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@ K. 2002 01 27
You make other people look shabby.
I use the above title as a headline in the introductory story file. I’ve remembered Linda’s comment with increasing fondness in the decades since she said it. I’d been well dressed the first time she saw me, but by the time she said it, I don’t think she meant just my sartorial appearance. Whatever she meant, my own sense of things approves (and no doubt magnifies) her underlying meaning. Had Linda realized the degree to which my independence gets me shunned I doubt that she would have flung herself at me, but once she did, she stayed flung: for a year or so anyway.
On my way home to my beach place from the Art Expo I passed a dive in Point Lookout where the neon lights illuminated not only the name of a group but a crowd waiting to get in. My taste for jazz together with my experiences subsequent to that taste make me turn up my nose at most other popular music, so I kept driving. I’d had a long day. I hit the scotch bottle hard, and after four or five, decided to check out that club. Still dressed to command the double booth I’d rented at the Expo, I showed up back at the club.
I’d better explain. I’d just made a quarter of a million dollars. The money was being spent fast. I owed my business manager a half a year’s back salary. I rented and staffed a new office on Lafayette Street. The rent and insurance on the warehouse I’d just stashed four million dollars worth of new inventory in was considerable. I myself still had no salary (never did have, never would have) and, till the Expo, still wore the same cloths I’d scrounged for FLEX in. For that Expo event I’d spent a thousand on an English tweed suit and an Aquascutum overcoat. I still have both if you want to see. The suit no longer fits quite the way it did but the coat does. The suit was generously double breasted, very tweedy in texture but not at all in color: a very soft buff. The tail was very English, vented at the sides, not in the rear. The coat was almost camel colored, very generous in the lapels, and hung to mid-calf. That made the coat long enough to go up against Clint Eastwood in.
When Hilary and I drove around the Adirondacks in her Citroen Onze in 1963, people who should have come running to pump gas, hid behind the country store counter. Cars as gangster-looking as the Onze were seen only in the movies. They must have thought we were Bonnie and Clyde.
Mid-1980s I was wearing that Aquascutum while driving a wrecked Dodge, the drivers side all stove in — the insurance money spent on writing more of By the Hair of the Comet, not on fixing the car — and a cop flashed his lights behind me. Lancaster Avenue was narrow in that part of Wayne PA, so I pulled into the parking lot of a diner. The cop came over and I started to get out. “You don’t have to get out,” he said, backing up, clearing his reach for his gun, “Just give me your …” I got out anyway, dripping with sweat. The car registration had expired, the insurance had been canceled over a year ago … By the time I got out of jail, the landlady where I rented a room would have thrown out my computer, my manuscripts would be lost, Haley’s Comet would have come and gone, and with it my chance to cash any part of the Haley interest that year. Since 1982 the publishers had responded to my suggestion about leading the comet with the novel, but never followed up with a deal. I got out trying to control my trembling.
“Um, err, I think you went through a red light,” the cop said, still backing up, till he reached his squad car and drove away.
Hmm. My gangsta coat.
Can’t they see it’s English?
So: back in 1979, I’ve given myself a skin full of booze, I show up at the club with all the neon, and a guy holds me up on the way in: “Two bucks,” he says. I’m tired and smashed enough that nothing is registering on me very swiftly. I’d thought to take a quick gander at the rock, have maybe one drink, roll home, and crash. “Umm,” I mumble, “There’s a cover?” Guy grabs the guy. “Come ahead in,” he says. “You’re the boss’s guest.”
Later on I digested that to mean that the boss thought the joint’s new drug connection had arrived.
I head for the bar. “Scotch,” I say.
“Hello,” is said full in my face. I feel arms around me, feel a kiss full on my mouth. I felt Linda before I ever saw her.
I’ll continue this another time. For the moment just realize: by the time she said that I made other people look shabby, I don’t think she was talking about the coat: which she’d never seen me wear again.
2012 05 31 An ex-dance partner who turned on me has spoken few words to me since. One time she told me to kiss her ass. A previous time she told me that I intimidated her. I bet that relates to what Linda meant.
Bonnie & Clyde
2013 08 10 Last night from the band stand Buddy Canova was cracking jokes about Clyde, one of the regulars, about 4′ 10″, accepts jokes graciously. Buddy says, “I asked Clyde what’s the difference between a hold up and a stick up.
And Clyde answered, “Age.”
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