Look at those Cavemen go!
Feeling bored the other day I attended a “punk rock matinee” at the local institution of higher drinking. How these happen is the owner of the punk rock record store around the corner books three or four teenage bands to come bang the bangers and strum the strummers and they charge five bucks at the door and everyone gets pleasantly sauced and leaves in fine fettle.
At least, that’s what usually happens; this particular day, there seemed to be a grey pallor to the place when I arrived. The street had been closed off, I imagined to shoot the Hollywood movie that’s filming in the city, and the crowd at the pub seemed small and tense, which really threw me off balance. It probably shouldn’t have, but after the third person who said hello in nervous, distracted tones, like I was an uninvited and not particularly welcome guest at a funeral, I started feeling unwanted and unwashed. I started asking myself what I could have done, who I could have offended, and how. Did I post something stupid on Facebook, the modern equivalent of the back fence gossip network? Was the actual small town gossip network doing its business about me, yet again? Did I make a pass at someone who didn’t want me to? Do I just look surly as a mild depression has begun to set in?
So, I sat at the bar and nursed my pilsner, trying not to rub anyone the wrong way and feeling more than a bit upset by the cold shoulders I was receiving. These people don’t understand me. They don’t know the depths I contain, I tell ya! One of these days, when they don’t have Rufus to kick around anymore, they’ll miss me. That’s for sure!
But, I’ll miss them too… It got lonely on the barstool, so I walked over to my friend Jimmy and addressed him, instead of waiting for him to come over and talk to me. Jimmy is a mountain of a man who looks like he was expelled from the WWE for being too rough, but as is so often the case, is as gentle as a kitten.
“Hey, Jimmy, how’s it going?”
“You didn’t notice?”
“The cop cars. Some guys just got into a brawl out on the street. One of ‘em was this drunk asshole who came in here about twenty minutes ago. They kicked him out, so he went and started a fight with some guy on the sidewalk. Just beat the hell out of him. I don’t know, but there’s a lot of blood on the street and it really looks like the other guy is dead. Pretty fishin’ messed up, that’s for sure!”
It sunk in slowly like debris sinking to bottom of a cold pond. I felt a chill and the pains of nausea. Of course everyone looked like someone had walked over their grave; they’d all watched a savage beating take place that I had missed entirely and, at this point, most of them believed the recipient was dead in the street. It had not a whit to do with me.
Fortunately, he survived and his wounds were non-life threatening, as I learned the next day from the local paper. The drunk savage who beat a stranger half to death was described as a white male with the close-cut hair and neck tattoos that are de rigueur in this blue collar town that’s sort of the epicenter for the decline of culture in Ontario. The police interviewed several witnesses and a few might have given an accurate license plate number. Probably little will come of it.
Meanwhile, I settled back onto my bar stool and wondered why it seems so hard to perceive the world through a frame other than ourselves and our own existence. Our real significance pales in comparison to our assumed significance. Why is that so hard to remember?