I would have left some time ago, but the music is too good. The beers here cost damn near a buck fifty, and the gulash I had, which was excellent, was also on the spendy side. But the tunes are good. Johnny Cash, Lou Reed. The woman next to me here at the bar, who is probably from Jamaica or environs, requested Beatles, and right now “Something” is playing.
There’s a good vibe here. The language in this bar is English, which means I can talk to people, and they can distract me while I write. Jamaica woman is a terrible singer, but that’s not what matters. She’s singing. I’m singing along as well. Other patrons are singing. It’s the vibe.
Danielle just arrived. The bartender asked, “do you want a coffee or a beer?”
“So you’re having a good day.”
“You bet.” Danielle is American. She rolls her own. Squeeze is playing now, at the request of the Brit sitting next to me. Lots of people are following along. and that’s all right.
So there’s this World cup thing going on. It’s only football (soccer to those where football means Sunday), but people still get pretty worked up about it. The Czechs lost a game they really should have won a few days ago, and now they’re pretty much out. I had a discussion with the dutch bartender that went –
J: The czechs look good on paper but they lost the critical games.
DBT: They’re still the best team in the world.
J: If you can’t win the games that matter, you’re not the best team.
DBT: That’s not the way to think about it.
There were a couple more rounds of that. Apparently I’m awfully damn American to think that the measure of a team is whether it wins the big games, but I’ve met a couple of Atlanta Braves fans who think the “European way”.
But that’s not important. What is important is that the woman who was next to me is not Jamaican. Even that’s not important. What is really is important is that I know she’s not Jamaican. I know this because I talked to her. Yes, you read that right. I talked to a woman in a bar. I didn’t mention this before, but she has long, straight hair that hangs to her waist, enormous walnut eyes, and rich, full lips. The process that led to conversation was a gradual one, stretched over an hour, and was based mostly on both of us knowing the lyrics to certain songs.
She’s not from Jamaica. Man, was I off with that guess. There’s a musicality to her speech that I attributed to the islands, but I was plain and completely wrong. She’s your typical Korean-French-American-Swiss-andsoforth kind of girl. If she is the physical representation of globalization then all I can say is bring it on. I didn’t mention it before, but she is beautiful.
I told her I was a writer. Her vision of me instantly became misty and irrational. There’s something she wants to write. She asked me to read the first paragraph, but I stopped at the second sentence. The first was golden, Five words. A question. A damn good question. The second sentence was a train wreck. I skimmed the rest of the brief text and found muddled ramblings punctuated with really good questions. She looked at me hopefully. “You have a story to tell,” I said, “You have the questions. You don’t have to have the answers, but when you speak of cruelty, you have to be specific. You have to show the cruelty. If it’s your life, you have to show your life.”
More conversation ensued, and I promised to edit her work. That will be a major undertaking, certainly frustrating, possibly embarrassing, if she follows through. But she has a story, and I will do what I must to see a good story told. So we talked for a bit, and just before Skippy arrived she said, “If you read this I will never be able to talk to you again. We can only talk through email.”
And then, as foreshadowed, Skippy showed up. In fact, Skippy is sitting next to me now. Cleopatra is long gone, but Skippy is pounding away on her laptop.
His name is not really Skippy, but it should be. As I post this, he is wondering why I’m smiling at him.