Nashville, TN, late April, 2012

At work I caught wind of an upcoming house show at a place called “The Other Basement,” a reference to the record store and venue “The Basement.” None other than Dave Cloud would be playing there with his band Dave Cloud and the Gospel of Power, as well as another group manned by two guys from the coffee shop.

Lewis and I had some beers in our living room while we waited for Abe to come pick us up. I had that very Freudian feeling where I wanted to get ripped and plunge into the shit just for the fun of seeing what could happen—a drive that manifests itself less and less as I grow older and more sage, I note with some nostalgia. It seems to me that a great deal of what constitutes maturity is a realization that our impulses are misguided, certainly the way we follow them is misguided. But what should one do? And as we “grow,” do new, more reasonable impulses replace the old ones, or rather do we just become more internally conflicted, our desires contradicting each other more than they did before, our natures at odds with themselves? That’s what I wonder about from time to time.

Anyway, it was clear that a little dis-inhibition was what I wanted; I had been plugging along efficiently and living, if not equanimously, at least more so than I had been before, in New York. But is any of this true? That’s what I thought, then, but now I’m not sure.

When Abe came we had a couple of more beers and then set out. We had trouble finding the place because all the houses looked as if normal families lived in them, they didn’t have that “house show” look to them, but eventually Julie just came out and found us in the car.

We went around to the backyard and found a big group of people standing around a small fire. The house had a garage in the back that served as a basement—hence, The Other Basement—and I peered in and saw a drum set and some amplifiers. Many of the major characters from work were there, as well as some of the minor ones, customers and employees alike.

Dave Cloud was there of course, along with another middle-aged man who I assumed was his band mate. In the youthful, hip crowd, these two middle-aged men certainly stood out. Dave was dressed in a black, striped suit, looking rather solemn and serious, though nothing could have been farther from the truth. He was spinning his usual yarns about fund-raising projects and movie script ideas to a group of young girls, all coffee shop regulars. I caught him make a remark about using drugs and then one of the girls, a German exchange student, took out a pill bottle. I got excited but it was only weed, kid’s stuff. Dave rolled a joint with it, making remarks in a German accent. “Next time you’re all invited to Tora Bora to burn up a big fat nugget of marijuana. You won’t know what hit you,” he said to all of us. Julie explained that Tora Bora was the name for his house down the street from the coffee shop. The German exchange student was gossiping about another girl who wasn’t there, some relationship drama I gleaned. “Women,” Dave’s band mate said, caustically, then he mumbled something else. “What’s that?” I said. “I’m just so bitter, I don’t even care anymore.” Decidedly, he was not as genial as Dave.

In order to dis-inhibit myself, I needed a beer. Abe wasn’t drinking that night but offered that I follow a few of his philosophy friends who were headed to the gas station. Among them was Stan, whom I’d met before at Café Coco. “So you’re all in the philosophy department?” I said as we walked through an alley to the main street. “Yes, we are sad, crying clowns,” Stan said.

The performance was entertaining, but I’m not going to get into so-called music journalism. Some of it I videotaped with my phone, it’s a shame that phone doesn’t work anymore. In between acts a young girl in Abe’s department showed up with a few of her friends. They had all been on a day-long bender to celebrate her birthday. Abe looked at me and said, “She’d—”

No, I can’t go on, this is starting to feel tedious.

The following morning I woke up feeling—not surprisingly—out of sorts: hung-over, nauseous, in pain. Spiritually, I was okay, but not great. I reflected that it was strange—yet somehow, a basic truth—that debauching myself, and of course creating all this discomfort, was a form of necessary maintenance, a reorientation if you will towards whatever is self-destruction’s opposite.

Nashville, TN, a day in April, 2012

keenan

On Saturday evening, in a self-consciously symbolic gesture, I thoroughly cleaned my room. Uncluttered room, uncluttered mind.

“Everyday is new,” I told myself on Sunday morning, taking in my clean room. Truthfully, I didn’t feel very different than before, when things were messy.

That afternoon I went to the coffee shop, thinking it would be pleasant and lighten my mood to get out and be among people.

