Saturday, April 18, 2009
By Richard E. Noble
This young man stepped up to the counter at Hobo’s in Carrabelle and as I prepared his lunch he began to expound on all the vicissitudes of his life. His first complaint was with “women today.” He was especially displeased with American women.
“American women are too materialistic and appearance conscious. Every man looks like a big dollar sign to them. If you don’t have a nice, new car and a good paying job and a bunch of money, or you don’t look like their favorite movie hero, they dump you without a second glance.”
[So on top of not being very good looking, I now figured that this guy didn’t have a good job, he was driving an old car and he didn’t have a pot to pee in.]
“Yeah, that’s so true. I guess that has always been the case,” I offered.
“No, I don’t think so. In the olden days, when you were my age, things were better. Today they are way out of hand.”
“Really? The olden days, huh?”
“Oh yeah. And the colleges today are really propaganda mills. I mean going to college is just a total waste of time.”
[Okay, no car, no job, no money and no college. What else is this guy lacking?]
“The girls in Venezuela are much better,” he added.
[Oh oh, he has bought a magazine and is sending away for a mail order bride.]
“How do you know that?”
“Well, I once lived in Venezuela.”
“Oh really. Well, why didn’t you marry a girl from Venezuela?”
“Who wants to get married? Do I look crazy?”
[Yes you do, but my job as the friendly soda jerk is to keep things light and lively. No chasing away the customers - even if they are crazy. So, here is a guy with nothing to offer and he is wondering why nobody is taking him up on it. Maybe I can change the subject.]
“What do you do for a living?”
“I teach guitar at a music store. It don’t pay much but I like it. What I really want to be is a country songwriter.”
“Oh you are a country songwriter. Do you sing too?”
“I can sing.”
“Oh great, let me hear you sing one of your country songs.”
“Well, I haven’t written any yet.”
“Well, it takes a lot of time and effort to write a country song, or any type song for that matter. First you have to think up a melody and most of the good melodies have already been taken. Then you have to make up words that go with the melody. That ain’t easy either.”
“Yeah, and all the good words have been taken too. But if you have never written a country song how do you know that you can really write one?”
“I’ve been playing the guitar since I was six years old. If I can’t write a stupid country song, I had better give up.”
“I suppose, but you can’t sell what you don’t have either. You know there are a few country music stars living right in this area.”
“Really! Do you think that they would buy a song from me?”
“You don’t have any. How could they buy one?”
“Well if I knew that somebody famous wanted a song and would pay me to write it, I could get one ready pretty quick.”
“I don’t think it works that way. I remember reading about Kris Kristofferson renting a helicopter and landing it in Johnny Cash’s backyard so he could play a song that he wrote for him in the hopes that Johnny might buy it.”
“I can’t afford to rent a helicopter. Besides, Johnny Cash is dead.”
“Right. No sense in that I guess.”
“Do you think that if I found out where one of those country singers lives around here, and I went out to his house, he would hire me to write songs for him?”
“Well ahh, it’s possible.”
“I think that I am going to try that.”
“Yeah, be sure to let me know how that works out.”
It has been a number of years now and I think about that kid often. He really wasn’t that young. He was probably in his late 20’s or early 30’s. He was old enough to parent a child, vote in a presidential election, get a driver’s license, and buy a hand gun in the state of Florida. But then again, I participated in this conversation because he had enough money to buy a sandwich in my eatery and I wanted his money. Which one of us was worse off?
“A Little Something” is R.E. Noble’s first book of poetry and it is now on sale at Amazon along with Hobo-ing America, A Summer with Charlie, Honor Thy Farther and Thy Mother and The Eastpointer. Richard Noble is a freelance writer who has lived here in Eastpoint for nearly 30 years.