Old Wine New Bottle

28 Oct

Coffee and cigarettes. And two fingers of Wild Turkey. That’s what I order.
—Shit Chief, we ain’t had cigarette machines since the ordinance last year, says the barkeep. He puts down a rocks glass and fills it halfway.
—How you want your coffee?
I tell him.
I am sitting at the bar.
Looking into the mirror behind him.
There is a four top with all women directly behind me. They are in their late 30s, 40s maybe. They are rambunctious. And used. Tired. And maybe happy. They drink pink and green liquor out of martini glasses. Some have umbrellas in them. One of them says:
—Jeeesas, what is with this music already. Can we hear something from this century?
It’s Gil Evans. An old tune. You know what it is.
—Eddie, can we change the music, willya?
And the women laugh and talk loudly. Must be some single girls’ night out. Only it’s four in the afternoon. The television sets around the place are all tuned into Oprah. Volume down. A banner dissolves on the lower third: “Celebrating Your Spirit.”
The women laugh in a weird, auditory explosion that makes me twitch.
Two more fingers of Turkey.
“Celebrating Your Spirit.” On the show, Oprah and three women are sitting around a high table with large glasses of wine. The wine is pink. White zinfandel. The women behind me are banging on their table with their palms. I look into the mirror. One of them is doing a multi-colored shot. It’s on fire.

Outside, in the parking lot, I open the door to my car.
—Excuse me.
It’s one of the women inside. She has awful hair. But so do I.
—What kind of car is this?
I tell her.
She says she used to have an old model.
—Aah.
—But it wasn’t all fancy like this one, she says.
—It’s not fancy. Just newer. They re-design them every few years.
I don’t know anything about cars. I don’t want to. I don’t know why she’s talking to me about cars. I don’t even look like I know anything about cars. There’s a long pause so I say something about my first one. Just to be polite.
—It was a 1967 Karmann Ghia. Orange. And it had the engine in…
—Oh, really?
I think she misunderstands because she cocks her head in a weird way. I think maybe the way she hears it is that I used to drive a Ghia back in 1967, although I don’t look that old. She stares at me and squints. Doing the math. It can’t add up. Then she says something about another brand. A newer model. I don’t know anything about cars. She looks at my hands. I am standing there with my door open. It’s cold. She doesn’t listen. She’s still trying to figure out the 1967 thing. She doesn’t listen. No one ever does.
—Well, it was nice talking to you, I say.
She holds out her hand. I shake it. She is waiting for something.
—Yes, nice meeting you.
I don’t give her my name. Neither does she. I climb into the car.
It starts.

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3 Responses to “Old Wine New Bottle”

  1. Slyboots 28/10/2008 at 11:00 AM #

    And I hope you drive like a bat out of hell. Or as fast as a VW can take you.

  2. Geoff 30/10/2008 at 3:05 AM #

    Alex, it’s the middle of the night as I read your words, and type these words. I had a shot of Bukowski before heading over to your page, and it all seems to flow nicely, thank you. (I love your final line.) Here we go ….

  3. (S)wine 30/10/2008 at 5:42 AM #

    Bukowski makes for the best shots.

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