Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Old Guy Bob

I don't read my email much, y'know.

I'm just one of them people that sorta hate having to check my email and non-e-mail and phone calls and door knocks and all that sorta shit.

I dunno why I'm like that, either, I mean, almost everybody I know is exactly the opposite, or at least seems to be, hell, theres a lotta people who seem to measure themselves with all that social networking crap, Queen Bees of their own little Social Interweb, with a few exceptions, like the other technically smartest and highest paid guy at the place I used to work, me and him were the only hairy apes in the whole place who didn't have cell phones.

Yah, well, whatever, cell phones belong in purses and the hands of small children, if ya ask me.

Yah, I check my Real Life Mailbox 'round 'bout once a week, which I've learned is just enough so that my mailman don't cut off my service, it took a few times of getting my postal service turned off before I found the Absolute Minimum Amount of Mailbox Emptying Required, y'know.

Only thing that comes by snailmail that matters nowadays is government stuff like license renewals and tax junk, y'know, but you do need to get that stuff or its a big headache, trust me heh.

So yah, I don't check my email much.

And even when I do check it out, I usually just this-is-spam all the spam that's in there, y'know, to clean it out, and I don't actually read anything.

But this last time I peeked in there, I saw something, something that said something with a title like "Sad News" goin' 'round 'tween all the people I used to ride the train with but don't anymore.

So I this-is-spam'd all the spam that was in there, y'know, to clean the place up, and I didn't read any of 'em at first, just like I usually don't.

Well, I dunno, mebbe I am some kinda asshole or whatever, man.

But something nagged at me about it, right before I was about to quit out of it.

And so I open one of 'em, one of those "Sad News" ones, y'know.

And I find out its basically an invitation to Old Guy Bob's funeral.

Yah, Old Guy Bob.

Old Guy Bob, my silver haired hilariously bad-mouthed smoking buddy, the guy that I used to wait for the train in the mornings with, the guy who just loved to say "its colder than a witch's tit out here" as an opener when meeting new people, the guy that trained me to make sure everybody else got safely to their car and got it started before heading home, the guy that used to be a mean drunk a million years ago before becoming all grandfatherized, the guy that gave me twenty bucks when I forgot my wallet at home so I could get something for lunch (which I gave right back to him at the end of the day, 'cause I'm originally from the country and although I've been trained to humbly accept such gifts with appreciation when pressed, its impossible for me to actually use a gift like that unless there's gunshots and blood involved), the guy who used to tell me "her husband is a really nice guy, you ever meet him?" when I was flirtin' with somebody too much, the guy who brought photos of himself partying with with his college buddy Leo Kottke when they were in their 20s to prove we looked like twins (after I looked him up on the internet and only found a picture of the guy looking more to me like Ricky Ricardo than anything), and then borrowed me some CDs of Leo Kottke's music on top of it, this guy had songs with names like "Vaseline Machine Gun" which is way the hell cooler than most of the shit people are makin' now.

Yah, that's how I met him, it was this weird Leo Kottke thing, Old Guy Bob was sitting on this window ledge, and I was new to riding the train downtown, no friends or anything, not talking to anybody, sleeping on the train mostly, or reading books, y'know, just like all the other Drones, and we were both smoking our asses off, preparing our nicotine stockpiles for the Big No Smoking Train Ride.

I was standing about twenty feet away from him, and he calls me over to him with something mildly apologetic, and he says I'm the spitting image of this guy he used to hang out with named Leo Kottke.

And I actually knew who Leo Kottke was, well, sorta, I mean, when I was tiny, I found my dumb uncle's acoustic-electric guitar packed away in an old forgotten closet at my grandparent's house, and inside the case there was a "Learn How to Play Guitar With Leo Kottke" pamphlet thingie from the 50s (or the 60s, or whatever, who gives a shit, really) in it, and nobody cared if I took it, so I did.

Prolly taught you how to play Greensleeves or something, if you were so inclined as to actually read the damn thing, but I don't really remember what it was all about, y'know, I mean, if it ain't Greensleeves then its either Stairway to Heaven or Some Damn Thing From Metallica Before They Started to Suck in all those "Learn How to Play Guitar With the Guitar Hero Guy" thingies, y'know, I do know that somebody in my family told me the guy was the King of the Twelve String Guitar, but it was there my vast knowledge of Leo Kottke finally comes to an end.

