Segment 5: When a Third World Came West

Part of me is just reaching out half the time to shows, music venues, and towns were I can be completely aimless and unknown.  Does anyone else felt the same…?  Not that I want to completely reinvent myself or start new, that’s not totally it.  But when I get into new bands or new music or new stories, I can’t bring these up right away with my friends.  Most of them I’ve had for a while, and we’re bonded by teaching stories or students who won’t listen.  I fell into this group by virtue of me grading till 9pm, passing out after, and basically not having a life.  That’s why I can relate to the way I was, way back when, meeting a stranger like Sam and made me feel like I could choose any topic for conversation and determine right of the bat, if he was someone I’d hang out with or not.  If he was interesting.  Does anyone else feel this way?

“Wait.  Wait…,” The guy said, inhaling cigarette smoke through the gold ring around an unfiltered Camel cigarette.  It was humid out, but there were some breezes every now and then to blow the Bank of America flags around on their staffs,  though the air was still muggy and made this guy’s black hair stick to the top of his forehead.  He’d looked like he’d been doing a lot of walking. He asked me to do more of it with him. “Walk this way,” He said, pointing towards a pizza place.  There were a lot of people milling around, dressed up in nice jeans, smelling of cologne, walking in crowds of pretty blond girls, with music and noise all round them, probably coming from the mangled white Christmas lights that bordered the big room in the Barbeque Bar.   The street lights were twelve feet high, bright, covering chunks of the sidewalk and making any erroneous moves, obvious.  I looked at the guy in front of me, with the cotton Caribbean blue shirt now sticking to him because of the mugginess, smoking his Camel and thought it twice over but said ‘sure’ eventually. I walked next to him down the sidewalk now littered with more gum and cigarette butts and turned my head a few times to look over towards the Red Velvet to see if Bobby had come out pissed and angry looking for me. But the doorway was now crowded with guys and girls and a doorman, trying to be let in, and trying to scan the people that pushed their twenty-something friends in front of them, over for ID’s.   I turned towards the guy next to me.  “What’s your name?”

“Sam.”  He took a puff of his cigarette then watched a girl in a green hiked up skirt pass him, smiling.

I took out a cigarette, empty of a carton that I’d stuffed in my pocket change purse and lifted it up to the light as we walked to see if it had been broken in all the commotion of me running back and forth to the bank.

“What’s yours?” He asked.

I looked at him taking in more puffs of his cigarette and wondered how he could do that without worrying about his breathing.  I was always hurried when I smoked, thinking of how it’d effect my running the next day, or of how long the smell would stay on me and linger, when I got home at nights to see my parents.  “Tracy.” I said.  There was only a little crack in the cigarette and so I asked him for a light and he sucked in his cigarette and got me to light mine from his.  After a few puffs I felt high and looked left and right to the place for which I thought he had pointed.


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