The front porch was packed with students recently back from their spring break, smoking and talking. Inside there was a long line of them. I ordered, chatted with the staff a bit, and walked to the gas station to buy cigarettes while they made my food. I smoked a cigarette out there on the porch, waiting. The crowd was getting to me. All that week it had been much calmer, with the students away, and I had intended to enjoy a peaceful moment, perhaps chat up some regulars, and puff away at my cigarette. Instead I was ill at ease. There were attractive girls everywhere it seemed, indifferent to my presence, don’t ask me why. Up until that point I had spent the weekend more or less with myself—tiring company admittedly yet anything but indifferent—and now myself was beginning to make me uncomfortable, if such a thing is possible, and it is. The crowds of attractive people agitated me, disconcerted me, as if they were rubbing my nose in the shit of their complacency. One can respond to this sort of thing with disdain or aloof superiority, which in a sense is appropriate, but I was feeling particularly out of sorts, persecuted by loneliness. It seems to me I’ve said that before, or thought it. Here were the prosecutors, these young, unburdened and self-satisfied students. Other people are always the problem in this way (though where would we be without them?), they put solitude into an unfortunate perspective.

Yet in the end this afternoon indulgence in self-pity did me some good because I began working with renewed fervor, and even wrote what would eventually become this. And I admit that having lived this text and moved past it, only to return to it now, it does seem to me a little excessive, but one can’t help how one feels, especially how one felt.

Drawing by Keenan Julies

 

Nashville, TN, April 1, 2012

Writing about going to work and other quotidian things is beginning to feel tedious, I wonder if reading about it is too, certainly living it is tedious, tedium all around. Sadly, that’s all I’ve got. With that in mind, after a contemplative walk up to Lover’s Circle, I sat down at my desk to do some serious writing and plumb the depths (it’s not that deep, I’m young after all) of my past for some inspiration. I looked over an essay I’d finished and sent it off to Stewart, then began reading over my latest story, but stopped after a few sentences. Sometimes reading myself is a real chore, you better believe that churning out these Intimate Thoughts every week is no picnic.

An idea for a new story occurred to me but upon reflection it was just another veiled return to the trauma of my last breakup, and god knows I’m sick of that. The following Intimate Thought came to me: what I needed was a new relationship, followed by a terrible breakup (this latter part almost being more important); then there would be new material.

Arriving at work I felt ruffled and out of sorts. It is a shock to be with one’s self all day, to go about in solitude, then be obliged to deal with masses of people ordering coffee. My social faculties seemed to have temporarily left me, and I wondered if I came across rude. One woman, a rather large one with her breasts displayed for all to see, treated me with unwarranted skepticism when I took her order, as if she didn’t understand the basic procedure. I wondered if I had behaved strangely or tactlessly in some way, but Jane confirmed that she had been acting odd. Some people just haven’t been socialized properly, it seems. Jane did point out, however, that on other occasions she observed me missing the mark with customers, and not just missing the mark but the customers being totally baffled by me, a total disconnect in other words. You’re an acquired taste, she said. That’s right, I can’t help who I am, I said, just like some cheeses can’t help what they are. You’re right, she said, that’s what makes you who you are.

But despite the consoling truth in this truism—that one can’t help help who one is, etc. (“One is what one is, partly at least,” Beckett)—I felt troubled because the écart between who I think I am (or was) and what I actually am, as if the latter can be known, is assuredly a far deeper gulf than what I imagine it to be, or can even can conceive it to be.

But in the end, one can only reach the conclusion that there’s nothing to be done. I soon forgot the matter.

Nashville, TN, February or March (?), 2012

I had the day off so I planned on getting a number of things done. That’s how it always works, in the morning you start with high hopes and ambitious projects and the time quickly runs dry and before you know it the day’s been wasted, if such a thing is possible, a wasted day that is. In the morning I had breakfast with Lewis at the Elliston Place Soda Shop, biscuits with gravy. Classic Americana.

