“You can have it, I don’t ever use it.”
“No, I can’t just take something that doesn’t rightfully belong to me.”
“Okay then, buy it from me.”
“Five bucks, I’ll give you five bucks.”
“Deal, now don’t bother me about it anymore. It’s yours, for good or worse.”
And that goes down into the history books as the best wheeling and dealing I’ve ever done in my life…well, besides getting a free car from some cool dude out in California. The five bucks was the best investment I’ve ever made, hell, I’ve paid more than five bucks for a shitty beer at some fancy tap room before. Five bucks, think about it, you could get like two gallons of premium gasoline, you can get two hot dogs at a gas station, you might even be able to get a 40 of Olde English 500, no scratch that, you’ll probably be able to get three of those damn things.
But the question is, who would actually want three of those? Who would want two gas station hot dogs? Who in their right mind would spend more than five bucks on 16 oz of a beer in a joint that probably inflates the price of your beverage five times just to be able to charge you for ambiance….I’m pointing at a few places….but that’s not the point. Think about it, five bucks, how long do you have to work for five bucks? Is that 20 minutes of your day, do make that much as you sit on the toilet and shit at work? Do you have to sweat and bleed for it as you dig holes for a living. Five bucks, think about it, five….just five. Hold up your hand, count your fingers (unless you’ve had some sort of freak accident), five, there are five there.
Charles Bukowski once said “dull days and night and no meaning, no chance, now 60 years worth: a dollar and 20 cents.” It was a statement of despair, it was a statement of pain, but it was also a statement that very cleverly illustrated the life that he chose. Wine and poetry, the romance of various women, roach infested apartments, working in mail rooms, that was his life, and then he found himself at 60 years old on a side walk and realized he had one dollar and 20 cents to his name. I’m not sure where he went from there, but I do believe it involved hustling and perhaps some horse racing. Later in his life he developed a new motto “mostly not wanting to wade in shit forever, and although shit was a good teacher, there were only so many lessons and then it could drown you and kill you forever.”. Drowning in shit, how awful.
What does this have to do with a five dollar purchase? Everything and nothing. Perhaps with inflation if Bukowski were alive right now that one dollar and 20 cents would be equal to five dollars…and he could make the investment that I did. Buy a second hand, very well used laptop, and use the shit out of it. I had means to go out and get whatever the fuck laptop I wanted at the time, the world was my oyster, I was spoiled rotten and I had dreams of becoming a writer of sorts. Like any other writer, however, I felt there had to be some sort of drama placed at the start of my career as a writer. The drama for me was buying this laptop, which has served me well for four years now, and served well four years prior to my acquisition of it. I have no complaints about it, it has character, it has memories, but most importantly it’s mine.
Mine. I don’t share.
This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but boy howdy, it sure is. This laptop not only carried me through my darkest hour and helped me write a book, but it also followed me across country being bounced from hotel to house to hotel to house, and then hotel again. Three weeks of being hauled in and out of a big old red car and thrown on random floors. It stood the test of time, it was always there for me, and it still is. I can complain that it doesn’t have a fancy new operating system, it doesn’t have a touch screen, it doesn’t fold four ways, hell, you can’t even run the thing unless it has direct current to the wall. Some people would say keeping something like this think is pointless, this machine is a dinosaur. Yes, it is, but it’s my dinosaur, and nobody else can have it.
Dim lights, draw curtains, expose the scene of a naked person sitting grasping their legs to their chest cold, naked, afraid, trembling. That’s what the writer feels, or at least the good ones, when they sit down to compose some prose. Naked, exposed, their underbelly showing, their feelings out in the open and shamelessly sharing the deepest thoughts, whether they’re fact or fiction for the world to interpret. There will be fans, there will be nay-sayer, there will be people oblivious to the fact that the writer even exists, but the writer knows. Ever key stroke, every word, every page, paragraph, poem is all exposing a true emotion. My true emotion comes out on this dinosaur of a machine, I’ve tried others, I’ve cheated on this machine, but I always come back to it. It’s faithful, it’s true, most importantly it’s mine.
