Something's gotta give. What will it be? Tell me, poot -- will it be the square peg in the round hole? Or all's well that ends well? Nothing's ever as bad as others make it out to be, nor as good as you imagine it in the wildness of your heart. You think it'll be stimulating, to squirt whipped cream onto your lover's belly and lick it off. So you do it, excited as hell. Then you find out that it's fairly boring, and that sex is so much more satisfying when you leave the whipped cream out, when it's just two bodies, coming together. Nobody wants your job, your job sucks, but you need the money, otherwise you're gonna go hungry. So it's food first, then sex. You're not looking for luxuries these days, cause you need the basics -- cereal, light bulbs, underwear, soda. You need this job. Those arseholes in DC aren't gonna do anything about the economy, they're too busy watching out for their own assets. You're on your own. Sure, they talk about growth but that’s got nothing to do with you. Even if they lose an election, they've still got it made in the shade, what with the corporations and courts on their side. Maybe not whipped cream but a little honey on the lips, just a dab, will do you nice when you get down to it, a real taste treat, something you'll remember for a good long while, when you're stewing in your own juice in a darkened motel room somewhere, waiting for a tow. Car’s useless when you’ve been in a wreck. Hell, you can barely afford gas anyway. Something’s gotta give. Without a car you can’t keep a job up here.
The other night I went out for drinks with my good friend Chris. We sat by the window at the Breslin Bar in the Ace Hotel, Twenty-ninth and Broadway, on a hot and humid New York night, the kind the Lovin' Spoonful sang about back when we were innocents. Chris has been holed up in Philadelphia and not liking it. “Everybody in Philadelphia is from Philadelphia, they’ve all got the same history, it’s too provincial.” So here we were, a couple of blocks from Penn Station, working on gimlets in the Breslin, another musty old-time joint appropriated by the after-work, on-the-make, wannabe hipster crowd, shouting inanities at each other, all happily accustomed to their own brand of fatuousness, their own stink, their own practiced postures. Hey, who cares if we're all arseholes, as long as I keep my nose up my own?
In a joint like this, everyone’s desperate to get laid, even virtually, desiring any sensation that clues ‘em in to the fact that they’re alive. Chris and I sat there and tried to talk to each other over the din, two guys in our fifties still lookin for an authentic self among all the ones we’ve worn and shed, like a couple of crones pickin through the bins in a button shop. Amid the roar, we heard the kids yellin at each other about soccer and the Yankees, about their weekend plans and the couplings and uncouplings taking place among their friends. It was all hyper-convivial, hysterical really, with spit flying and eyes bulging. Quist used to say, “You can’t go broke sellin booze. Especially when times are bad.”
Hey, people are gonna talk about what they’re gonna talk about, whether or not the shite is real or made up. It’s a way of creating a persona, testing out a self, same as Facebook. We’ve been there. Hell, we’re in our fifties and we’re still there. You think you know who you are, then you look backward at who you’ve been and – whoops! – there goes your true identity, running away from you, elusive as a fox. You set off to chase down the fox. You run and you run but you’re always just behind him. Next thing you know, you’re lost in a dark wood, really lost, and it’s scary as hell in there. It’s the dark wood your grandmother told you about when you were lying in your sick-bed. Shh. The fox is somewhere nearby. You can’t see him. Listen. You hear something but you’re not sure it’s him. You begin to realize that you’ll never catch him. You’ll never know your true identity. You come to the point when you don’t even know if you’re the hunter or the hunted. You see that couple in the corner? You see that foursome over there? You see that big table across from the bar? Everybody checking each other out. Everybody with their own stink. This is who we are. Chris and I, we recognized ourselves. We’re not running, we’ve learned to accept the ambiguity. The fox in his den. We can do this because we’re not worried what the other person is thinking – we trust each other.
Something’s gotta give. It’s impossible for a body to go on like this, hung up on desire and the need for a job. You hear the voices of your family and friends, exhorting you to do better. Make something of yourself. Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration. You can run but you can’t hide. You know, helpful sayings like that. If you believe the idiots on TV, you can read books about exercising your brain and turn into a smarter, better person. Pretty funny, huh? But, even if it were true, you’d still be you. I know. What a drag.