After that I biked downtown to go to the district attorney’s office. Apparently I replaced my totaled bike, I must have forgot to write about that. An interesting experience was ahead of me. A police officer leaving one of the government buildings directed me to the right place—the warrant screening office. I don’t know why, but I expected a cushy waiting room with nice chairs and magazines. Nothing of the sort. It was just an institutional looking room with metals detectors to pass through before you entered. I had to take a shit. The classic Americana cuisine can do that to me, it passes through like a flash flood. I noted the following written on the bathroom walls: “take a piss on Bin Laden” and “Nashville is Cracksville! Stinky Coons!”

In the waiting area there were a few people waiting to talk to the DA. Down one of the hallways a man, some sort of sheriff, was telling a long-winded story to another man. His southern accent was thick, and he spoke with enthusiasm, often laughing. Time passed and a man with a do-rag came in and sat next to me. By then we had filled out our paper work and handed it to someone in the office. It wasn’t exactly an environment where it was apparent what you were supposed to do. The guy next to me said, in reference to what they were doing in the office, “I guess they’re checking to make sure there aren’t any warrants on us!”

The sheriff was still telling his story. The man next to me was listening closely and remarked, “and he’s a sheriff!” I guess the guy had made some funny remark. I started paying closer attention and put down my book. My head was up my bookish ass, you might say, or rather, perhaps it’s my head that’s bookish, not my ass. Unfortunately I can’t remember anything from the story. If only!

A middle-aged woman arrived. She borrowed my cell phone to call her daughter to come and help her fill out the forms. It dawned on me that she couldn’t read, that’s why she needed help.

The man and the woman started complaining about the long wait. The woman was growing indignant because she felt she was doing the right thing, and instead of going ahead and fighting whoever was threatening her, she was getting a warrant out instead. She mentioned that the person in question was a woman…the whole thing involved an ex-husband, some infidelity I imagine…the details were vague. I didn’t know whom she was addressing, me or the other gentleman, or no one in particular.

The gentleman next to me, who was truly a genial fellow (I should have chatted with him more) explained that someone had put a restraining order on him but had contacted him after the order. He showed me the document and indicated the date, then showed me a text sent to him from the man in question that was dated after the date on the forum. Was he vying for my sympathy? I didn’t know. Maybe people just speak freely in these settings. And why not? All in all, it was far more enjoyable than waiting to see the doctor, or the dentist.

The DA was of little use. She didn’t have the police record yet; and besides, it was probably a civil matter anyway, out of her jurisdiction. She sent me to central records. There for 90 cents I easily obtained the report. I noted with satisfaction that the officer had written, with regards to the driver, “careless and erratic driving.”

The man’s contact info was there for me. I thought I might as well give it a shot. He did answer his phone, but when he discovered who I was, he promptly hung up. I had to make several phone calls to figure out where to go next. Meanwhile I overheard a real sob story; a young woman with a small child had been driving without a license, but she was taking her daughter, who had liver cancer, to the doctor. That’s more or less what was said, I paraphrase verbatim. She was talking to a man in a suit, an icy fellow who wasn’t exactly moved by the narrative.

I walked across the street to a large building. This one was expansive and vast inside and there were several metal detectors by the entrance, as if the foot traffic there was really high, even though I was the only one. It was like a Kafka story, and I was Herr. D, confronting the Law in all its grandeur. I explained what I needed to do to the security guy. I was in the wrong place, and he gestured to the building across the street. I was confused because someone else had told me to go across the street when I had been across the street—so I was across the street, in effect. I asked him to clarify. The white building, he said. I pointed out the window. My view was somewhat obstructed, and there was a building I knew wasn’t the right building getting in the way of the building that might have been the white building, I wasn’t sure. That one? I said, pointing in that direction, still unsure. The white building across the street, he said. The one over there, I said, pointing where I thought he meant. Yes, the white building across the street. Just think white building, he repeated several times as I walked away.

I easily found the white building and made my way to the civil court area. Filling out the required forms was a breeze. I questioned the clerks. What are my chances, I asked? I had to pay 100 dollars to file the suit. They couldn’t say really; they weren’t legal experts, but my case seemed solid. But, they explained, it is easy for a judge to decree that I have the right to the $450 (plus the court fee), but it is another matter forcing the defendant to pay. More headaches. What is it like? I asked. Have you seen Judge Judy? they said.

