Monday, October 1, 2018

Tuesday 4 August 1998

It's morning before work and I'm at “Patty Kakes” restaurant, a place I've walked by many times. It's connected to Patty's Retreat bar, the kind of place where Irish is a euphemism for alcoholic. A lot of old guys here, not necessarily alcoholics, but men. Everything about this place is wrong, from the mismatched chairs, to the seriously stained old brown carpet, to the orange tables placed in dehumanizing rows, to the ugly dropped ceiling painted brown, to the only décor: travel posters that are so faded and wrinkled that they make every place look as ugly as this place. Japan, Canada, Venice, China, Greece, San Francisco, Yugoslavia, Mexico, France, Germany. (Alt. order: Germany, France, Mexico, China, Greece, Japan, Canada, Venice, Yugoslavia, San Francisco.) Who'd want to go there? Not when you can just stay here, in Little Ireland.

Sitting at each of the tables against a wall is an old man—some really old, some made prematurely old by alcoholism. I'm the youngest one here—the oddball—but no one acts like they notice—we're all sitting with our backs to the wall, facing the middle of the room, the empty tables, each other. A couple of the old guys talk to each other—they probably see each other every day, yet they don't sit together. Some of them live at the residence hotel upstairs, and another up the street—places with nautical names, The Commodore, The Admiral's Nest, etc.

A big, noisy fan is on, everyone is smoking except me, and the men who talk, talk about the heat even though they still haven't got the feeling back in their limbs since last winter. It's just wishful thinking, an actual heatwave here in Portland, Maine, dying like they are in Dallas this summer. I was in a used bookstore yesterday and a young man & woman were in there complaining about the heat—it's 180 degrees everywhere you go, she said bitterly, not realizing, of course, that 180 degrees doesn't mean “really, really hot,” but “turned around in the opposite direction,” or a “complete reversal.” It's this kind of abuse of the common language that I have to endure every day. No, I'm just kidding. I find that kind of thing endearing—it's just a matter of not thinking things through. It doesn't get on my nerves nearly as much as abbreviating, leaving words out, and especially using adjectives as nouns. That's what gets me to being homicidal. All this complaining about the heat, though, it just cracks me up. It's not hot here. Someone said, after about the third straight day it hit the nineties—“I had enough of this, already.” Right! Bring on that 10 month winter!

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