“they’ll trap you and they’ll use you before you even know, but love is blind and you’re far too kind, don’t ever let it show” Words pouring from The Faces in an oddly compiled song that depicts that foreshadowing is only foresight and knowing where life is going to take you is a waste of time. One day you can be on the top of the dung heap, the next day you’re the one building the dung heap, then you’re the one making the dung. Life can be yanked out from under you, when you least know it, life can be smooth sailing, fancy car and house, dog and children, corporate office – bam – you’re hit by a mother fucking train going 70 mph. What then? Did you have a good life, did you leave anything behind before you became a grease spot on the tracks? Probably not, your house will be sold, your kids will grow up with a new step parent and your dog will die. Time passes on without you. You have no control.
You do, however, have control over what happens in this exact moment, take this for example…Riders on the Storm is playing on my Pandora station and I fucking HATE that song. It makes me think of a dead ex boyfriend, a scene from the movie The Doors, and its one o’clock in the morning and I haven’t gotten a good lick of sleep since somebody left by bed a couple of days ago. Do I change the song, no. Do I forget the dead ex, no. Do I wish that body was here right now, hell yes….but look at it, what do I have control of, all the nos. I CAN change the song, I CAN forget the dead ex, but I cannot magically make a person appear. So five dollars…I could spend it on gas, hot dogs, or Olde English, but I invested it into a used laptop. See the parallels yet?
Let’s review. Five dollars for the laptop, 2500 miles across country with it never giving out, still giving faithful service, why would we get rid of it?
Curtain close….the thunder of the song Riders on the Storm comes on….Curtains open and silicone injected breasty women, men sculpted from clay, action figures and barbie dolls come marching out. The newest, latest thing, the think you’re supposed to be, have, want. The temptation is there, you want to try to sculpt yourself into a David like statue, you want a body like on the cover of Cosmo, and hell, we all want to be trendy. Curtain close, scene goes dark…no music. Curtains open.
Nothing. You see nothing. You’re used to being entertained, but all of a sudden there is nothing, you’re left with yourself, your thoughts, your imagination. What outlet are you going to use, your breast implants, your six pack abs, your trophy wife? A blank slate, make it what you want, and that’s what this laptop is for me. A stage that has been set up for me, with all sorts of files that I have no idea what they are and programs that I have no idea how to use, but I keep them, because it gives me a backdrop, a stage, a scene to work from. Go out and get a brand new laptop, see how much inspiration you get out of it…I’ll tell you right now, none. It’s like a chalk board with white chalk, you can write all you want but it will never explode and make an impact. You need some color in that shit.
I will admit to changing the song Melissa, and to my pleasant surprise that groovy song about being groovy came on by Simon and Garfunkel and magically I was taken back to the first time I ever s…..never mind….The point is, change is good, but only when you’re absolutely in pain over something. I haven’t been pained by my laptop, it has never let me down, it has never just broken, it has never even given me the blue screen of death. Melissa however…that’s another story, I can hear it being sung poorly by several cover bands and I might as well jam toothpicks into my eardrums. I have a tolerance for things that sort of work, I have no tolerance for things that are just down right dysfunctional.
This doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t “work” in the conventional sense. For me “work” doesn’t happen during business hours, what I do to make money is a career, my “work” is to write. Without it, I’m a birthday cake without a candle, no flame, no excitement. I make money to support my ability to write in my spare time, in my spare time I write to keep from going mad (most of the time). So for five dollars, I would say I got an excellent investment. This old laptop and I, we’re tight, and if it dies tomorrow a little piece of me will die with it. I’ll never know what those weird engineering programs do, I’ll never know what the “Foster Files” are, and I’ll damn sure never understand what this eBahn software update is, but I’ll miss them all. They’re all a piece of me, and as for moving forward, I’m content with this. Painters still use paint to make masterpieces, musicians still use instruments to make beautiful music, and I could very easily pick up a pen and start pouring my thoughts into a piece of paper.
I have poor penmanship.
When I first started writing, maybe in 2003 or so, I started a journal of quotes, excerpts, topics of interest, and just random thoughts that I thought I could write about. The very first one was:
“Today’s pig is tomorrows bacon”
But it’s already tomorrow. And I’m ready to compound on the next excerpt, but my five dollar machine is tired, I’ve been typing for an hour, and well, I guess sleep is something that the common human needs. Running on caffeine and chocolate milk only works for a little while. I’ll turn in, with the Rolling Stones telling me that their coat is torn and frayed……much like I feel.
But in dismissal, remember, you can’t miss what you never had.