St. Valentine is the saint associated with love, you know that martyr beheaded for helping couples wed?
17:35.14.02.20. You know that tingly feeling you get all over your body when you fall in love? That’s common sense leaving your brain.
A young lust-filled earth worm was after a young and beautiful female worm. To reach her he had to make the tedious climb across a field and over the railroad tracks. As he inched over the first rail a train sped by and chopped off his rear bit. Undaunted he pushed on. Ten minutes later, crawling over the second rail another train whizzed by and whacked off the poor worm’s front part. Moral of the story? Don’t lose your head over a piece of ass.
I’m sitting in a large corner convenience store in the middle of the city. It’s noisy, chaotic and crowded with the din of people buying shit they really don’t need at obscene prices they’d balk at anywhere else but after a hard day at work reminding themselves that their current job is only until something better comes along and believing there’s something better around the corner, even though there’s probably not, they politely fight their way to the till. Not wanting to remind themselves that this is not how they ever thought it would turn out, (take a number), they probably need that Coke Lite, pack of cigarettes or Snickers bar. Red Bull gives you wings!
Outside the traffic is bumper-to-bumper, the sidewalks are packed with shoppers, pedestrian commuters and the sporadic beggar are all punctuated with the occasional siren. Not the proper British EEE-AWW, EEE-AWW sirens but those irritating American screaming, screechy kind, the ones that snap you out of your comfort zone and remind you some poor bastard’s about to have a much worse day than you did.
Yeah, one hundred and twenty-seven, no twenty-eight. That’s how many people I’ve counted in the last fifteen minutes passing by outside with their faces buried in their mobile phones. ‘Cells’ if you’re American. Cells like in a prison where you’re trapped.
People love their phones.
Outside a pair of tourists wrestling with a map pass the big picture window for the third time going in the opposite direction they scurried past last time. They’re obviously in love.
A Caucasian Rastafarian stumbles into the place, ducks past security and nicks a croissant from the pastry rack. He attacks it with a long stare, considers biting into it but doesn’t.
I recognise him from the time I looked up ‘wasted’ in the dictionary. There was a picture of him there. Any more drugged up he’d be unconscious. Maybe he is and doesn’t know it. We call what he’s doing the ‘heroin dance’ that jittery, sporadic step-by-step reminiscent of St. Vitus’ Dance.
He suddenly decides he has a beef with the pastry and, perhaps in fear of it attacking him, starts pounding hell out of it beating it into the table and loudly cursing it. Indications that we are in a real city surface as everyone ignores him.
Everyone except the four foot tall, 50 kilo Nigerian security guy in the ill-fitting, poorly designed uniform approaches and tells the six foot plus human train wreck to cool it.
They stare each other down.
My money’s on the little Nigerian.
Suddenly deus ex machine strikes! Rasta man’s girlfriend flounces through the door, bear hugs him, starts crying and apologies to him. They kiss.
Cue romantic music, FADE OUT: ROLL CREDITS. Ain’t love grand?
Love is unquestionably a critical component in this life but relationships are either a bitch or a blessing, there never seems to be a median. Probably because there’ no secret formula. If there was everyone would likely know about it.
Having had three wives and dozens of girlfriends over the years, (almost never simultaneously), I consider myself something of an expert in relationships. Now love – that’s a whole other area.
Working at a relationship, really putting in the 9-5 effort at establishing, maintaining and improving it, appears to me the way to keep it sailing along.
Scenes like one with Rasta Man and girlfriend remind me why people believe in gods and goddesses. For most of this existence is so non-productive, so mundane, so meaningless otherwise, without the illusion of something after this most people would do a Hemingway and blow their brains out. No criticism on the god thing, although I’m not real big on the blowing your brains out thing either, mainly because it’s a lose-lose situation. If you succeed there’s no second chance. If you muck it up and don’t die, you have to explain to all those you tried to leave behind what the hell you were thinking by screwing up their day having to leave work and rush to hospital, after trying to check yourself out.
On the god thing whatever gets you through the day, or the night I suppose. Although if you Epstein yourself and punch your own ticket you won’t . . . never mind.
So after 37 years of travel, living in a half a dozen countries with a dozen cultures, I finally realise I am where I am.
Then it occurs to me, this is as close as I’ll ever come to a ‘home’ again. My travels have shown me that when you kiss mom and dad good-bye for the final time, you’re never really ever ‘home’ again. You’re just working to find a better place to live. Hopefully with somebody to love. Great title for a song, no?
Something else occurred to me as I sit here banging away on my ninth novel: I got what I asked for. I got exactly what I asked for. I bought the ticket and am taking the ride.
Regardless of all the negative shit I and others have put me through, I am exactly where I want to be at this moment in time and in the immortal words of that possessor of bizarre kitchen paraphernalia, Queen of homemaking and Mistress of tax evasion and insider trading Martha Stewart; “That’s a good thing!”
p.s. – Rasta man was finally escorted out by the cops, his wailing girlfriend staggering behind him. Ain’t love grand?!
Happy Valentine’s Day!