Saturday, January 29, 2011

Conversations with Jimmy

Jimmy and I were sitting in our favorite breakfast diner, the place where if either of us shows up alone the waitresses ask, "is your brother/sister coming?"  A place where they know our breakfast orders by heart and the chef's give us a knowing nod.  We always bring our newspapers, Jimmy the NY Times, me the Oakland Tribune, and then rarely read them. We talk instead.

Today we talked movies.  Jimmy was asking what I had seen, what I liked and why. He was asking about Winter's Bone and I was sharing a few things, enough to entice but not spoil.  That's how we got onto the subject of his visit to the Ozarks with his then girlfriend who was from Kansas City. 

Jimmy is a jittery type when it comes to crime, always nervous someone's gonna "get" him.  He plays it up, makes fun of himself...but he's also serious.  He pays me his rent in cash and refuses to go to a local ATM in Oakland.  He waits till he's near his work, through the tunnel in the burbs.  He does this every month.  I heckle him.  We laugh.

So today as I shared a little about Winter's Bone he starts talking about driving through the Ozarks and being nervous and then finally coming to a friend's house in the middle of nowhere.  Erect in his seat, eyes wide, smiling, Jimmy then said the following: 

"I was scared.  I was from California and everyone could tell.  I didn't have a mullet. I didn't have a koozie. I didn't have a mustache. I didn't ride a Harley and I had to ask why everything in the house and on the property was spray-painted, chained, and padlocked.  It was because the meth-heads get all hopped-up and come down from the hills and steal everything and it's easier to identify your car or your washing machine if you have spray-painted your name on it."  

I grabbed a pen and a napkin and wrote that one down.  True story folks.

Monday, January 10, 2011


There's a certain perversion in holding a piece of photo paper and having one's past stare back...seeing the eyes of a you that no longer exists, a 12 or 20 or 30 year old Mer who in my mind's eye has become sanded soft and distant, safe even. And then there she is, two dimensional but slightly animated nonetheless, present in some sort of perverted resurrection. It fucks with the mind, jolts one back to a place that maybe one need not or should not go.