Ow, ow, ow, Mr. Daffy is saying aloud as he leans back in his chair, his chin up, holding his martini glass Last Word gin cocktail up to his nose to savor it, as he listens to the music of the jazz trio. He had dinner downstairs. I don't know exactly how much he's had to drink, but in checking in on him he doesn't seem too badly off. His fancy leather motorcycle jacket is propped up on the chair next to him, and he has on his shiny red Prada slipper sneakers. He wants another one, and I go downstairs to check with my buddy coworker, who says, 'he can have half a one.' Okay. "Thank you, thank you," he is saying loudly as the trio finishes a song, as if he were the house emcee when I come back to the bar. But he is an uninhibited fellow, wealthy. Friendly, outrageous, likable, he says what's on his mind, not quite typical of Washington.
Back joining the bar with two lady friends after dining downstairs is an interesting Welsh woman, a round of Sambucca on the rocks. Her mum a Brit, her father came from Yemen, talking, telling stories, about how as a girl she'd go have dinner with the Fearnley's, Mrs. Fearnley putting supper together for 8 children, peas, eggs, beans, chips, how her own mother would tell her not to impose upon her Irish neighbor who had enough on her plate trying to feed everyone already, and a dinner of Bolognese at home was better anyway. She emphasizes, at her neighbor's, with her friend, she always got the same plate as everyone else. Good stories. Which, I, of Irish extraction, enjoy humoring. We all have a fun chat with her. She sounds like I'd imagine Amy Winehouse might have in conversation, a little bit. We'd been talking about diet, what her tastes for certain kinds of food, her no longer craving meat, getting her protein from fava and other beans, and guess what, she's Type A blood.
After she leaves, as the place clears out, the musicians somehow understanding, quietly waving as they leave down the stairs into the night with their cases and equipment, the wise mild Englishman with glasses, whose been there at the end of the bar the whole night, sort of chuckles how I engage with the crazies more than I might. If I had more reserve.. but believe me, I try. Hospitality is a hard thing to turn off. "Yes, I remember the bartender at Harry's Bar in Paris..." Monsieur Jacques did not talk much, a white jacketed professional betraying little emotion, simply duty, nodding when taking an order. Indeed, it can seem like the only sane people in the room are the ones who are waiting on people, encountering all the shows, the struts, the self-importance that breeds worldly wealth and importance.
The crazies, do I attract them? It is the jazz, is it a full moon tonight? Am I one of them?
I talk to mom at the end of the night after eating my grilled salmon dinner. I listen to Morrissey, Every Day is Like Sunday, as I clean up the bar, alone now, after a long shift. I hit the Safeway a long block up and across the street before Ubering it back to where I live. Getting the groceries in, it took effort.
The day off I get up late. I rise and take a hot shower after doing the dishes from yesterday and the night's gluten-free pizza. I have my hot water with lemon, take a little tea, and limber by the hot water I perform my basic yoga poses and postures. Sun salutation. Shoulder stand. Plow, first time in a while, feet touching the floor above my head. Mountain, triangle, warrior poses. Headstand. Pigeon.
I need to see a little light before it gets dark, so I go for a walk. Down on the avenue it's rush hour, a trail of slow moving red tail lights. Walking slowly the back streets of Kalorama, finding a good interesting garden has been put to bed, everything cut low but for a little stand of kales, I call mom. The purple flowers like Black-Eyed Susans a company of bees hovered about busy collecting pollen when I was recovering like St. Francis from the operation has been cut down too. There are all kinds of crazies in education too, she tells me. I have a good job as far as the imagination goes, stimulating, more social than if I'd just stuck back home with a pickup truck and a dog. I walk slowly under the clear warm jewel-like sky. Cabdrivers have gathered on the back streets by the mosque, talking amiably with each other in their native tongues.
I cross the bridge, getting to the other side where the tall pines rise up to the bronze patina railings. Further up the VP's big green with white helicopter comes in over the woods beyond the bridge for a landing, descending.
I walk down the little pasture, the grass damp, the sparse trees at the edge of the park's wooded bank lit by embassy mansion's exterior lights and the passing car. I get the smell of the woods, the leaves building up now upon the lawn. It's dark now, too dark to go down to the stream.
I walk back, and there's a turkey on ezekial sandwich I made for myself a day ago for work waiting for me.
But it's no wonder to me that after the week I return to my quiet and my yoga and my books touching upon aspects of religion. Alan Watts lectures that when all humanity lived as a hunter, Type O, in the woods, able to do everything, hunt, cook, make weapons, mend, make shelter, on his own his spirituality was of the shaman type. (Perhaps this is the basis of the human wish for privacy, that it is left to him to figure things out on his own, to practice, to woodshed, to master whatever he does, as he must do it alone as far as mastering the skill. Thus the shyness, because of the nakedness of creativity, not wanting company when you're learning to sing a song. The more intense the shyness, the wish for privacy, the better the craft might be. Genius is, comes from, the solitary study and act.) Watts points out the progress of an individual's life in Indian society of old, that after being a homeowner householder, there comes the final phase of being a forest dweller, eventually thinking, after months of silence, without words. Do we return to from whence we came?
It seems a part of the job, to tolerate all the different forms of individual crazy that come out, ion beams, radiations, vocalizations, the individuality, the claims of each person as they live their lives and have dinner and wine at the bar. I'm a patient listener, friendly, simpatico.
It seems sometimes like it was that second jazz night shift that was a bit much to put up with, a bit too many personalities, a bit too much, like I say, crazy. It would then leave me not wanting to go out of the house, because if I did there would just be more of what I had so ably tolerated. Bistro Du Coin? No thanks. The forest had its appeal, even if you felt lonesome. It seemed as if the person with type O needed the quiet to recalibrate himself after his encounters with the modern world and the city his blood has difficulty comprehending, a survivor without urban credential. A caveman with verbal skills, a good glad-hander. The city makes little sense to him. Television, unless he's making it, makes little sense to him. The cell phone makes little sense to him.
And the people of other blood types, physiologically use to the agrarian and the city and conquering, have a huge leg up on the O. The male of the species, perhaps in particular, will feel the tension and the pressures upon him.
A glass of wine, the biblical soother.
It almost began to seem like one of life's bad choices, going to work. And yet it was, is, my job. On a night off I listen to soothing music meant for yoga and meditation, do some yoga, after a walk down to the stream in the twilight. I ease into exploring the mind away from dualities, away from outer labels, you are who you are, so why be pushed, why hurry about? Do your yoga and your headstand, and meditate. Relax into your true self; work has too many labels if you let it be so. Find that quiet person, thoughtful, redemptive, kind, not the animal who puts on a show, but the person who doesn't mind the downtime, the night alone reading. Accept. Be the sorrowful, the misunderstood, the un-listened to, meek, mild, mourning, poor. And in that way, unburden one's self from burdens, from illusions.
As the psychologist might point out in her theories, The Happiness Trap, just that, that trying to be happy is great burden. Just let that go. That's not what life's about. Life's lesson it to look beyond dualistic understandings and the appearance of multiplicity of that which is, undivided, whole, complete.
And religious literature, literature of the spiritual, talks about 'the dark night of the soul,' the obliteration of ego, that identity conditioned by the past to create the future. And I suppose such a thing could happen to a barman, who's worked that room of people clinging to pleasure, not that that is all that it is, as sometimes it can be that real confiding place, an exchange. Perhaps the dark night is a thing kept for people serious, focussed, about such things, students of that which is a deeper attempt to understand reality.