Nashville, TN, late February, 2012

The following day at work I was scheduled with—I remember this time—Denis and a girl who goes by “Blonski.” Denis is a drifting guy…he’s lived in Nashville for half a year, and before that he lived in several other cities in the south, moving around on whims, just for a change of scenery. You have to admire that. Who has the courage to do that these days? It shows a disregard for careers, relationships, and stability—the shit everyone wants, or is supposed to want. To be willingly adrift in the confused miasma of contemporary life, and not suffocate, that’s something.

Blonski grew up on Long Island, which showed—more than she thought, I thought. Her accent was closer to mine than any southern or Midwestern accent I’ve heard, and she lacked the warmth of southerners whom I’ve met. In fact from the point of view of warmth, she left something to be desired. Her demeanor seemed to say: ‘don’t get up in my shit.’ She told me she was moving to NYC in a week or so, so we talked about that. But even with the ice thus broken, having found something to talk about, she still had a defensive air about her. At one point she was talking with Denis, relaying an anecdote about someone who had called her ‘granola.’ This was a lighthearted conversation they were having, it seemed to me. I put in that the she definitely wasn’t ‘granola,’ though her earth-brown pants might be misleading. To this innocent remark she retorted “you don’t know me,” and I realized she was offended somehow. That was it, I soured to her after that, am still soured to her in fact, in my memories, and I felt glad that she was leaving soon.

Later that night I went to dinner with Lewis, Abe, and Martin. We quickly settled into an easy rapport. At Brown’s Diner the waitress wouldn’t let Lewis order a BBQ sandwich because they’re known for their burgers, not their BBQ. We got some laughs out of that. When I asked for a coffee after we’d ordered a pitcher of beer she said, “you’re going to have a wide-awake drunk.” I quote verbatim. It did pep me up more than expected and I found myself becoming loquacious.

I spoke of the situation with Marianne. What situation? Don’t worry about it. I had been getting text messages from her regularly, many of which used exclamation points! in an un-ironic way, and I wondered what to do or say. We joked that maybe sending her a dick pic would be the best way to determine what she actually wanted from me. That’s the kind thing that eventually comes up when guys get together and drink, what can I say. This thought experiment of sorts gave me the idea for this.

At the bar we ran into a group of Spanish graduate students, some from Spain, other from South America, whom Abe knew. They insisted that he stay for another drink with them, but he was too tired. Everyone was too tired, except for me on account of the coffee. They seemed like good, lively company so I stuck around. Santiago talked about literature and Latin American cinema with me. We discussed our admiration for Beckett. Great conversation. Eventually, filled with beers, I scouted the scene for girls. One can’t always remain on a higher plane, the baser exigencies beckon. Unfortunately I encountered that eternal dilemma, that is, I realized I was not quite drunk enough to not feel like, what’s the word, a complete idiot, if I started talking to strangers. And built into this phrase is also the implication that if I got drunk ‘enough,’ then I would be acting like an idiot all the same.

So I did the mature thing, and went home. Perhaps me hitting on girls would have made a nice little passage, but just as the reader is probably growing tired of this sort of thing, so was I, so am I, since I am my own reader, in a sense.

Nashville, TN, February 21, 2012

The day after the accident I had to wake up early for an 8am shift. Even earlier, given that I had to walk. I was working with Annie and—and I can’t tell you who, not only do I forget her fictitious name, but also her real name, and her gender, he might have been a man, who knows. Perhaps there wasn’t even another person, and in a sense there wasn’t.

The days, or those days I should say, or maybe I mean both, were starting to blend together, even in light of my accident, which was a punctuating sort of event. I wondered: is very little happening, or am I just not paying enough attention? Same question for the present. The trouble with keeping records is that you realize how very little happens, that’s why it’s difficult to sustain the effort.

I told my bicycle accident story to Annie, not without some hesitation, however, because I didn’t want to seem to be vying for pity. Yet it might have been strange not to mention something like that; that could betray an excessive and self-conscious modesty, which is definitely a form of egoism worth avoiding—assuming I would have been conscious of the modesty, and I would have. I was vying for empathy, that’s it, or better yet sympathy; not pity, certainly not apathy. And also, simply, I was vying for an opportunity to tell a story, that can be enjoyable and it is, supposedly, what I do, here for instance.

