Ian Pike noon, Dec. 8
I started my morning after fasting for a capsule endo, dehydrated, still blearily riding a dream wave of guava-orange juice, hash browns, and lemon curd on toast. At the gastroenterologist’s office, a nurse fastened me to ten or so probes—chest and heart, stomach and gut—tucked the bulk of the wires under my jeans, slung a yellow, green, and blue blinking monitor in a camera-style bag over my shoulder, and sent me off with the admonition to not lie down on the job. I had swallowed a large electronic capsule that would with the aid of the monitor, take constant pictures of some vital internal organs for most of the day.
Later that evening, happily freed of electronica, I would have another photo opportunity, this time with some Reader bloggers I’d never met, but felt I knew. Their faces and personalities were already somehow easily intimate to me, but as I carried out the day’s errands, I wondered what a snapshot of this evening could depict of people bonded somewhat on the page, but not in presence?
Refried delivering in solemn, mocking tones, a pop quiz on the best known works of Vonnegut? Magics draped across or fallen under a table, in dramatic physical breakdown over her conflicted homesickness for San Diego? Would yet other bloggers show, and would we end up in a furious meleé of curses and fists? Worse, would awkwardness descend and stilt our words and expressions? Would I have to pull out the old tap dance?
I communicated these fears as G. drove me down the hill to The Field. I’d forgotten how the Gaslamp lights up at dusk and cooks on a weeknight just as fiercely as any, with a constant parade of characters, dripping with fashion, goods to sell, or a dusty coat of homeless drunk. G. chuckled wryly as his old copy of Beckett’s Godot, intended for Refried, began to crumble as I signed its inside cover. This is what happens, as he and another familiar writer might comment.
A woman of pleasing shape, with tattoos and long casual hair, paced outside The Field, baby face and full lips crinkled with angst. I waved, and held a copy of the Reader over my face a moment, to announce my identity. Magics relaxed, gave me a warm hug, and we started toward the door of the busy bar, wondering if we should stay out on the patio or wait inside.
Just then, I spotted a man attempting to not watch us intently from behind the iron patio fence, and knew it had to be Refried. I pointed at him, and said “I know who you are, sir!” before leaning over the railing to greet him. Refried is a bearded gent with a twinkle in his eye, and a freshness of response to others not quite extinguished by years of hard thinking and a sip or two of tequila. Refried’s afternoon in the bookstore landed me a Bukowski novel full of booze, big-assed women, and terse postal rage, which I finished a couple of days later. Everyone else got a Vonnegut, which I’m sure they’ve yet to start. Company chided pursuit of too literary a bent in conversation with Refried, so we contented ourselves with chainsmoking and chat. It is understood we’ll compare reading histories and tastes soon over a leisurely lunch —perhaps at the famed Dandy del Sur. So topics ranged from books to drinks to film to Reader blogs to our respective occupations.
Talking with Magics was easiest in the car dropping me back, when she raved about the evening’s success, and her visit home thus far. After a few watery whiskey sours, beers, and desserts, we posed for several photographs taken by obliging bar patrons.
Home myself, I checked my camera for the photo of my new blogger friends. Sepia-tinted, a bit grainy, but evidence of a smile or three comes through. Salut!