Cake Walking Babies

30 Apr

There was nothing interesting about the bars. Never was. Never will be. The men were horrible. What they said about women, it was always awful and degrading. The ugliest men said the ugliest things about women. What they’d do to them. And the women came in all dolled up and sometimes left with these disgusting human beings. And then I got to hear all about it the next night. From the men. Not to me directly. I never spoke to anyone in bars. I used to bring books to try to cover up all the bullshit. I once tried to get through Proust’s “A la Recherche du Temps Perdu” at a small hole in the wall in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Jesus Christ, what a fight that was. Every sentence was a struggle to finish over the top of two construction workers debating whether it was better to use condoms during anal sex with their wives. I took in Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson and Céline and a slew of poetry which I couldn’t read. Odes by John Keats, Sonnets by Shakespeare, Yeates, Ted Hughes, T.S. Eliot, Wordsworth, you name them, I tried them. Poetry doesn’t work in bars. This isn’t going anywhere, and it’s all right. It’s not meant to. The nicest thing about Arkansas was a little restaurant off highway 40. The woman in charge served the best fried chicken I’d ever tasted in my life and she played Sidney Bechet’s “Cake Walking Babies From Home.” She had a small record player on top of the counter and she played old jazz.
–Eva Taylor sings on this, she said. –And Louis Armstrong blows the horn.
I didn’t know who Eva Taylor was but I knew Bechet and Armstrong.
–From 1925, she said.
Four pieces of fried chicken cost me a dollar seventy-five. I asked what the secret was.
–Buttermilk, sweetie. You gotta soak it overnight, is all.
She called me sweetie and somehow it was all right. When you’re travelling across the country by yourself, looking for work and haven’t spoken to anyone in weeks, sometimes you want to be called that. I broke my thermos of coffee just outside this place. I dropped it in the parking lot just before getting on the bus. I don’t know why that stands out now. The thermos. I remember feeling it was a huge loss for me. Maybe the coffee was good or something.

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One Response to “Cake Walking Babies”

  1. momentofchoice 30/04/2008 at 9:03 PM #

    hole in stomach.

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