Bulgaria Dreaming

Paula and I left the bar a little after nine.  For the past few hours, I had been drinking with some of my old dot-com buddies.  Paula arrived later and didn’t drink much, which was good because she was the one driving.

It’s an odd reunion hanging out with those who shared a broken dream.  A lot of people became millionaires back in those heady times.  We didn’t.  It was a disappointment but not a fatal blow.  We’ve all moved on but still meet up from time to time because there was more than just greed we shared.  We actually liked each other.

All in all, it was a pleasant evening and I managed to show some moderation in my drinking, which was good.  I’m crazier than my old colleagues and although they’re admirably tolerant of my conversation topics, it’s good to keep some inhibitions intact so I can rein myself in.  There was also the matter of some work that needed doing when I got home, so I had to have my wits about me.

I used to work late in the hope that it would one day make me rich.  Now I just do it to pay the rent.

We walked to Paula’s car and took Mission Street all the way back to my neighborhood.  Towers of glass and steel gave way to smaller brick buildings containing residential hotels, pawn shops, and people sleeping in doorways.  When we stopped at the light at 6th and Mission, I heard the click of Paula locking all the doors.

We passed under 101 and into the Mission district. Along both sides of the street were taquerias, bars, discount retail outlets.  Hipsters and gang bangers were everywhere.  I was home.

I once thought I would be living somewhere else by now.  At one point, Amsterdam was the most likely place.  After the divorce, that wasn’t going to happen but I thought there would be some change of scenery.  At least I got my passport renewed recently.  That has to count for something.

I did my work, ate some Chinese food with Paula, and watched some South Park before turning in.  That night, I dreamed I was in some hotel in Bulgaria.  I’ve never actually been to that country but the place just kind of felt like it.  I looked out the window and saw a plaza where there was an old building, a clock tower, and a parked car.

“Is this Sofia?” I asked.  That’s the only Bulgarian city I know of so it seemed like a fair question.

“Why yes, it is.  You should check it out,” came an answer from no one in particular.

I went outside to take a few pictures with my iPhone.  Statuary came to life all around me and started killing everything in their path.  I was pursued by an animated stone sea lion.  I took refuge in a bed on stilts, to high for it to reach.

Then I woke up.  It was about 3 am and Paula was fast asleep.  I went into another room and made sure I didn’t screw up any of the work I did earlier.  I was relieved to see that everything was running fine.  There would be no complaints about me tomorrow morning, at least none about this.

My God, It’s Full of Bars

At the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dave the astronaut kept seeing older versions of himself moments before becoming that person.  He eventually saw himself on his deathbed and that’s the end of him.  Well, not exactly.  He then turned into a giant fetus in orbit in a finale that must be meaningful on an epic scale if you smoke enough weed.

Fortunately, most of don’t have to go through that.  We are obsessed by youth and therefore prefer to look back to slimmer, trimmer versions of ourselves instead of forward to the wheezing decrepitude that awaits all of us lucky enough to not die at an early age.  We all know we’re not getting any younger.  We just don’t like being reminded of that fact.

So it should come as no surprise that I felt a little ill at ease this past Monday when my future sat down on the barstool next to me.  He was about 80 and quite bald, which accentuated his Yoda ears.  His odor was typical old-man funk with a hint of pant load.

I decided to ignore him as is the case with most unattractive people.  I turned away and breathed through my mouth.  Unfortunately, he wanted to talk to me.

He pointed at bourbon and soda and asked, “Do you think five dollars is a bit much for this?”

For some near-well swill like Jim Beam, the price seemed about right.  San Francisco’s is not a cheap town.  Even if it did sound like highway robbery, I wasn’t going to say so.  To do that would be cast aspersions on the character of both my bartender and my local.  Sorry Gramps, that’s not how I roll.

“Five bucks sounds reasonable,” I said.

He harrumphed and went on to tell me how he got thrown out of the 3300 Club.  It was poetry night and from what I gathered, the old man was unconcerned for people’s feelings when he told them exactly what he thought of their verse.  Whether this was done by giving a scathing critique at the end of a poem’s recital or cupping his hand on one side of his mouth and yelling “Horseshit!” in the middle of it, I cannot say.

There are reasons I steer clear of poetry gatherings.  Most of them are filled with people who put ideology and ego above talent and craft.  And to be honest, most poems don’t float my boat.  Worst of all is that they mostly happen in coffee houses.  That means no liquor license.  That means you have do endure people’s drivel sober.

For the 3300 Club, this is not the case.  It is a full-on bar so when you’re forced to listen to some pear-shaped slattern hold back tears and bear her soul while reciting her poem “The Molested Snowflake,” you can at least do so in the comfort of a boozy haze.

That sounds like a fair arrangement to most but evidently not for the old man sitting next to me.  He probably figures that at his age, he is no longer obligated to put up with people’s shit.

And then it hit me.  Go forward thirty some-odd years and if I’m not dead, I’m going to wind up just like him.  I like to think I’ll turn into a quirky and amusing old geezer like George Burns but I’ll probably end up bitter alone, having either outlived or alienated anyone who ever cared about me.

The old man ordered a mint julep then complained that it should only cost three dollars during happy hour.  The bartender listened politely but didn’t budge on price.  I spotted a friend down at the end of the bar and moved down to talk to him.  I didn’t want to look at the old man anymore and don’t have to, at least not until he’s staring back at me in the mirror.

Hey Rocky, Watch Me Pull a Gerbil out of My…

Hello again.  To the pleasure of some and displeasure of others, Poison Spur’s hiatus is over and I’ll be posting again on a MWF schedule.   It’s amazing how one’s writing skills go into the toilet after even a short time away from it so bear with me.  Expect my entries to be as lame as this one, at least for the time being.Anyway, that’s it for today.  I have to toddle off and and be a productive little corporate cog.  See y’all Wednesday.