9/16/20 – Smoking at Smokey

I’ve been on a roll, so I hitched up the horse and buggy and headed in to town at about noon.  I needed to hit walmars for a bunch of cheap usb sticks, a hub, and some diet soda for the session.  But then came right over to the cigar lounge, where I half dreaded the idea of a fulfilled promise of someone who said they’d meet me there, not taking the hint when I kept repeating that I come here to write and work, not to hang out.

I set my bag down to claim the high-top in the back room, hit the head, and went in to the humidor.  After some deliberation I picked up 2 fuentes, 2 tatuajes and an avo I’d never smoked and brought them up to the counter where the other guy, a late 20 something whose name I’d never caught, was working at a shipment of something I couldn’t quite see.

I put my cigars down and he didn’t look up. I was wondering if he’d not noticed me, which…doesn’t make a lot of sense.  I take up a lot of room, physically and otherwise.

“Hey man, how’s it going?”  Nothing for a second.

“Can I ask you a question real quick?” He asked with more of a drawl than most people have down here.

“Sure, sup?”

“Why are you always so punctual?”  Punctual?

“Punctual?” 

“Yeah I been meaning to ask you for a hot minute.”  He glanced up.

“Am I?  I didn’t think I was that consistent.”  I thought over the last few days, maybe I was.  But wait…he didn’t work the afternoons Monday and Tuesday.  Did they….was I THAT much of a topic of conversation? That’d be weird.

“You’re doing it right now.”  W…what?  Ohhhh….heh. 

“I…don’t think ‘punctual’ is the word you mean.  Punctual means ‘on time’.”  Buy a dictionary, kids.

“Your personality.”  I was starting to get a hint of what he meant.  “Do you have a life philosophy?” He continued, just looking down into the cases of lighters he was unboxing.

I wasn’t aware that I showed up on this guy’s radar at all. He’s just a low key dude who works at the cigar lounge.  Always ready with a wave and a “See ya Mike. Have a good one.”  But never really engaging in conversation or small talk.

It was an interesting question, now that I’d deciphered it, and it deserved an answer.

“Well, I’ve been through a lot of shit in my life so I figure I’m not gonna pay that forward.”  It was a round already in the magazine.

“Like what?”  He still wasn’t making eye contact, busying himself with his newly arrived stock.

I wasn’t going to go that deep this fast with someone.  Not before a cigar at least.

“Well you know, you encounter people all the time who are in a pissy mood and make it other peoples’ problems.   Then those people go on in their day pissed off and spread it around.  It creates a downward spiral.  I’m not going to be a part of that. Someone is in a pissy mood or if I’m in a pissy mood it’s my responsibility to make sure that shit ends with me.  Ya know, it’s kinda funny you say that because I HAVE heard that a couple times.

“I was in the elevator in my old apartment building, wearing a sportcoat, heading to my cigar bar downtown and this old guy in the elevator asked if I was heading to a party.  I replied ‘hell I bring the party with me wherever I go’ with a wink.  He said ‘that’s what I like about you. You’re always in a good mood.’ ”  Which…wasn’t STRICTLY true. But that’s kinda the point.

“Do you worry a lot?”  DaFUQ?

“Yep.  Always have.”

“Why?”  Fuck, dude. 

“Guess I’m wired that way.  Hell that’s half the reason I come in here and write.”

“But the way you are, people notice that.”  I just looked at him quizzically.  “Yea people will notice that and form an opinion of you.” 

I shrugged in response.  I just didn’t get where he was coming from with all of this.

“Yeah then people are going to pay attention to you.”

Entertainingly, my anxiety kicked in and I didn’t trust myself to say anything, so I just ended the conversation with “Welp, I’m gonna go back and write a bit and burn off some of the madness.”  Yeah I knew exactly what I was going to write about.

Guys I don’t get it.  What the hell was he talking about.  The expression on his face was earnest.  He was trying to figure something out and perhaps trying to remind me of something I hadn’t thought of.

His gaze lingered as I walked to the back room where I’d dropped my laptop and bag of toys, clearly not done with the conversation. But it was just too fucking weird for me.  Sit down and have that talk, sure. They’re interesting points. But I need to figure out where you’re coming from so I know how to frame my responses.  It’s not a talk to have while I’m waiting for you to take my money for cigars, with someone waiting behind me.

I feel like Lewis Black after the “If it wasn’t for my horse, I’d never have spent that year in college” moment.  It’s just ripping around in my head “What the hell did all of that MEAN?  What was the contextual frame he was querying from?”

The implication SEEMED to be that standing out in a crowd was a fundamental negative.  But there just wasn’t enough context to thread those apparent non-sequiturs together.

But it was startling to me how well it dovetailed with a conversation I had last night with Colt and Tarrant.

I came back here, plugged in my laptop, signed in, lit my Avo (fucking delicious by the way, a South American wrapper of some kind with an orange and green wrapper, so…Brazilian?) and started typing…

“I’ve been on a roll…”

Fuck it.  I’m just gonna post this like this and move on to the other project I’ve been working on.  But I’m going to come back to these topics as some of them were on the slate for the next couple days anyway.

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