“Why do you hang out there?” he asked. “With the homeless and the racists and the drunks and junkies and the dumb?”

“Don’t forget the real, roughneck bikers and hillbillies and rednecks and former strippers and thieves,” I said.

“So why?” he asked. “What’s to be gained? Is it nothing more than a spectacle to you?”

I said that it seemed most of the drama of real life wasn’t Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet or O.J. Simpson. I said much of it was drunks and housewives and biker chicks and adults who were once neglected or unwanted kids just trying to get by now.

I told him that if a poet hadn’t said that the aches and agonies of real life were more like the drunk’s and the common laborer’s than Anna Karenina’s, then by now some writer should have said it.

I told him from time to time I like looking in the faces and at the clothes and seeing the mannerisms of the silent strugglers, that include me. I said I’m not terribly afraid anymore of looking in that mirror to see how the young and smooth face has turned grizzled. I said from time to time it seems like the thing to do – trying understanding a bit more about all our troubles, toils and turmoil.

I told him it wasn’t as easy getting war stories from toothless ex-strippers at the bar at Applebee’s. I told him nobody at the The Coffee Emporium ever talked about cashing in their 401K to pay off their child support and buy a giant mound of cocaine. I told him I couldn’t anticipate that happening over Berry Goat Salad and a Bumble Bee Buzz at The Emporium.

I don’t know who’s right or wrong, but I knew he didn’t want to believe or accept it. He wanted to believe there is as much drama and struggle and strife in the shadows crawling through the blinds and across the wall as in the banal struggles of most men sitting in bars where gnats, even in winter, buzz all about.

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