Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hemingway and Nashville Local Color

I'm about to finish "A Moveable Feast." It's a great book. I read on Wikipedia that some call it Hemingway's finest writing. I haven't read all of his writing, but I have to agree. Maybe that's because he knew the protagonist so well and he wasn't being deceptive that the protagonist was himself.

I don't know. The thing that bugs me is the critics who say that Hemingway is still being deceptive in his portrayal of himself as the hero. Critics bug me, I even bug myself when I'm being a critic. Sometimes I think, "Poor Stoker, always stuck listening to me being a critic." And then I think, "Poor me, always stuck listening to me being critical." But there's no way to escape that. I'm stuck with me.

At lunch I have to leave my workplace. I have to get away, I have to think that I'm not fixed to this place like some kind of Dickens character. What's his name? The guy who worked for Scrooge who was forever positive and helpful and hopeful? I don't recall. But I'm not him. I like to think I'm not a cog in the machinery and that I could get away from it permanently if I had to.

I could live on the streets like the lady on Demonbreun. Demonbreun is a main road in Nashville. It takes one over to Music Row and it's not pronounced "deman-brewin" like one might think. It's pronounced "de-MON-bri-un." That's not an offical phonetical spelling, so don't check Webster's to see if I did it right. I'll spare you, I didn't.

The lady is a permanent fixture on Demonbreun. She's beautiful. I've never spoken to her, but she's got my heart. She's there in the middle of cold winter days, sitting on her bench in a big coat, and she's there in the swampy hot weather of summer, sitting on her bench under a big sun umbrella. She has Swedish features that have been bronzed to a sort of leathery complexion by the wind and the cold and the sun. Sometimes I'll see her eating a lunch off of one of the brick walls that separate the little shops along Demonbreun, and I've seen her drinking something from a styrofoam cup, with her pinkie in the air like someone with real class.

There are days that I wonder where she goes at night. Does she go to the mission? I look for her when I drive by and if I don't see her, I worry. I worry and wonder if she's safe. I wonder about her choice of "office." There's an abandoned newspaper stand next to her preferred bench. The glass has been broken out and I have noticed that she puts stuff in there, like her dayplanner and maybe a notebook.

She has class. She does. She wears dark velvety jumpsuits, the kind your grandma might wear. I guess they're called leisure suits. They have embroidered designs on them.

The most I've said to her is "hi." And I wave and she waves back. I don't know anything else about her. But I feel a sense of responsibility for her. That probably makes me an ass and if I ever spoke to her and if she found out I had said this or written a word about her, she would probably resent it and think, "How dare you!" She's got class and dignity, you see. She's not a stray cat or something. And I've never given her anything, not even spare change.

It's stupid to say, but I feel like she's given me something.


jenny said...

so, jeremy and i were talking the other night and decided that you should write a book of short stories (you know, a david sedaris sort of thing). you are such a talented writer-more people should be able to read your stuff. seriously, think about it.

Aries327 said...

The thing is, is even if I never do that, what I got out of this comment is that I'm totally honored to be the subject of one of your conversations.

Ha ha. Seriously. Thanks a million. That's really cool of you to say. Last night I bored the hell out of Stoker at dinner, regaling him with character sketches of my old friends. He's heard them all before and he endured it well, mainly because he was eating camarones el diablo and he loves that dish. Anyway, that's all I have is character sketches. No good material for stories.

I tried to read a David Sedaris book once. He's a good writer. I love his sister. She's terribly funny. In a terrible way. If you know what I mean.