Beer Nuts, Poets, and Asian Dolls
By: Robert C. LaPin
“You haven’t been home to the United States in over 14 years?” I asked. I sat there in awe of his profession, his mind, and his cunningness of the eccentricities of life. My professor was the epitome of what I wanted to be.
“No, I’ve been on vacation away from the bullshit of everyday life.” My professor said. He had an aloof look on his face as stared through the brown, long neck beer bottle. He snapped his fingers to get the attention of a waitress on the other side of the bar. When she turned and saw him, he waved her on to come take an order.
“Professor, what makes you go back to the U.S. now?”
“A funeral.” He sarcastically said with a smirk half lit on his face.
“A friend, a friend I loved very much when I was young.”
I watched his chin rise as his head slowly turned toward the direction of native born waitress. She wore a black skirt that made it barely to her knees. Her form fitting white blouse scarcely hid her black or blue bra underneath. This Asian doll was too beautiful to be real, jet black hair, clean and pulled back into a bouncing pony tail. It was obvious that she took great care in painting face. Deep crimson lipstick perhaps dulled a lust from her lips, or at least added to a temptress look. Her lashes were straight with mascara and her checks rosy with blush. My professor sat and watched her, like the world was in slow motion.
“You want one more?” She asked. My professor smiled, leaned his head to one side, and took a deep breath. I saw this look before, a stare that’s born from undressing eyes, a stare that frequented him in the presence of all young beautiful women.
“An-Young-Ha-Say-Yo!” He said with a bow of his head. My professor was always quick to make use of his limited Korean. His face formed a smile as he began to mentally drool over the waitresses light olive, silk skin, and porcelain teeth.
He pried to begin a friendly conversation, “What’s your name?”
“I’m Angela.” She tap, tap, tapped her pink pen upon the small, brown serving tray in her right hand. She was used this scenario, another American Ex-Patriot after her Asian blossom.
“Go ahead Sir, get whatever you want, this round is on me.”
“Ok, I’ll take the same, but this time, bring a double shot Southern Comfort please.”
The waitress looked at me, “what you like Sir?”
“I’ll just have the same, thanks.”
She jotted a few notes on a piece paper, turned slowly and began to head toward the bar.
“Thank You!” My professor hollered. He wanted to get one last glance from her before she was gone for too long. Maybe he was looking for a turnaround so he could watch her hair fly through the air as her eyes searched for his. Maybe, but she didn’t turn around, she moved on with her job: to pick up our drinks while he sat there watching. “I’m sorry to hear about your friend Professor. ‘At least you will always have your memories.”
“Yeah, there are a lot of memories, and with that, comes even more responsibility.”
“Responsibility? What do you mean Sir?”
“When we were growing up, we did so much together. It’s the little; stupid things you don’t take much notice of that mean the most: stickball in the street, sleepovers, even catching those tiny fireflies that saturated our back yards. Everything is an adventure when you are young. Ha! When you’re young everything is wonderful, the ice cream tastes better, the days are worth more, and each moment is filled with hope.”
I didn’t want to interrupt the poet as he chose his words and coined his musical phrases. My eye lids seemed like they were glued open, and I felt myself staring, burning a hole into his mind. His hands, both flat and face down on the table, were once and still are his livelihood. Carpenters use their hands to build buildings, fishermen need their hands to bait hooks, but English Teachers use their hands to build bridges into unfamiliar worlds while luring us into believing the fallacies of life are really true . I admired my professor’s hands, because I had read them many times; I wished my hands would be as talented as those before me which now searched for a beer bottle to grasp.
“I’m not young anymore. In fact, I can feel myself dying a bit more everyday.” With that he just paused and looked toward the bar.
“Where is that waitress with our drinks?”
She walked over with our drinks and a blank stare on her face. My teacher watched her again, just he did in the first place. A conniving smile rippled through his face as he looked over at me.
"Sex keeps a man young." He said. He let out a little chuckle as the waitress, one-by-one, set our drinks in front of us.
"At least I thought that would be my fountain of youth."
