Monday, June 25, 2007

not rockin' the boat

The thing about living as an almost-recluse is that when you meet people - real, live, flesh-and-blood people - it goes to your head and you never want to blog again, because how does this compare with the intoxication of that? So yesterday, I drove for what seemed like miles and miles in the rain, to give a copy of my book to a friend who was going to Singapore and had promised to deliver it to someone.

The book was for a very dear friend whom I haven't seen in years. When I was still in boarding school, and birthdays meant a few sad, hand-made cards, he sent me, by regular post, a card with a gift inside that might have induced swoons if I'd been of the swooning kind.

The card had Snoopy sitting on his kennel, with dark glasses on. You might easily have thought this was going to be one of those World-Famous-Fighter-Pilot ones; on the inside, though, Snoopy was raising a glass of champagne, and saying, "Here's lookin' at you, kid." I knew what that referred to! I'd only recently watched Bogey and Bergman! (ok, my heart may have been beating a little faster than usual, causing some breathlessness, but no swooning.)

The envelope had some brightly coloured doodles: 'sun' said one, just in case I might have misunderstood what a bright yellow blob with uneven rays might have meant. 'Flowers' said another (a third, mere sqiggles a child could have made, said 'Art') It made you smile because you understood, somewhere in your sixteen-year-old heart, that it took confidence of a different order to announce what it was that was being said, on the envelope of a birthday card.

Inside, tucked into the card, was Dylan himself. All I knew of the man in those days was Tambourine Man and Blowin' in the Wind. This came as an eye-opener to me. It's not a song; it's not even in the liner notes of The Times They Are A-Changin'. But it's in the book of Dylan's lyrics.

Today, I was reminded of it because Falstaff's blog has just turned two, and he's pointed to Beckett in celebration.

Thoughts of birthdays led to thoughts of that long-ago birthday when Geraldine was given some sound - if cynical - advice.

Here's what he said:

Advice for Geraldine on Her Miscellaneous Birthday

stay in line. stay in step. people
are afraid of someone who is not
in step with them. it makes them
look foolish t' themselves for
being in step. it might even
cross their minds that they themselves
are in the wrong step. do not run
nor cross the red line. if you go
too far out in any direction, they
will lose sight of you. they'll feel
threatened. thinking that they are
not a part of something that they
saw go past them, they'll feel
something's going on up there that
they don't know about. revenge
will set in. they will start thinking
of how t' get rid of you. act
mannerly towards them. if you don't,
they will take it personal. as you
come directly in contact face t' face
do not make it a secret of how
much you need them. if they sense
that you have no need for them,
the first thing they will do is
try t' make you need them. if
this doesn't work, they will tell
you of how much they don't need
you. if you do not show any sadness
at a remark such as this, they
will immediately tell other people
of how much they don't need you.
your name will begin t' come up
in circles where people gather
to tell about all the people they
don't need. you will begin t' get
famous this way. this, though, will
only get the people who you don't need
in the first place
all the more madder.
you will become
a whole topic of conversation.
needless t' say, these people
who don't need you will start
hating themselves for needing t' talk
about you. then you yourself will
start hating yourself for causing so
much hate. as you can see, it will
all end in one great gunburst.
never trust a cop in a raincoat.
when asked t' define yourself exactly,
say you are an exact mathematician.
do not say or do anything that
he who standing in front of you
watching cannot understand, he will
feel you know something he
doesn't. he will take it as a serious
blow. he will react with blinding
speed and write your name down.
talk on his terms. if his terms
are old-fashioned an' you've
passed that stage all the more easier
t' get back there. say what he
can understand clearly. say it simple
t' keep your tongue out of your
cheek. after he hears you, he can
label you good or bad. anyone will
do. t' some people, there is only
good an' bad. in any case, it will
make him feel somewhat important.
it is better t' stay away from
these people. be careful of is all temporary
an' don't let it sway you. when asked
if you go t' church, always answer
yes, never look at your shoes. when
asked what you think of gene autry
singing of hard rains gonna fall say
that nobody can sing it as good as
peter, paul and mary. at the mention
of the president's name, eat a pint of
yogurt an' go t' sleep early...when
asked if you're a communist, sing
america the beautiful in an
italian accent. beat up nearest
street cleaner. if by any
chance you're caught naked in a
parked car, quick turn the radio on
full blast an' pretend
that you're driving. never leave
the house without a jar of peanut
butter. do not wear
matched socks. when asked to do 100
pushups always smoke a pound
of deodorant beforehand.
when asked if you're a capitalist, rip
open your shirt, sing buddy can
you spare a dime with your
right foot forward an' proceed t'
chew up a dollar bill.
do not sign any dotted line. do not
fall in trap of criticizing people
who do nothing else but criticize.
do Not create anything. it will be
misinterpreted. it will not change.
it will follow you the
rest of your life. when asked what you
do for a living say you laugh for
a living. be suspicious of people
who say that if you are not nice
t' them, they will commit suicide.
when asked if you care about
the world's problems, look deeply
into the eyes of he that asks
you, he will not ask you again. when
asked if you've spent time in jail,
announce proudly that some of your
best friends've asked you that.
beware of bathroom walls that've not
been written on. when told t' look at
yourself...never look. when asked
t' give your real name...never give it.

Nostalgia and rains are a dangerous combination. Here's lookin' at you, KT (if you read my blog at all!).


Alok said...

What a wonderful thing to read on a monday morning. So nice you are still in touch with someone after so many years...

Space Bar said...

Alok: Glad it cheered your Monday morning up.

Now to decide whether to say, Most of my friends are from so long ago, or to be indignant that you assumed 'long ago' means looooooooooooong ago!