Thursday, June 29, 2006

One Man's Mundane....

As an around-the-house-fix-it-guy, I am about as handy as Stephen Hawking. I am okay at changing light bulbs and cleaning up hairballs, but really that is about it. Also, I am carrying an unnecessary extra twenty pounds and get winded going to the mailbox. Living on Diet Coke, cigars, and whiskey may or may not play a role. I haven’t decided. But surely not. And although the extent of my physical workouts consists of dodging Junebugs on my porch at night and carrying a handle of Evan Williams from the Jeep to the kitchen once a week, I like physical activity. I appreciate a good sweat. One of my enjoyable things is cutting the grass—sniff-sniff, I mean tending the lawn. Like a lot of guys, I’ll bitch about it all week leading up to the actual task. But I enjoy it. My lot is roughly one third of an acre. But it is a corner lot with a fair incline and can be taxing. Especially for a guy like me. The job, all-told, takes about an hour and a half. Aside from navigating the steeper parts of the yard, keeping an eye out for spiders and snakes is the only real concern. They like to take refuge in the low-lying limbs of my obnoxious pine trees. Passing beneath those limbs gives me the fucking willies every time. Once about three summers ago, I bent low and made two passes beneath a nasty old Pine on the west side of the house. On my third pass, I stood up a little too early, paused, and noticed that I was eye to eye with a four foot black snake stretched the length of a slender limb. I think my muffled scream went something like, “OhmyJesusmotherfuckingchrist!” I tend to get religion during moments of stress. But no harm, no foul. I went inside, changed my shorts, and finished the job.

But truly, I think part of what I like about cutting the yard is the silly sense of accomplishment that comes with it. It is a small thing really, but for a sedentary guy, it is something. Invariably, the yard looks better once I am done. The physical workout makes me feel alive. My shirt sticking to me, the dust and dirt caked around my ankles and in my nostrils, the sweat running in my eyes and down my back—the all of it—reminds me that I am alive.

It is often the small pleasures in life, eh?

Often, after I’ve replaced the old crippled mower to its holding pattern, I walk down to the street, look up and admire my handy work. With its freshly cut yard, even my ramshackle house looks good. I nod my head in the affirmative. I walk up the driveway, go to the kitchen, open a teeth-achingly cold beer, and drink half of it at once. I stand at the kitchen window looking out on the new yard. The birds have, by now, converged, running and swooping, foraging for an easy-access meal.

It is a sight I appreciate for reasons not entirely understood.

I bet Stephen Hawking would appreciate it too.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Judging The Mothership

On occasion, I will sit astride my high horse and claim that I do not judge folks. At the time I say it, I believe it because it follows the path of my “to each his own” philosophy (which is quite real); and in general because I could not give a fuck what the other guy is up to. But the ultimate truth is that of course I judge people—it is human nature. And, actually, I am very good at it. I can typically tell who is full of shit and who is not. It isn’t that difficult. In the end, I don’t care. The world needs shitheads—if for nothing else, to keep the rest of us (many of us also shitheads) on our toes. Part of this judging mechanism is in place, I believe, to help us decide with whom we want to form acquaintanceships versus friendships or whom we would like to avoid altogether. Two of the more important things in assessing a person’s character, two things I look for, are sincerity and common decency. These, I find, are the two qualities most often lacking in folks today. So when I do recognize these qualities in people, I tend to pay a little more attention, and then I gain a little more hope for another day. It is a nice thing.

With this in mind, Emerson and I trekked to Berry Hill last Saturday afternoon. In part for a little BBQ and in part to support Nashville Knucklehead, whom we’ve grown fond of via this surreal Blogworld, the periphery of which we inhabit.

Now I know about as much of the restaurant business as I do animal husbandry or neurosurgery. What I do know though is people. With his candid talk of blowjobs, B-list celebrity sightings, personal angst, and devotion to his daughter, Knucklehead intrigued me enough to want to make the effort to drop by. Simply put, he comes across as a decent sort with a hell of a sense of humor. That alone is reason enough to want to support someone.

Many folks have weighed in on the Mothership experience and I’ve yet to see a single negative review. The food is exceptional. Kat Coble, Rex, Sarcastro, Lannae, and Aunt B. have put it better than I ever could. One good visit might be a fluke. At this point, it is apparent that the Mothership ain’t no fluke.

My own visit was rewarding as I had hoped. Em and I wound our way through Berry Hill, parked in back of the MS, and made our way around front. Knucklehead was behind the counter—admirably running his own show. He was sweaty, obviously tired, a little disheveled with a hard-working new business owner’s glint in his eye. Emerson and I introduced ourselves. CeeElcee and the lovely RUAbelle were there. They recognized Em from his pictures here and were simply delightful people. I could tell C. was pleased to meet us (as we were him) and not just saying so. He was a good sort. I started to realize that his and Knucklehead’s friendship spoke well of them both.

Knucklehead personally brought our lunch. Goodbyes were exchanged with C. Em was on his best behavior. And then on this, his first day open for business, Knucklehead took a seat next to us and struck up casual, sincere conversation. The guy had to have had 101 things going on, things which needed tending to. But he chose to sit down and visit. There was no preceding sense of obligation—we are but a couple of guys who scribble words and caught each other’s attention. He sat down because he wanted to. The conversation was easy. Comfortable. He was patient as a father with Em’s occasional interruptions. Interested as a good conversationalist when I spoke. Passionate about his own subjects when he spoke. He could have been the biggest dick on the planet that day—aloof as a professor of Education and I would not have faulted him nor judged him harshly for the day was his; he’d labored for it and earned the right. But no. He took nearly an hour of his day and, not so much shared it, as he gave it to a virtual friend/literal stranger and his son. Take what you know of the general populace today—our self-serving, self-absorbed populace—and be rid of it. Em and I neither deserved nor expected the pure selflessness Knucklehead offered. But we got it. For our very easy journey, we received an exceptional meal, great conversation, a guided tour, and an escort to our Jeep. Knucklehead even took a few minutes to show Em the caboose-sized cooker where he works his magic. Then, as casually as when he sat next to us, he shook hands goodbye and left to prepare for the dinner crowd.

I will return to the Mothership. And I will recommend it to others. Not solely because the Q is likely the best I’ve ever had but because sincerity and common decency are also on the menu. And there is no extra charge.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Nashville Pre-Storm 06.01.06

It’s really rolling in. Sounds like waves crashing. The trees bowing and bending and coming together. My hand-crafted Hilton Head wind chimes dancing and flailing. The sky alive with light and darkness. A crack of lightning. A peel of thunder. The rain now like applause.

My cigar held. My drink Poised.

I wouldn’t miss this for all the world.

06.01.06, Late p.m.

I hear low rumbles of distant thunder. The dog’s chain across the street dragging across his driveway. Breeze through maples. The stereo inside peeking random passages from Dylan, The Kinks, Van Morrison, Robert Earl Keen, and Willie Nelson.

I see night lightning above the trees flash-bulbing my navy blue sky. Wisps of cigar smoke. A week’s worth of unread City Papers. A near empty (beckoning) highball glass.

I want financial security. To feel the rain on my face. To be as calm on the inside as I project on the outside. To share a quiet drink and unspoken conversation with my buddy, K. To go to a poetry reading. To resurrect Bukowski for a single fractured evening.

I need to feel the flesh of another for an hour—maybe two. To travel. To drive nowhere with the sunroof open and get lost. To disappear—just for awhile. To see some guy with a guitar in a near empty barroom. To Sleep 24 uninterrupted hours. To stop thinking so much. To touch the Gulf of Mexico again. To go to a baseball game. To need.