Thursday, August 27, 2009

Iron Pine Club

I was up early Saturday. It was August 15. Nice thing about not getting wasted in bars is you can live a normal life the next day. That is why I observe strict limits on my alcohol intake. A gibbous moon was hanging in the Eastern sky, dogged by a giant planet. It was fairly clear but later the clouds rolled in again and it rained. But, hey! It's Saturday. I am on vacation and there are lots of opportunities to pursue. I wanted to make something new happen and I knew how to do it.

I was putting on some socks the other day and it happens that when I undid the pair from their little stuff bundle they were both wrong-side out. This never happens and it made me think. How many times did I have to perform this operation to get an unexpected result? A great many. What if I accelerated the process, spent all day every day folding and unfolding? What kind of population of socks would I have to look at to find an anomaly? It is like growing maize you see. Drive down a country road and look at the maize fields. Millions of plants, all uniform. Except every now and then, maybe one in 500,000, you will see a mutant. These can be much taller than their peers; that's one way to identify them. My mission on this trip has been to create such a population of events that something unexpected will happen. After all why seed the heavens with 100 billion galaxies if you weren't looking for the unexpected? This principle runs through it all. So, that's why I went so far out of my way to engage people. Sometimes I don't do this being satisfied to be a rock, an island. The song says a rock feels no pain, an island never cries. Well, of course they do, though it might just be as a potentiality. It is still there. I had this conversation in the car with Gary and Pat on our way up to Fort Benton yesterday and from their reaction I am sure that I needed to just shut up and keep my own counsel close to myself, so to speak, where it is appreciated. Smile. So, with that in mind, when evening came, though I was a little tired, I mounted my iron steed and set out yet again for parts unknown in down-town Great Falls, Montana.

I rode around a bit after getting there. It was somewhat cold at 7:30 P.M., but there were a few people around. I pulled up next to a guy crossing the street and asked him whether there might be a decent bar in the neighbourhood. He directed me over a block and back towards the river a couple more to the Iron Pine Club.

As I was parking the bike, speaking of the unexpected, my son called to check up on me and to remind me that his baby was due in two days. We talked for a few minutes while I went inside and took off my riding coat and helmet. Then, I went to the bar and took a seat next to a couple of guys. The bar was not at all busy and wouldn't be anything like the experience I had the previous evening at the Sip and Dip.

These two guys were talking about being stopped by police and how to resist when they wanted to search the vehicle. Since I have some experience, from the law enforcement side, of this kind of scenario it was easy to join the conversation. The guy on my immediate left and I quickly settled that issue and launched into a far ranging discussion of topics from battle space monitored by satellite communications to the readiness of our nuclear deterrent. There are a lot of missiles in silos in Montana and his job had to do with their readiness. He was Air Force, and about to get out and go back to his home in one of the Carolinas. I really liked him, and he me. He said he'd never met anyone like me before. Couldn't believe that I knew so much about almost everything. Wouldn't let me go, so I had one extra drink. Off on the subject of women, he is married, he wanted to hook me up with a Shanna or Holley who worked in a "massage" parlour a couple of blocks away. Gave me their phone number, told me how to get to the place, and even tried to call them himself, but got a voice mail, of which I was glad. I didn't want to hurt his feelings but no way I was going to use a hooker. There are better ways to get something unexpected, if you take my meaning. Anyhow, he said I'd be in like flint if I would just tell them Scott sent me. This was an interesting counterpoint to what had gone before to say the least. I didn't elicit this offering. It just sprang up. I guess it was an instance of necessity being the mother of invention. You figure it out. At any rate, in a very few days, I would truly strike pure gold. But so sadly, alas, a fortelling, I could not stake a claim, though I tried. I tried hard....

Some of my exchange with Scott needed illustration and I kept the napkin with our doodles on it as a keepsake. It has the Star of David on it. We talked about religion. It has a "battle space" on it with a satellite high overhead. It has the gibbous moon being dogged by a star, because he didn't know what dogging the moon meant. It has the name of the massage parlor, the girls names, the phone numbers, and a bunch of other stuff, front and back. When it came time for me to really go he gave me a pass to Glacier National Park he said he wouldn't be needing, and when I went to shake his hand he pulled me into an embrace. It felt right. Two human beings, a random encounter, souls mixed, we part feeling like we somehow in the space of time it takes to drink two or three scotch and sodas, probably twice that many for Scott, came as two people and left as one. Sad I will never see him again. He was really hungry for the kind of exchange we had and I felt very good about having opened my heart and soul to him. A question springs to mind. What IS going on here? I do see a pattern emerging, but I daren't touch to heavily for fear it will dissolve.

Once again, on my way out, I took some pictures. The one at the top is the bartender. His name is Kyle Vogel. He didn't know that Vogel meant bird in German. I looked at him real hard and asked him who he looked like that I might know, an actor, I said. He said Leonardo DiCaprio. I said, yes! That's it, you really do. He smiled real proud. I told him I didn't particularly care for the guy but that he was a decent actor. He agreed he didn't like him much either. I said that I'd bet the girls hung off him like ornaments. He laughed, then I shook his hand as the picture was taken. I think he overheard a lot of Scott's conversation with me and I regret as I write this not having brought him into the discussion.

This picture is of the guy who was concerned about getting his car searched. I took it because of the ear thing, which he pulled out and reinserted for me. Cute.

And this is his sister. She is married, but nice and friendly and didn't flinch a bit when I kissed her as her brother took the picture. I got her email and sent her a copy, but she hasn't written me back. Sad but expected. But, hey! I am just planting seeds here. The surprise will have to come later. The population is not nearly big enough yet.

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