eavesdropping notes, saturday, november third, 2007, noon.
I’m wedged in this corner booth, scrawling words.
A bearded guy walks into the bar. He has a voice like a door that won’t open. I close my eyes and listen to the weird sounds of people. This is the alternative.
The birds in my head flock and talk at the same time and I’m unable to sleep. I can’t rest at home, the birds get cacophonous there, so I leave and implant myself in distractive spaces. The birds tag along. I steer my thoughts away from them.
I think about clouds that go still, give up and fall.
The bar’s TV- a large one against a far wall- says, “New spacewalk to begin shortly”, so I imagine funny things happening in the big ink above us. I imagine elderly mall walkers in fish bowl helmets doing laps around the moon.
Thoughts feel word-centric on alcohol. I close my eyes and try to focus on the human birds around me. Conversation bores into my ear like a marrow. It seethes from mouths.
From the table next to me: “Claremore is a different market. You can get away with more in Claremore than you can in Tulsa.” Someone else at the table uses the word “housing”, then the first guy says, “If your house sells for more than you paid for it, that’s capital gain”. I then learn a lot about the tax implications of capital gain. Suit guy, befuddled clients, slow-talking a decision.
Bikers…a family of them…sit at the booth in front of me. Mom, dad and three little kids, they’re all wind-blown, sun-burnt and decked out in leather. It looks like they sat in a circle around a cartoon bomb that blew out their hair and toasted their skin. The youngest of the kids, he’s two or three, turns around and stares at me. Mom turns around too and says, “I’m sorry. He’s probably going to stare at you for awhile. He does that.”
My beer is inert. I keep touching the bricks on the wall next to me, fingers straying over the roughness, one way, then back.
Biker Dad, talking about the littlest biker, says, “Are we just going to let his hair grow forever? Is that the plan?” Mom defends the hair; dad responds, “That’s fine. I’m just sayin‘ is all.” He pauses, sighs a big sigh and says, “Your way is always the right way.” Mom says, “That’s right.”
Six frat-birds drink beer in front of a huge tv. They nod a lot and blurt sports-themed monosyllables. “Pass.” “Run.” “Go”. They high five and holler.
Biker Dad to Biker Mom: “Don’t speculate. You don’t know. You’re getting yourself worked up over nothing.” He’s quiet, then he says the phrase, “Civil War re-enacters.”
That seems out of context. Then three guys in Civil War costumes walk by and take a table. The “housing” people proceed to have an hour of very structured small-talk. Slow, detailed, educational. The tiniest Biker stares at more people and starts to hop up and down. Biker Dad says, “You wanna get down and boogie? You wanna be in funky town? Yeah, you can dance. I don’t think anyone will mind.”
I get loopy on the beer. I go into my stares and have to catch myself, sort of consciously talk myself out of the bricks. It’s like a landscape where the closer you look, the more detail there is and the harder it becomes to see the landscape. Mind transposing to moonscape and craters. The wall gets weird.
Fraternity table: “See this shirt? I haven’t washed this shirt since the USC game.” His friend says, “Dude…we lost that game.” First guy looks confused for a second, then says, “Right. I washed it that night, after the game, and haven’t washed it since.”
Then all of the birds diminish. The mind ones, the real ones, all of them. I stand and struggle over to the bar guy and say nothing and pay up. On the bill, I input the tip…the amount…on the back, I write, “O rover, red rover.”
Then I go home and the birds clutter around and we listen as the fridge motor hums like a numbers station.