Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Not just a pretty face

“Why are the simple things always beautiful?” he used to shout to the audience.

On stage, he turns into this berated man, so angry and displeased with the world. He would stare at the audience in their plain black dresses and tuxedos, pointing his short fat fingers at them, asking them why.

And when the lights go out and curtains come down, he’d switch off. By switching off I mean slouched over the bar counter pissing himself after consuming half the nation’s worth of brandy. His eyes dazed, looking out into the cold. We didn’t know anything because he never talked about it. Thousands of people come to hear him talk and spit in their faces, but when the attention’s gone he’d shut up. Go figure.

This night is like every night, when the bearded man slouched over his beer and had a slight moment to himself before the next show. Sometimes we would think that he’s going over his routine – trying to get everything in order so the audience gets what they paid for – but then we figured he never gave a flying fuck about the silly people below the stage.

And it’s not like we didn’t try asking either. I knew Samuel from the past, and he was a jolly fellow who loved sharing the occasional story and good laughs. Something happened in-between being fat and jolly to turning into the fat version of Oscar the Grouch.

There were a couple of others besides me – regulars in the bar who just kinda stuck on for the end of the show. And by end of the show I mean End of the Show. With all that drinking and bathing in self-loathe, they’ve got a pretty hefty pot going on when the sucker’s gonna kick it.

I got my money on December.

The frost taps at the window, making cracking noises that scared the bar owner. Then he’d tell Gina to go tape up the damn windows so he doesn’t have to dock it out of her pay.

Gina’s a sweet one, always there ready to clean up after the poor sack. I reckon they used to know each other, but neither Samuel nor Gina wanted to talk or say anything about each other. All he does is make people laugh and then get drunk; all she does is laugh at his jokes and then clean up the mess afterwards. It’s a great relationship.

So on this night like every night, old Samuel got ready for the next round of sarcasm by downing his last brandy. All fired up, he’s take a deep breath and make his way to the front. Like always, he starts off with the line he’s known to be famous for – “Why are the simple things always so beautiful?”

“You sir!” he’d point his fat fingers at a particularly snobbish yuppie.

“What is the opposite of simple?”

“Complicated,” came the answer.

“They teach you to smirk like that in Harvard?” he’d spit at the man. And before he can retort, Samuel would move on to say the same question to five or six other snobs.

Complex. Compound. Contorted. Asymmetrical. Complicated. Convoluted. Brazen. Ravaged – the list goes on… But never was he satisfied.

“It’s all bloody messy isn’t it?” he’d scream at the pristine audience.

“Well I think it’s not the simple things that are beautiful, it’s the other non-simple junk that take the hell out of the meaning of the word.

“Any of you ever think about a mess that’s beautiful?”

A few hands raised.

“Don’t act classy with me you diaper-trained bookworm! You’re sitting infront of a man who’s asking one hell of a philosophical question here!”

A few put their hands down.

“The least you could fucking do is tip me. And laugh, damn you all.”

I never found it funny, but at this point the room would explode. I would look at Gina and she’d be laughing too, but not at Samuel. She’d take a long good look at all the civilized bullshit too proud to call Samuel a lousy no-good drunk and laugh.

Then they’d find each other, and if you look hard enough, you might see a smile come out of the stupid old fart’s face.

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