Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Personal / Stories / Others’ /
@ K. 2008 07 26
Worker bees won’t make much honey if they spend all their time expressing their individuality. It’s wonderful to notice how great some of Shakespeare’s effects are, but we certainly don’t want every bit of writing we encounter to be mind-blowing great genius poetry. Even if it were, we’d have to ignore it, or we wouldn’t be able to live ourselves. In the HBO production Rome, Pullo rescues some girl, then spends episode after episode mooning over her. Long before he realizes that he loves this slave girl, Vorenus chastises him for thanking her for something. “Don’t thank slaves, it makes them forget their place.”
I’ve played both sides of the street. I can be the attention-grabber, the show-off, the great individualist individual; I can also enjoy disappearing into the background, being the perfectly invisible servant.
If you ask the traffic cop where the library is, you don’t want him to tell you about his girl friend or to show you his nipple-ring. He’s wearing a uniform in large part to make him a working bee: not to be too much of an individual, not while he’s on the job.
Sometimes it’s a bonus if the check out girl has an ass that makes you walk bowlegged for the next five minutes, but the store will lose business if all the check out girls have all the male customers walking bowlegged. The store would soon have to dress all its girls in gunny sacks — or go bankrupt.
It therefore becomes one of life’s pleasant surprises when we’re dealing with someone whose role requires them to be “in uniform” but then to notice that they’re not just a worker bee. In a different context I was just relating a couple such stories: a librarian subtly declaring herself an individual, with a mind, to a scholar, for example, when I thought of another example, which I also have to tell. Here it is.
But it has to be a story within a story. I first stopped at Hilton Head Island hoping to do business. I also hoped to play some golf. But the golf was an extra reason; the primary reason was to turn over a couple of dollars: to put money into my pocket, to put in more than I spent. Ah, I made some money, but I also met a woman. Thereafter I went to Hilton Head to see my girl friend AND to try to make some money, and to play some golf.
One day, after doing some business, I pull up at my girl friends house (with whom I was by now living, when I was at Hilton Head at least) and some guy is just on his way out. She introduces us as we cross paths. He’s in a hurry to leave. I’m in a hurry to get inside, get a cool drink, get laid. We don’t pay much attention to each other. Once inside, there’s a book on her table. The guy had just dropped it off: a golf book, the buy was a golf author, lived on a golf course, a Hilton Head “plantation” just off the island: a course I think he had designed. It turned out this guy was the founder of Golf Magazine, Ben Hogan’s biographer: Charles Somebody or other, Somebody Charles.
I picked up the book and read some very funny Ben Hogan stories: and one story the guy wrote about himself. It was set at a golf club which is one of the shrines of American golf: Pinehurst, or some name like that. Apparently Charles had spent a lot of time there back when, had lived here, did his golf journalism there. Charles was a three handicap: certainly not Ben Hogan, and not scratch either: but close. Three is good, very good.
So, when Charles stayed at Pinehurst, he was carrying his typewriter even more often than his golf bag, and everyone around the club called him “Mr. Types”.
So Charles tells the story about revisiting Pinehurst after more than a decade had passed since he’d centered his circuit there. He’s aging. He can no longer quite play to his “three.” He plays a round. If he feels decrepit, the caddie looks awful, buckling under the bulk of the big bag. Out on the course Charles is no longer quite sure how to play this once familiar hole. But, as he had written, the caddies at Pinehurst were famous for knowing their course, and for judging the player they were carrying for. Charles is a long way to the green. Hmm. Maybe a three iron. But the caddy hands him a four. Ah, trust the Pinehurst caddy. Charles takes the four iron. Swings. Whoops. Short.
He gives the caddy a dirty look, hands the four iron back to him in none too gracious a manner.
“You don’t hit that four iron the way you used to, Mr. Types,” says the caddy.
I hope I told that well. All I had to do was reproduce how Charles told it in that book: a writer, a good one, repeating an effect of a writer, a good one, hoping I didn’t fluff it.
I love it. The caddie recognized Charles; Charles did not recognize the caddy. But why should he? Charles was the great journalist, an entrepreneur, and the Ben Hogan biographer. The caddy was just the caddy: a slave, a worker bee, something “in uniform.”
The caddie hadn’t jumped up and down, “Oh, Mr. Charles. Mr. Types. I recognize you, do you remember me?” But the caddy had found a dignified way to tell him.
Pullo decides he does love the girl. He gives her her freedom. Oh thank you master, now I can marry my lover. Pullo kills the lover, breaks the slave girl’s heart. What, did you think she was a virgin? scoffs Vorenus’s wife.
But at the end poor Pullo is still paying homage to the unfortunate girl he’d rescued on the road. And finally she gives the poor brute her hand.
Resurrecting these old K. files brings back so many memories. Charles never betrayed any sense that Jeano was with me, he just courted and courted her. He’d invite her to dinner, she’d ask, “Oh, can Paul come too?” And Charles would wind up paying for there steaks, not two. He’d make a pronouncement on his precious Beethoven, and I’d make a different pronouncement. The guy did by the way have the greatest (and most expensive) hi-fi system I’ve ever seen. Beethoven was all he ever played.
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