After work it was laundry time, a chores as always, especially since I had to walk to the laundromat, not that I would have taken my bike, had I had it. Thankfully (thankfully!) along the way a very southern gentleman also doing his laundry picked me up in his truck and drove me there. I don’t know if my mom would approve of me getting in a stranger’s car, I joked. He guffawed.

I used to haul my laundry on foot just like you. And then for a while my girlfriend did it for me. Wish I still had that girlfriend! he said.

You’re telling me, I said.

Nashville, TN, February 19, 2012

The days following my diagnosis I felt out of sorts and depleted. I seemed to drift about, desultory, fatigued. As I said, I’m nearly always out of sorts, but not always depleted. This was probably a result of being sick, but I also attributed the malaise to metaphysical woes, that’s more my style. It seemed my body was giving up on me, it still seems that way sometimes. It can’t keep on like it used to.

I had a training to go to in the midst of all this, Coffee 101. I took my bike and made it to downtown. Then on 2nd Ave something hit me from behind. Suddenly I was on the pavement, watching my bike get dragged up the street by a Jeep. I felt deflated, just as the back tire was deflated, to be sure. I stood up and quickly felt that I wasn’t hurt. Except metaphysically, metaphysically I was wounded.

An argument with the driver ensued. He took an inordinate amount of time to get out of his car or even roll down the window, even while a young man in the back seat apologized. In retrospect I was not as hard on him as I should have been, might have been, would have liked to have been. I’m the not the assertive, masculine type—though neither am I dainty, don’t give it a second thought. The thought even crossed my mind that I may have been partially to blame, although I couldn’t see how. My conscious felt guilty, and surely I was guilty of something, in the grand scheme of my life. Ultimately we didn’t really get into it. A cruiser arrived and spoke to us individually. That is the cop who came out of the cruiser. He seemed to take my side, and mentioned that the driver, in addition to being cited for driving without insurance, was receiving a number of other citations. A menace to the road, in short.

Abe picked me up and took me to a bike store, where they confirmed that my bike was totaled. When I finally got home I lay down in bed. I had had intentions of running errands and going to the gym, but I didn’t have it in me. Lying down in the middle of the day always seems like an admission of defeat, but I was defeated.

Nashville, TN, Feb 18, 2012 (Swimmer’s Ear Part II)

My ear was aching when I woke up after my amorous night with Marianne. Wait, there was a woman in my life, at this juncture? She came and went, a flash in the pan if you will, don’t worry about it. My head felt clogged up, my hearing was off. So after deliberating for a while I decided a trip to the doctor was in order.

I have been to a lot of doctors, all sorts of specialists, and for problems that were embarrassing more often than not, so I am seasoned, so to speak, at speaking with medical personnel. There’s a good tone to strike with them for the best results, I believe: firm and assertive, yet polite, and not lacking in sense of humor.

A medical assistant took my blood pressure, temperature, and pulse. I always ask how these figures are doing; the absence of commentary, for me, is not reassurance enough. She said my vitals were A-okay. The doctor came in promptly after that and took a look in my ears. Straight down to business. There was too much wax built up for her to see anything, so she called the assistant to flush my ears out. Fun was in store.

The first part of the procedure entailed putting drops of fluid into my ears that were left to soak for about 15 minutes while they helped break up the wax. Incidentally, the medical assistant informed me that the over-the-counter stuff I’d bought was useless, wasted money, wasted time. I ruminated over various things while I waited. I had the following Intimate Thought: if only neurosis could be cleared away as ear-wax can be cleared away. Maybe I should look into psychedelics, I thought.

The assistant used a syringe-like devise to shoot warm water and peroxide into my ear canals to break up and dislodge the wax. It was a violent procedure and it produced a strange sensation in my head, whirling, swishing, swashing, and swooshing. She had considerable difficultly getting out the wax. You’re one of the most difficult cases I’ve seen, she said. You don’t know the half of it, I said.

I was patient throughout it all, and though it was violent, in a sense, it wasn’t actually painful. The assistant was pleasant to talk to and she cracked a joke now and then. If only I was better at remembering conversations. As I said I pride myself on my manners with medical professionals. One has to have at least some points of pride. For her I aired on the side of reticence, but let fall the occasional humorous remark.

