masses of this art-killing town."
I was impressed. Even Mr. Foo-bah took an involuntary step backwards. The instigator decided to defend his little band by speaking reverently on behalf of Dallas' art-patron community.
"Hey man, we came to your deal...we aren't art-killers."
I always loved the way drunk people would turn your words into catch-phrases to make a point. I decided that I liked the bar's current decor, so verbal vivisection was my only recourse.
"Really? why'd you go?" I slid out the bear trap and waited. Please remember I was under duress.
"A friend of mine said it would be a fun night out." Sometimes it was like removing confections from the manipulatory appendages of minors. With an axe. While the kid is sleeping.
"Oh, well that changes everything! You," I pointed at him for emphasis...after all form counts, "wanted a fun night out," I whipped my finger over to the Mrs. so I could turn her words against her, "partying! Now that's what I call supporting the arts, man. So let me ask you, other than the free booze, did you get anything out of it?"
He honestly thought he had me.
"Oh," he actually got righteous, "you're just pissed off because we didn't buy anything."
He went there, he actually went there...no help from me at all.
"I really don't care if you bought me and the three other artists on display that you didn't notice at that opening out completely...I asked if you got anything out of the experience. Did you pick up even the smallest insight? Can you name one piece that actually made you spontaneously develop an opinion about it...even a negative one?"
He stammered something about it being a while ago.
"Can you just answer one question for me then? Would you have been there if we were charging for the drinks? I didn't think so. My friend, you are the archetype of the Dallas art-killer. Your body was there but you weren't. You went, scarfed some fricking peanuts and punch, and nodded politely when some comment about the artwork around you was made. I'm not even asking you to have liked any of what you saw...hell I would have gotten off on even one person giving me a little criticism that they came up with on their own. It's not like much of anyone in this town has an opinion that they didn't pull out of a magazine. Believe me, no artist is in this for the money. To inspire? yes. To cause a bit of controversy? often. To reach out and see if anyone else around him has even a shred of a soul anymore? desperately. Never mind Dallas' lack of support for non-mainstream artists undermining the legitimacy of every bit of creativity in this area; without people who respond to it honestly, art is so dead there isn't even enough left for the coroner to tell you what killed it."
I was considerate enough towards my fellow alcoholics to move the beernuts before his jaw dropped into them.
About this time, even in my dehabilited state, even I realized I had crossed the line. Repeatedly. While thumbing my nose at the crossing guard. I expected Mr. Foo-bah and this Gent to introduce me to my own G.I. tract any second. Heck, I was even ready for his girl to, like, mace me. It wasn't the words in the next exchange that threw me, but the fact that they emanated from our star quarterback.
"Dude's gotta point. He's nice enough to let you into his party, least you can do is take a real look at his stuff. Otherwise just go to happy hour and stop yanking his rod."
Gotta remember to move the beernuts out of range of my own jaw next time, just in case of dramatic reversals like these. As I wiped the salt off the jawbone laying in my lap, I watched an amazing sight. I got to see Mr. (and amazingly enough, Mrs.) Iknowyouwellenoughtobugyouski go through a minor revolution in thought...caused by a guy who couldn't speak in complete sentences. I often joke cynically about how most people walk through life half dead, well it almost looked like our star player had just rushed in with a crash cart. I'm not talking about a Tiny-Tim-suddenly-it's-a-wonderful-life kinda change, but he actually got them thinking.
It's amazing. I can go off like Dennis Leary's illegitimate lovechild for hours and not find enough depth in the well of someone's soul to wet my nickel when I make a wish, and Mr. Foo-bah can rattle cages in 35 words or less. Maybe that's the problem, we're all talking so much that we've stopped thinking, and by extension lost sight of what we are feeling. Maybe the problem is we've gotten so good at, and I gotta use Mr. Foo-bah's phrase because it's my new favorite idiom, yanking everyone's rod that we're starting to feedback on ourselves and we end up yanking our own.
Maybe if more people walked around rattling cages instead of parroting the words on the pages lining them we wouldn't have this problem. If people just dealt with art with a little more honesty, a little more simplicity and a little less of treating it as some sort of elitist "scene" to be a part of, more people would care to keep it thriving. Cave paintings were art, and somehow I can't easily visualize a Neanderthal art-poseur going off on the great meaning behind it that he read on the opposite wall. Og, the cave-patron, couldn't read...he just looked at the damn painting and thought about it as hard as he could with both of his braincells.
06 / 05 / 2009