"Seven dollars please Sir." The waitress stated, hovering above us like a bronze statue. I paid her, I said I would buy this round. She took the money and put it into her little money box that sat on the center of her tray. Then she turned, like before and walked away.
“I thought I could just run away from everything: from all the selfish moments of deities, all the restless nights with the women that break your heart.” My professor began as he preyed upon the subtle curves of the waitress’s skirt. “No Medicare for me, or dramatic political issues that soiled the evening news.” He paused. “I thought I would never grow old.” He didn’t want all those youths of America to dance around him with endless energy. To my Professor, there were no “baby boomers” to grow old with, or senior citizen discounts to look for in the Republic of Korea.
“How do women keep you young Sir? My dad, I think, would so much not agree with you.”
“As long as we’re appealing to some, we are appealing to ourselfves.”
“I still do understand what you are trying to tell me.”
“I came to Asia to forget what I grew up with. I left the things that comforted me, the things that reminded me of my youth that in turn reminded me of the many years that went by; too many years for me.”
“Why are you telling me all this?”
“I’m a writer son, I share my life with strangers. I let them judge me when they judge my work. Don’t you know that’s what writers do?”
“I guess, well, huh….”
“I write about the youth inside me now.” He interrupted me, to further drive home his point.
“I counseled my mind about all my lustful conquests. The memories of the hot, steamy nights in Bangkok; even the nights when I knelt on one knee puking my brains out, basically all of the joys that careless money spending can bring takes away the image of the person I saw in the mirror this morning.”
After taking deep gulps of his beer, he told me about the stories he writes. I had never read a story that he wrote based in the US. He wrote of high times, sexual smells, and those things we think about when our minds fall into the gutter. If he forgot his past, replacing those old memories with new ones, he’d always be young; hard, unbreakable, unchanging, non-aging. That was his life for over 14 years in Asia.
“I have to remember now, it’s become a last wish responsibility.”
“How, tell me how?”
“All the times, experiences, all the adventures my friend I shared are locked in my brain. Before, we both shared them, I could forget while he remembered our roots. I’m the last one that holds our precious moments in time. Without me, he’s dead; if I don’t reminisce he would have never lived in the first place.”
Who knows how to respond to that? I’m the student, not the teacher. I just sat, slouched in my chair. He took one last gulp of his beer, and glanced at his watch.
“Well, it’s time for me to go now. If I’m going to face myself in the morning, I better get up in enough time to catch the plane.”
“Wait, don’t leave yet. What happens now. Where do we, where do you go from here?”
“The moral of the story? Is that what you want?”
“Grow old without concealing your past. We can never alter the finales of our lives, so when you write, don’t write about the porcelain dolls you met last night, write about the real things you know, write about long-ago summer nights when you and your friends caught fire flies in the backyard.” A short pause led to the starburst of the conversation, “man dies, but the words of memories, of times past, live forever.”
* * *
My professor did exactly what he loved to do, he taught. Three hours, four shots, and five beers later, I was drunk with wisdom. He’s right with what he said. Our memories, our past, all the people we met along the path of life are a mere wink of the eye to Father Time. We are always standing on the threshold of never exisisting. It the words we write, that keep us sane, and let us breath one last breath. The Teach knows best - never go gentle into the night, and always make sure a pen is in reach.
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|Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione
|This one is solid but can be done a lot better. Don't let Gorup get to you because you can only get better -- it is more fun to have a nameless character, or put yourself into it in one way or another.|
|Reviewed by Clifford Leighty
|Even with out a plot... I liked it; because it made me think and realize a thing or two. Good rewrite and interesting.|
|Reviewed by Geoffrey Gorup
|Where to begin? Conflict? Where is the conflict in this story? We have a motive for our "nameless" character, but we have nothing preventing him from getting what he wants. Some problems with the dialogue made it hard to follow. Interesting story, but not real plot development. The theme is there, and it is a good one. Maybe take the theme and develop it a little more. Overall intersting, but as the Teach would say, "This is a good story, but what can we do to make it better?"|