Started out this morning with sixty-five bucks in my pocket. Now, when I turn the pocket inside out, it’s empty.
- $20 for driver’s license renewal at the station on Razorback Rd;
- $5 for coffee, cookie, and tip at the Arsaga’s at the library;
- $10 toward a tip for a massage at IM Spa;
- $10 for lettuce and flowers at the Farmers’ Market (the vendors were packing up and hustling off when I got done with the massage); and, last but not least, out of chronological order here but forming the climax of the list (drum roll, please)
- $20 for a sidewalk poem (tah-dah!).
By the time I got to the spa and parked in front and plugged the meter, it was 11 am and my wallet was down to $40. What the hell. When the tall young man approached me for his spiel, I knew I was a goner. He said he was a poet and recited poems aloud. He said he was from Santa Fe, and got kicked off a new acquaintance’s couch this morning in Fayetteville after rolling into town last night. He allowed as to how Motel Six was the cheapest bed in town at $41.95. He held out his hand.
All right, I conceded. Let’s have it. And he gave it to me, standing in the street, between my car and the next, something moral and uplifting, this wannabe Rumi recited, about listening to conversations as if they were the final words between a father and a son, for, it turns out (so the poet suggested), they always are.
Point well taken, I said. I like the strong moral, I allowed. Sure, the poet said, that’s why I like it too.
So I handed him an Andy Jackson from my billfold (I had just two twenties now), and he said, No shit! Thanks, man! Hey, would you like to hear a joke?
Why not? I said. I was agreeable. This was an encore, yes? A good return on my investment? Shoot!
Why doesn’t a blind man parachute from an airplane?
Geez, I said. I have no idea. Why?
‘Cause it freaks the shit out of the dog!
Oh, my young fellow! Oh heavens to Betsy! Heavens, I’m falling on the ground! Don’t do that to an old man, young man! Oh my! My eye! Oh my!
At which he sauntered away, smiling, to ply his trade elsewhere, and I went chuckling into the spa, where I submitted my wrinkled flesh to a full hour and a half of pummeling on the part of the young maseuse.
Damn, girl, I said, when she was done jabbing and prodding and rubbing me. That was both sensual and powerful. I bet you could hold off an army with those thumbs, couldn’t you?
Possibly, she allowed, smiling.