Today I sold heads for a flathead Ford. We had them in stock!
That line is from my younger drinking and darting days. There was this guy, barely old enough to get into the bar himself who used to show up in his auto parts shirt and plain pocket jeans about the time ladies would start showing up. This was after the bar owner made the massive mistake of changing from a dimly lit bar with a sunken dance floor heralded as a meat market by everyone who went there (and everyone did) to a beach themed place with a raised dance floor. It was massively crowded as a meat market, but a scant 20 people per night showed up once it went to the beach theme.
Why start with that quote and drift off to a conversation about the bar? Because the journey is the reward young grasshopper.
I don’t remember this guy’s name. He would talk quite a bit about his life. I would toss darts with him at one of the forward boards until my regular crew showed up for the rear boards. (It was a space/layout thing. Two boards up front by the door and two near the fire exit by the bar.) Please, don’t let me give you the impression I had any interest in his life, he would just talk. A good many people do that in bars, especially if you are engaged in darts or some other game. This place was a regular hangout because it was stumbling distance from where I was living. Friends would come over to my place, we would walk to the bar and they would be queen size sleeper sofa couch casualties.
Finally, after many weeks of him showing up in his auto parts shirt and not attractively cut plain pocket jeans I made the mistake of asking “Why don’t you change before coming here? There are still women showing up here who are looking for it.”
“I work in auto parts where anything is possible. Today I sold heads for a flathead Ford. We had them in stock! It was amazing! Anything is possible, except me getting laid. Last week I got turned down by a hooker and I had the money fanned out in my hand so she could count it at a glance. This place is on the way home. I’m just here to throw some darts and have a couple of beers before finally getting home from work.” was his response.
Well . . . a drunken man might have had a quick response. The fact it was early in the evening so I was still sober had my brain trapped by questions.
- What twenty-something with college bars and meat markets all around would _ever_ consider using a hooker?
- Who the ^)(*&)(*& would ever volunteer they were turned down by a hooker?
- How could any twenty-something who managed to hold down a job which allowed them to pay rent without roommates have _that_ low an opinion of themselves _and_ be okay with it?
For much of my hard drinking women chasing phase (well, hopefully it can go on longer!) that admission and the mental turmoil it caused haunted me. It would just pop into my head during periods of idle peace. While I have mentioned it from time to time when chatting with various friends, I’ve never managed to put it to bed, at least until this post.
Many years ago Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones stared in “A Family Thing.” It’s a funny, warm, perfectly done movie. I highly recommend you all rent a copy.
There is a scene in the movie where Robert Duvall’s character is outside giving his brother’s (James Earl Jones) son a barefoot in the snow tale of a many back home who was the sorriest sonofabitch he ever did see. He went on about the little bit of joy the man had finding a wife and their adopting a child only for the wife to soon die. The man kept the child and despite his abysmal conditions, still seemed happy. Finally Mr. Duvall’s character could take it no more and he asked him how he could possibly be so happy.
“Happiness is nothing more than having something to look forward to” was the man’s response.
It’s taken all of this time to put 2+2 together, but that must have been this guy’s philosophy in life. He found joy in being able to find an obscure or ancient automotive part and looked forward to a few games of darts along with a couple of beers on his way home at the end of the work week.
In short, the secret to happiness is aiming low.
For most of us, happiness was robbed at an early age. We had it beat into our skulls that one had to go to college and continue trying to work our way up the corporate scrotum pole to become a piece of shit like Jamie Dimon or that Wells Fargo CEO who thought it was fine to open oceans of new accounts for customers without their permission or knowledge. Most of us, thankfully, have far too many ethics to engage in financial fraud so we do not rise that high and those childhood mantras take away our happiness.
I think back to the older relatives I knew when I was 9 or 10. They smoked like chimney’s, drank like fish and most died before the age of 60, but they were happy. They graduated high school then either worked in a factory or “the trades.” Most got married early, bought a little house, nothing fancy, just a place for their family and that was really all they wanted. When their shift was over, that was it, they went home to spend time with the family. Yes, they could have had a nicer home and nicer cars if their spouses worked, but they didn’t have those aspirations. As long as everybody could fit in the ride they had and it reliably got them from point A to point B, that was all they cared about.
When the upper 1% started off-shoring all of the factories, spinning various fraudulent stories to justify it, they took away all chance of happiness from tens of millions, deliberately destroying American culture and the American family along the way, all so they could have “just a bit more.”
Perhaps the reason that auto parts guy’s story sticks with me to this day has nothing to do with the shock statement about a hooker turning him down. Perhaps the reason is, he was happy. He didn’t spend his free time learning new programming languages while writing and marketing books to try and make his life better. He defied everything teachers and society taught me. While he may never have a deeply funded Keogh or other retirement account which lets him enjoy his “Golden Years” comfortably, he probably enjoyed the good years a whole lot more.
This is one of the things I envy of Millenials. While _most_ seem to have went to some form of college for a while, they aren’t interested in a career path which robs them of time with friends and family today.