I’m at Fido again. Nashville's a lovely place this time of year and it’s a gorgeous evening, the sky an unspoiled canvas of deepening blues and pomegranite pinks. I’m reflecting on how much time I spend in coffee shops, ruminating on the nature of this and that. Tonight, it’s mostly “that”- that coffee shop in Seattle, just up the block from my old apartment where, in my previous life, I’d hunker down and put my thoughts on paper.
One particularly dreary afternoon, I'm recalling, I create a composite character inspired by recent events- a gig played literally to zero people, my recently broken up band and a roommate cooking fish in the microwave. I call him Ned. Ned, I write, is a real piece of shit. I bet that son of a bitch rocks loafers without socks. Ned antagonizes clowns at the circus, knowing kids will be scarred for life. Ned, that unspeakable, reeking pile of human garbage, is vegan but happily sports a leather man purse, that hypocrite douche. This goes on for a while.
Ned, I eventually reveal, is ticklish. Oh, he doesn’t like to admit it but, if you land a solid tickle, Ned will squeal like a piglet. Ned doesn’t talk about it much, but his neighbor’s elderly and he walks her dog on the days when her hip’s acting up. Ned knows that the server at his favorite diner is a single parent who works two jobs. He tips $100. This goes on for a while.
It may seem like a silly exercise but, over the course of 500 words, Ned transforms from a narcissistic troll into a guy just trying to do the right thing. I don't like him, but I no longer want to push him into oncoming traffic. I'll sit with him I guess, listen for a while. It seems like there's more to Ned's story.
On this rainy afternoon in Seattle, I'm feeling like nothing and going nowhere. Anger is easy and comfortable. Maybe there’s another way?