I need to stick my fingers inside my head and massage my brain, to see if any memories can be coaxed out. As if I could do that. I can't even reach my toenails to trim them anymore. They are getting longer and longer and the nails are starting to cut into their neighboring toes. A hell of a note. (Who said that? I can't remember, though it was current when I was a kid. Hey, something got coaxed out even without me fingering my brain.) Right now I'm thinking this weirdness is better than nothing. It is alcohol induced, I'll admit. A while ago I fixed a drink in preparation for calling someone who was showing signs of desperation on Facebook, and then I called and he said he'd call back but hasn't so far, and I've been drinking and starting to get just a bit not not high. Someone else probably saw the desperation first so I was superfluous. It's a good thing I'm typing and not talking because right now I couldn't pronounce superfluous, and the human voice has no pronounce-check on it. Thank goodness computers don't drink.
Goodness. Somebody used to say "goodness!" Yes, it was Roger. Roger the teenyboper, who was the only person under forty or so I can recall meeting who was actually named Roger. Roger was an old guy's name in those days (the later 1960s.) The Roger I knew was young, though he wasn't that much younger than me— perhaps five or six years— but at 21 or 22 five or six years seems like a lot. He was one of a group of kids who used to hang out in a donut shop I frequented, where I would write, and he recognized me one day as someone who had sometimes visited his older former next door neighbor from time to time a few years earlier. I was rather impressed that he remembered me, though I had no memory at all of him, so I would talk to him and his friends quite often instead of writing, and then write about him and his friends later, in notebooks that were in a drawer in my house in Paradise when it burned. Now I can't remember anything that I wrote about them, though I'm sure I mentioned the fact that when I said anything that amused or interested Roger he would say "goodness!" I liked Roger. I wonder whatever became of him?
But a donut shop as a place to write, yeah, that's a bit weird. But then I also used to write in the coffee shop of a bowling alley across the street from the shopping center the donut shop was in. Donut shops, bowling alleys, greasy spoon diners, just about any place I could buy a cup of coffee and sit at a counter or table on which my notebook could rest. This went on for a few years. Some places my peculiar behavior was not welcome, and I never returned to them. In one coffee shop a waitress scolded me for taking up counter space, saying "this is a place of business!" A bus station coffee shop in downtown Los Angeles lost my custom when a waitress, while I was writing, pushed my notebook aside saying "you cant do your homework here!"
Other places, they had no problem with it. The waitresses in the bowling alley coffee shop patiently refilled my ten cent coffee cup multiple times, never criticizing. One named Dolores was my favorite there. At a 24-hour greasy spoon not far from my house my favorite was a young waitress named Peggy, who sometimes read a few paragraphs of my writing when she had a bit of spare time. Downtown, where I didn't go too often since to get there I had to pay bus fare that cost me the equivalent of what is now almost four bucks in today's money, there was Dorothy, a middle-aged midwesterner who worked nights at a small counter coffee shop on Hill Street, and who liked the songs I played on the jukebox. I think I wrote about her in a livejournal entry many years ago, and how a few times I swept the sidewalk in front of the place for her, on the balmy Los Angeles nights when cars were few and the pedestrians even fewer. I wrote about her then, too, but can no longer recall what I said. That fire subtracted a lot of my memory.
Yeah, the donut shop. It was counter service only, so there were no waitresses to get huffy about my lingering, only the counter kids who couldn't have cared less. It was in a fairly new shopping center that had replaced a funky old market that had been built gradually and cheaply over many years, and they finally made enough money to build anew, and put up a basic big-box type place that was encrusted with faux-Victorian (very faux) details, and it was a delightful bit of tacky ridiculousness on the hodge-podge suburban boulevard along which the kids cruised on Friday and Saturday nights. The guy I was then had very mixed feelings about the area, but that didn't stop me from going there hundreds of times over the years. Oh, the years! And now I drink a little bit more than usual and the ghosts come back to haunt me. But they are so vague! And now is so strange! It's like standing in the dark on the edge of a cliff with a storm of colorful but old confetti swirling about me in a confusing, sad, fascinating blur. My feelings, I find, are as mixed as ever. And I still wonder whatever became of Roger. Perhaps it's best that I don't know, considering that I do know what has become of the world since then. His memory is better off there. So is mine.