Chalk it up to it being the day before Halloween in an anxious world, the strange encounter with a man as I walked up the steep road coming out of the woods of Rock Creek Park by Dumbarton Oaks; I talk with my mom, my iPhone earbuds in, and the man, homeless perhaps, a frightening strongly built man I had seen before with his small backpack walking with dark almost murderous intent, turns, walks back down the steep road toward me, comes up to me quickly. He closes in. He pushes me, with his right hand out straight. "Aggressif!" he shouts, "too aggressive," pushing me strongly on the chest, "too loud!" "Too loud." He pushing me again. "I am soldier!" He stares at me. Pushes me again. "I'm sorry," I tell him. I wasn't aware I was being overly loud. I couldn't understand what he was saying earlier. Earlier I'd taken him as a local Euro functionary diplomat, reasonably dressed. maybe asking for directions. Acid washed jeans, running shoes, short hair, indeed, the build of a soldier. I have to get to work, last day of the work week. I get to work, tell the story to a few co-workers... get set up, no time to waste.
I have a nice conversation with a kind woman who's come from an art gallery. We end up talking about learning about New York State history, learning through reading about interesting content, about her journal, about blood type, about the ruined attention spans of the digital age, the kitschy make-a-splash quality into venues that used to be readable, The New Yorker, the New York Times Sunday Book Review, kitsch reviewed by kitsch.
And I finally, nerves still jangled, end up in a bar talking with another gentleman bartender, who takes off on an interesting note, "bartenders are sacred to people, they'd bail you out of jail..." So sacred that no one's ever really written about them, done a movie... I have a shot of Frenet with him as I finish my pinot noir before two o'clock and mount my mountain bike to ride home.
When one is tested, faces strange suddenly hostile circumstances, it allows a bit of reflection on life, strangely summed up in random conversations that prove there is indeed meaning to life. I reflect on how right and decent I've been to be a hardworking barman which is a lot of work and a job important to people particularly as we lose touch with each other, drawn away by the things of work and keeping up with things digital. The barman's space, indeed, is encroached upon, but there will always be bars, always have been on this planet earth.
And sadly I reflect too on the hidden prejudice, that tacit creation of deviancy out of anyone who listens, in tune with a self, dares to be himself, slightly different from the main stream. And the perpetrators will come as well from those who most ask for fairness and protection who claim to already be mistreated, more deserving of rights, and their claim to such truth is also Kafkaesque and bureaucratic and impenetrable and impossible to shake, as it is a vague claim, operating by its vagueness. I was slightly different, listening to myself, a good solid person, and one thing was made out of another.
But I went on, and survived all that, and wrote a book about it, a darn good and true one, even if it was too male to be in style, as old time Irish music is not all the popular rage of the internet now, and then became a decent person anyway, however poor and demoralized.