When all was said and done, it turned out I did have an infection—I was a victim of the common affliction, swimmer’s ear.

Nashville, TN, February 17, 2012 (Swimmer’s Ear)

Friday morning I rode my bike to Bongo Java so I could catch my assistant manager and ask her about scheduling, but she wasn’t there. Tate, a young guy from Belmont whom I worked with once, was behind the counter and he gave me a free cup of coffee. I sat and read until I felt hungry and then I got a refill of coffee and an egg sandwich.

I smoked a cigarette with Tate while he was on his break. I was calm, relatively. The weather was fine. I breathed deeply and enjoyed the feeling of the cool air and the sunlight.

I asked Tate what his plans were after he graduated college. That’s one of those things you ask about. He explained that he wants to move to—no, I can’t go on, that’s his business. But I know that life sometimes throws you curve balls, he said. You better believe it, I replied.

I went swimming after that and pumped iron. I experienced the same philosophical dilemmas detailed in another post, which prevented me from really pumping to my max. When I got out of the pool my left ear was filled with water, and it wasn’t going to come out. I had even used ear plugs, to no avail.

Back at home the house was empty. There was a text on my phone from Lewis saying he’d be back in a few hours, then we would get dinner and go to the bar to get ripped.

I wasted time on the computer and a few times in the bathroom tried pouring alcohol into my stuffed-up ear, to no avail. I probably masturbated too, I have no specific memory of an onanistic moment, but that seems like something I would have done. I know myself, in that respect. When Lewis got back I renewed the effort. Unclogging my stuffed-up ear, that is. First I had him pour more alcohol into it—perhaps he might have more luck getting it in the right spot. It occurred to me that since the alcohol hadn’t helped before, perhaps all I was doing was making it worse. I pushed this worry aside. All that came of it was that rubbing alcohol splashed on the side of my face and in my hair.

After that, Lewis had the idea that we needed to use some kind of device to assure that the alcohol got where it needed to go, namely, into the ear canal. By now I admit I was troubled that copious amounts of alcohol had already been poured, to no avail. I was beginning to feel pain.

In a small sandwich bag with a hole poked in the corner Lewis poured some alcohol. This time I lay on the floor and he used the bag to aim. I waited for a few moments while the alcohol sat in my ear canal. Relief will come as soon as I sit upright, I thought. Nothing of the sort. There were some noises in my head, a little sloshing and swishing, but my hearing remained just as impaired, if not more.

I consulted several ehow pages in hopes of discovering different remedies. One suggested gargling with salt water. It didn’t make sense to me how that would change anything, but I tried it. Another page suggested using vinegar, so using the same make-shift device, Lewis poured vinegar into my ear as I lay down on the floor of my room. This also did nothing, and may have made it worse. It certainly stank.

I resolved to let it go—the water would make its way out naturally, in due time. I had to hurry up and wait, as the saying goes. But I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. Finally, in a fit of sheer desperation, I went to the drug store to see what they had to offer. I procured an ear wax clearing solution, speculating that my ear wax was trapping the water in there. I consulted the pharmacist, but she had no advice to offer that wasn’t already on the internet. Scary times we live in, when the internet is just as helpful as a real person.

First I tried the ear wax removal solution. This entailed putting it in the effected ear and lying down for about five minutes while the stuff helped loosen things up. When I stood up fluid seemed to be pouring out of my ear, but I couldn’t be sure if it was just the original solution, or liquefied wax. I felt underwhelmed. But trying to stay optimistic, I reasoned that this was merely step one—there was no longer wax blocking the water, but that water still needed help getting out. So Lewis got his make-shift alcohol dropper and doused my ear a second time. It was a failure and not only that, the pain was worse.

I felt defeated. Instead of going out for dinner, we ordered a pizza, and after eating I went to bed early.

