Yay! In April the Yacht Club turned 25. Man! I wish I were just turning 25 again! I would realize that I was in the prime of my life; that there was nothing I couldn’t do. How I lived through my early twenties, I’ll never fully understand, and it remains to be seen whether the Yacht Club will have the same luck I had.
Three things I had that the Yacht Club may have, metaphorically, were; wise, subtle parents, a younger sister who looked up to me, and a top-of-the-line guardian angel. (I actually have a very zealous guardian angel who sometimes tries to take the decision-making out of my hands, which I resent, albeit half-heartedly, and usually end up being more grudgingly grateful than anything.
Surviving into early adulthood is no small task. For one thing, you are no longer the cool, subversive, skateboard-rock-star that you were in your late teens-early twenties. Suddenly, trying to live that way comes off pathetic and weird. To pretend life doesn’t matter becomes hollow and false, on account of having put twenty-five years into it and all. After twenty-five years its time to start listening to those weekend radio shows that talk about planning your retirement. You know, the ones that start out, “ Even if you only have 50 thousand dollars, it’s still not too late to start saving toward a comfortable retirement.” And, you know, the first time you hear it you whisper “Please God, please let him have said fifteen thousand dollars.” He didn’t. Old 25-yr-old-business, you better start making some fucking money or we are in deep doo doo here.
You know, if one were to write a piece of speculative fiction in which a much-loved establishment, say the Yacht Club, were somehow supernaturally linked to a single human being in such a way that all the club’s fortunes and hardships actually manifested themselves in that person, than clearly the person who would be linked to the Yacht Club would be Hippy. But what if that was too obvious and predictable, and arguably not really fiction, as a club owner’s health and fortune really do reflect that of his business. What if it was just some random customer, or a bartender or a cook? That would make a much more interesting, suspenseful, and thought provoking story, as much of it could be spent on various characters piecing the phenomenon together.
Oh my God! On Thurs. June 28th the Supreme Court upheld Obama’s health care law. When I heard about it I literally dove across the room to turn on my radio and tune it to 640 AM. Thank the Gods I had only missed the first half of Glenn Beck, leaving me a solid hour to settle in and prepare to listen to Rush Limbaugh when he came on at noon. It reminded me of when I was a wee lad and my dad would turn the living room couch on its side and pile blankets and snacks around so my little sister and I could watch the Wizard of Oz or A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Needless to say I wasn’t disappointed. Possibly the most entertaining hour and a half of talk radio I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. (Even Broccoli made an appearance.) If you missed it you have noone to blame but yourself.
Because I can’t find an angry, foaming-at-the-mouth liberal on the radio or on TV (I don’t have cable and neither should you) I have resorted to reading Hunter S. Thompson books. So I read during the commercial breaks (You can only hear “Looky looky looky here comes Cookie” so many times before you jam sharpened pencils into your ears. Wow! Finally I know what a foaming at the mouth liberal is! Yay for me! Slow learner. Dang, I wish he had a radio show I could listen to.
Do you want to return to a time when everything was wonderful? Pick your time. 1940’s, 1950s I seriously doubt he means anything later than that, but I don’t know! When was that time we want to get back to? The 1780s? Is he grossly oversimplifying, for the sake of the campaign, but really has an agenda of getting back to a time that didn’t actually exist, but is sort of a hodgepodge of good things from days gone by? Like the 1780’s without slavery, and the forties without WWII and the fifties without racial violence and rock n’ roll? It seems like it would be smarter to up the ante and try to move forward into the real times we actually live in, with the crystal meth and the sexual smorgasbord and the people banging on our borders and Iran building nuclear weapons and the polar ice caps melting and and and . . . .
I mean, I know I could be wrong. But it doesn’t seem feasible to try to go back, much as I’d love to! In fact since we’re on the subject, let me tell you what I would like to go back to, if I had my druthers. I would like to go back to when I was a little boy on Christmas morning and I was just about to start opening my presents! You promise me that, and I will vote for your ass so fast it will make MY head spin!
Along the lines of realizing I was never going to win the lottery has come a much more sinister realization, although it is so heavily laden with philosophical trappings that I think I’ll go ahead and call it what it is. A fear of non-being. Trying to remember when this fear made its first mumbling, murmuring presence known, I am shocked to realize that it was shortly after I turned twenty-five. Damn it! If this keeps up people are going to think I have literary aspirations and start eschewing me like a brooding, overly sensitive twenty-five year old whose parents are getting a divorce. And, as you well know if you have ever spent any serious time brooding in a bona fide, non-medicated depression-funk, your thoughts inevitably gravitate toward beginnings and endings (or as Faylynn would say, “teleological ho hum”).
Which brings me, by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs from whence we shall peek out (from behind the bar, of course!) and purloin the juiciest gossip we can get our ears on. Initial, unconfirmed reports seem to indicate that everything is not fine, and thus the # 3 topic of discussion at the bar for the last few weeks is a tie, undoubtedly engendered by anxiety, between Death (finally bumped from #1 after four months) and “Where we came from/how it all got started” (probably due to the mounting tension over physicists reporting they have discovered the God Particle, known as the Higgs-Boson.
Inevitably, most of this “What’s going to happen after I die/Where was I before I was born” bar talk has been teleological ho hum. But there are some concerns that people have that are endearingly familiar and I want to convey to anyone reading this that you are not alone in your fears. So let’s start with that rascally fear of being forgotten; of being erased from the memory of the still living. In all fairness, do you go about your day with the memory of loved ones who have passed away at the forefront of your thoughts? Geez, I hope not. Maybe for a few weeks after their passing, but then, don’t you satisfy yourself that they would want you to get on with your life and let them rest in peace?
If being forgotten after you die is such a loathsome, terrifying prospect for you, then by all means create something, a poem, painting or piece of music that will enjoy relative immortality and with which you will always be associated. But if you really want to leave a worthwhile legacy, touch some lives in a positive way. Make people smile when they’re bummed out. Make people laugh under any circumstances. They won’t forget you. I still remember this fifth grader who turned my tears to laughter when I was eight years old. He didn’t have to do that, but he did, and now he’s immortal!
In another conversation I overheard, and wanted to participate in ( but pesky customers kept wanting to buy stuff, and, well you know how I am with my obsessive need to wait on people promptly) a youngish couple (mid thirties) was engaging an older, biker-type dude (maybe sixty). He impressed upon them the importance of having some sort of goal, or, as he put it, an ongoing project, something big you wanted to complete before you died. At first, due to his attire and gruff demeanor I thought that maybe he had something sinister in mind, like the Oklahoma bombing (and here’s how memorable that guy is to me; when I try to remember his name, all I can come up with is Jeffrey Dahmer!) but I couldn’t have been more of a simp. He was talking about setting the bar a little too high, aiming for a summit too lofty, a river a little too wide (I’m pretty sure he was quoting Rush). He wanted to be working toward something such that when he died people would say, “Oh! Wasn’t he doing this. Did he finish it before he died?”
The best thing, he advised this young couple, was to raise a child. This he felt was the most worthwhile thing one could do with one’s life, and alas, he regretted that he had never done it himself. I remember him saying something like, “That’s got to be the greatest thing in the world to get that little sucker self-sustaining.” I love it! Especially considering that my parents somehow made me (relatively) self-sustaining in spite of the crap raw materials they had to work with. Boy! Talk about damaged goods!
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Don’t spin your wheels waiting to die.
TO BE CONTINUED. . . .