“I’ve slept longer than you’ve lived.”
The movie Factotum(2005), based on the novel by Charles Bukowski, despite my desire for it to be so, was not a great movie. But that line in the trailer was enough for me to go see the thing. I don’t find Bukowski to be all that interesting of a writer, save for some incredibly quotable lines he will occasionally deliver, and that one was no exception. I love the perspective it immediately throws you in. Everything you’ve done with your life, this guy has wasted all that time and more. It makes me wonder what he did when it wasn’t down time.
I used to work the day shift at a bar in the city, and though I had quite a few regulars, my favorite one was this guy Dave. Always took the corner seat, always had a shell necklace and shirt with some sort of tropical theme to it–basically he was ready at all times in case someone walked in the doors and handed him a free two week vacation to the Bahamas. Not that he was naive like that or anything- that was just a joke about his choice of clothing, no he was an incredibly smart and interesting guy, and it helped that he was usually in when the bar was quiet. We would and did talk about anything, and he insisted on lending me books, since when he walked in he’d usually find me with my nose buried in one. The Snow Goose, Time and Again, and one of my all time favorites, The Power of One, among others, made their way back and forth over the bar top during that year. But really it was just talking to the guy. He loved Hemmingway, he’d been all over the world, but had lived in New York the whole time and seen the city he loved grow and change. It’s a perspective that requires years well beyond what I’ve but in on this earth.
I don’t work at that bar anymore, but if I happen to be in the city during the day with no particular destination, I’ll make it the bar stool next to Dave, and sit there quietly with a couple beers in the afternoon sun and hear about the way it used to be or maybe just listen with him to the pulse of the neighborhood and it will be, in my book, time well spent.
The Step- They won’t be around forever, saddle up and listen, you never know what you’ll hear.