He was tired. Tired and premature old, with gray hairs nestling about his temples and a few scars on the right side of his face showing battles against time.
He was fine with his job at the hippest of hip bank-turned-Walgreens of Wicker Park. He was fine chatting with the clerks behind the counter as he leaned against the “Concierge” desk that really meant night shift bouncer.
He lives in Lincoln Park. He said his kids liked it, which was the best he could offer.
He has a boy and a girl.
My friend and I moved on.
A few blocks later, another he talked cocktails. This he said he would make himself a perfect Old Fashioned, but that we could take a sip or two. He learned it in L.A.
He said L.A. is five years behind Chicago in terms of cocktails. They’re still experimenting with Curacao and egg whites, he said.
He talked about bitters and he talked about rye and he talked about the proper shape of ice cubes/shaves/spheres/chunks for individual drinks at a beer-and-burger bar he works at because his friend said it would be less stressful than GM-ing an L.A. hot spot.
The Old Fashioned was delicious, and I don’t like mixed drinks.
My friend and I moved on.
Meaning. We talked about meaning, but what the hell is that?
I gave three smokes to three bums outside one of the places. I bought the pack in a moment of weakness a day ago, but I plan to toss them out the window. A tall, slim man asked for one, and then I offered two more to his friends in case they wanted.
I did it to feel generous. I did it for me, not them.
We moved on.
Some people talk about meaning in life as if it’s the answer to a math question, one they know because they peeked at the back of the Book.
Others talk about it as if it’s a joking response to a question no one’s asking.
I think of it as knitting. You build meaning from the thin thread you’re given. You link circles that encompass nothing to form something practical, beautiful or ideally both.
Meaning. What the hell is that?
We talked about meaning. We talked about meaning and beauty, life, love, poetry and chicks we banged. We talked about everything and it was good.
He’s asleep on an air mattress in my guest room right now. I love this man more than I can ever properly say.
Meaning. What the hell, man? I don’t have any more answer now than I did 20 minutes ago when I started writing this screed.
I loved the tired man’s eyes only twinkling when he talked about his kids. I loved the bartender who lit up when talking about the perfect Sazerac. I even loved the bums when I made eye contact unasked.
Meaning. Ugh. I know what I call mine. My wish for us all is we find ours.
Good night. I love you too.
Someone found meaning in:
- A cash register
- A gag store
- A second-hand magic shop
- Twirling and whirling on a static trapeze
- Building art from used lotto tickets