So anyways, Old Guy Bob is like a man possessed, insisting that I look exactly like this guy, and that its uncanny and all that twilight zone shit, y'know.

So when I got to work, I googled the bastard, not out of personal interest, but just to see exactly how crazy my new buddy Old Guy Bob was, really.

And somehow, don't ask me how, I got something that look like this picture, and I didn't even bother to look fer another one, I was so sure Old Guy Bob was totally off his rocker, y'know?

So the next morning, there's Old Guy Bob, sitting on his windowsill and smoking and waiting fer me as I walk up.

And I'm all delicate with him and fulla tact and a smooth operator and shit, as y'all know, and I say something like "dude you are totally off yer rocker I found a picture on the net and I don't think I look anything like Ricky Ricardo, man."

And he just laughs and says he'll bring some pictures of his own from home.

And the next morning he's got pictures of himself when he's in his twenties, and they're in color (damn they had color photos back then? heh), and they're all party pictures, everybody is drunk and happy and hugging on each other for support, and here's this big tall long-haired blond guy with a goatee and a big dumb country grin that looks exactly like me.

And I mean exactly like me.

Yah, I ain't had a goatee since I was in my twenties, 'cause all that damn thing ever did was make me look guilty before I even managed to commit any crimes, heh.

Yah, Old Guy Bob's Party Pics didn't look like anything I can find on the net, even now, which is sorta sad, y'know, 'cause Leo Kottke was (or mebbe is, heck, he may still be alive, he was the last time I checked, at least) way the hell more handsome than the net makes him out to be haha.

Anyway Old Guy Bob's pictures were so freaky they honestly made me consider the idea that my mom (or mebbe my gramma) had been sleepin' around with musicians or something heh.

But I'm supposed to be the spittin' image of my grandfather on my dad's side, too, and I seen the pictures to confirm that, and everybody can tell my brother is my brother and stuff, so I guess we're just based on the same model and we're just related somehow way back there in Europe or whatever.

Old Guy Bob was like "are you into music and stuff?"

And I was like "well, I used to be in a lot of bands, but that actually made me sorta end up hatin' music, y'know?"

And he laughed and told me about how he managed different famous bands and used to own a bar where bands played and all that shit, man I dunno how many times I've had old guys dump all that stuff on me, I get their stories all mixed up, and he tells me how he was all nasty in the old days, and how he used to be a mean drunk, but he didn't drink or anything anymore, and I was like "ah, yer wife got you to quit drinking with the good life with kids and all that shit" and he was like no, it was actually his dog that made him quit drinking by not peeing on the floor if he came home sober.

Which put us in the same boat, pretty much, although I'll drink with people if they beg me, about the only reason I'm not some horrible super villain is because my dog trained me to be a good person heh.

Old Guy Bob had a lot of kids, and a lot of grandkids, way the hell more than normal, and luckily he un-bastardized himself before they were born, so they loved him as much as he loved them, which is good.

He was married twice, and he didn't screw up the second time.

One of his grandkids is a killer basketball player that goes to state every year and won the first time, at least, scholarship shit, Bob always went to her games, and practically cried when he missed one, and she's a girl, cover of Chicago Tribune sports section, and she was mentioned in there more than once, beautiful blonde thing too, not all nasty with man-hands and big shoulders and stuff like you'd suspect.

Yah he was really proud of that shit, but he was proud of all his kids, he told me stories about all of 'em, hell, he even told me stories about all of their friends, some were sad, but most weren't.

Yah, see, Old Guy Bob practiced all his story-telling on me, it was this unspoken agreement we had, I dunno how it got to be like that, but he'd do his whole routine for the day while we were smoking, and then, when everybody else showed up, he do it all over again, but this time it'd be all polished, and that way I'd have time to get a few little quips worked out ahead of time, sometimes jokes, y'know, whatever was required to soften the blows or make 'em hit harder.

And Old Guy Bob even told me what to do when he died.

Yep, see, wise guys like us can't be caught off guard, man.

He said "bury me with my ass sticking up out of the ground so my friends have a place to park their bikes."

But I just can't bring myself to tell that to everybody that's crying, so I'm tellin' it to you.

1 comment:

John said...

Leo is indeed still alive.

Great bit of writing there. Even I miss Old Guy Bob.