Nashville, TN, a night in February, 2012 (Tender Moments)

At work yesterday a woman came in and invited everyone behind the counter to a gallery opening called “Tender Moments.” Her easy familiarity with my co-workers led me to infer that she was a regular and knew the staff well, except me, naturally. She explained what it was: Polaroid photos taken by her boyfriend of parties and things like that. Polaroids, I thought, were more or less played—didn’t they know that down here? But I told her I would come. I didn’t have anything else to do, and there would be free booze and snacks.

It was a short distance away, so I took my bike. Cruising along, I hardly felt I was in a city. But I was, I was in an urban sprawl. I took Edgehill to Chestnut. These are real roads, believe me, and they’re probably still there. Chestnut was barren and silent, with a few warehouses here and there and some light traffic. The road was slick with rain. The gallery space was a small building on a corner next to some train tracks. It was like a David lynch movie, perhaps Lost Highway. Pick-up trucks and SUVs were parked outside and some people were standing around smoking cigarettes.

Inside there were only a few people milling about. There certainly wasn’t anyone I recognized, other than the girl who had invited me. We greeted each other, exchanged pleasantries. I got a beer and some snacks. Holding my plate and the beer while also looking at the photos proved too difficult, so I snacked a while before I took a serious look at the art. Everything in due time. What are you supposed to do at an opening anyway? I wondered. I did my best to look thoughtful.

The photos proved to be more or less what I expected. With a few exceptions, I’d seen it all on Facebook before, mostly during 2006 and 2007. However, some of the staged photos were surprising, such as one that featured a little girl with blood splattered over her face. I’d never seen that on Facebook.

People were steadily arriving. One of the girls from work came up and greeted me. I was slowly becoming drunk. Still more people arrived, including Jay, you may remember him. I reached the state of inebriation where, how should I put it, libidinous considerations began guiding my thinking. God knows it doesn’t take much. There were a lot of good-looking girls walking around admiring the photos.

Mingling around the crowd, occasionally talking with Jay or Sam, and smoking cigarettes outside, I began to feel awkward. Was I imposing myself on these strangers? One might say, this was a great opportunity to meet people. I did meet a few people, and if they had made future appearances, in the story of my life that is, I would have remembered them (but none of them did, I can tell you now). The following Intimate Thought occurred to me: my lonely and lascivious soul was making it difficult to feel like my friendly small talk wasn’t charged with insidious motives. I was what they call a loaded gun, forgive the vulgarism.

I realized gradually that this was a hip event, that important people were there, and that I was hanging with an elite, artsy crowd. Sam informed me that two girls – two girls who I noted were among the better looking girls there – were a popular local duo that played comedy music. Of more note, a pink-haired woman turned out to be Harmony Korrine’s wife; she was there with their daughter. It was a moment where Nashville became very much a “somewhere,” as Walker Percy would say, rather than an anywhere.

I left, unceremoniously, why would there be any ceremony, it’s not as if anyone particularly cared whether I was there or not. I had been talking with two girls about writing, but when I went in to pee, they must have left, because they weren’t there when I got back. Had I made a bad impression? I tried not to worry about it. I wanted something exciting to happen. If I had had drugs I would have taken them to make things interesting.

I rode my bike to the Villager to have a drink, a last ditch effort for some entertainment. I took a seat in the back and watched people playing darts.

Closest to me was a middle-aged man and a girl in her twenties who, come to think of it, was the girl from the vintage store. Not the pretty one, but the unremarkable one, except for the red hair. A track from Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets came on and the man wondered what it was. I called out to him that it was Eno. He hadn’t heard of Eno’s solo stuff. I sat there, realizing that it had been a stupid idea to come. I had expected that someone would notice me there, looking lonely and introspective, and strike up a conversation. Nothing of the sort. Later on “Baby’s on Fire” played on the stereo, and I told the same man that this was one of my favorites and that it featured Robert Fripp. He recognized Fripp’s name—did he play with King Crimson, he asked? You better believe it, I said. He gave me a fist pound. “Do you like Eno?” I said to the girl. She didn’t know him. She responded off-offhandedly, even dismissively, not only as if she didn’t already know me from the vintage shop, but as if she didn’t care to know me. I burned with indignation.

It was time to leave. On my way out I overheard part of a conversation about group sex and that got me even more riled up and frustrated. On the whole, the night was underwhelming, like so many nights.