An old man's good old days

Today was a boring day on Telegraph. I worked five hours, sold only three fish. It was too cold and overcast; business on the Ave was bad for everyone.

I did better than the tarot card reader next to me, though. She sat at her table, hands folded, waiting all day for a customer or even an inquiry, and had no takers. 

Nobody spoke to her, except me. I said "Good morning," and "Good night," and in between I tried to make conversation, once, and somewhat.

"So," I said after lunch, "is it a scam, or what? Do you really believe you tarot cards are for real, or are they 'really' for real?" I did quote marks with my fingers for "really."

"Peddle your fish," was her response. Gosh, and I'd tried so hard to be sociable.

Later, some old codger stopped at my stand, barely glanced at the fish, and started yakking about what he did in the '60s, and working for the Governor's office, and all about a prehistoric era he twice referred to as "the good old days."

I sat still for a few days, hoping he'd wander away when his story ended, but one story melted into the next, and just listening I felt myself getting older. After waiting a week for a breaking point, I didn't want to wait months so eventually I interrupted.

"I don't care," I said, and he frowned but walked away.

♦ ♦ ♦

There are a few people I like, but most of them — 99.99% — are only annoying. The claim is that God created man, and that's proof that the almighty is anything but infallible. 

Most people are completely content to think only what they've been told to think, do whatever they're told to do, and pretend to be nice to each other while sharpening their blades behind their backs.

They're ordinary, and that's all they aspire to. They might mutter a complaint under their breath, but you can count on people to follow the herd, root for the home team, praise the Lord, fill out every form, sign on the dotted line, obey the most ridiculous rules to the letter, and dial 9-1-1 if anyone else doesn't.

As for that old man yabbering about"the good old days," you know his days weren't as good as he misremembers. When he was young, doing what he told, he was part of the process. Now he's old, still doing what he's told, but nobody listens any more. That's the only difference between now and his good old days.

Nobody listens to him any more, so he makes me listen to his stories from a time when people listened.

And these are my good old days, like the song says, but on days like this I find that hard to believe.

From Pathetic Life #18
Friday, November 3, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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