The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 12
The Emancipated Id
“Is this like some sort of beatnik place?” Rich asked as they got out of the car in front of the coffee house.
“Free thinkers and intellects,” she said walking to the entrance. “The people who will mold the next generation. They will open the minds of the world and bring in a society that will function and sustain itself for the betterment of all. We may see a utopian world within our lifetimes with people like these.”
“Sounds a lot like Marx, Linen, Stalin, and Hitler,” Rich said, “People like those.”
“You are about to be awakened,” she said.
They walked in and there were a dozen or so people. She greeted them all and introduced Rich. Some had gaping smiles while others were sad faced and serious, but for the must part aloof. Rich’s name was not as nearly important as theirs. There were nine tables in front of a stage. The stage was no more then five feet by four feet against a brick wall. Rich and Mary sat at a table and coffee was immediately brought to the table. Rich doused it with sugar and cream while everyone looked on in shock and mild amusement. The admiration Mary once had for Rich biking all the way to Maine had suddenly dissipated at the reaction of her peers. Rich recognized it immediately. It is something he tried to avoid all his young life. It’s how he was able to detect immediately where he belonged. One just tries a group until you stop seeing that look. He was now in the big leagues. These ones were snobbish intellectuals far beyond his potential. Knowing that gave him an edge.
Rich sipped the coffee with squinted eyes as everybody pretended not to watch. “Central American,” Rich said after tasting, swishing and swallowing.
A gaunt man with short dark hair said, “That’s remarkable. How can you tell.”
“It’s revolting,” Rich said and tried another sip waiting for a chuckle or two. There was a chuckle or two.
The gaunt man glanced curiously at Rich and stood. “Does anyone have a poem either of their own or someone else‘s?”
One male stood and went into and angry diatribe of verse for a minute or so about microbes infecting the living organism and killing it. Everyone gave rapt attention as if they understood every word and then snapped their fingers with approval when he was completed. Then a girl stood and spoke a long list of disjointed phrases, each in no way connected with the other, except they were in English. Once again, this was met with a chorus of snapping fingers. At one point, Rich thought it was one of those group reactions where someone tells a joke with a nonsensical punch line. Everyone knows it is nonsensical, except one person. Everyone laughs, except the one person and everyone cruelly stands by to see if that one person laughs. In this case, Rich refused to participate. No joke was about to be played on him.
“What do you think?” Mary said leaning close to me. “Isn’t this scrumptious.”
“I had another word in mind,” Rich said and she laughed tight lipped.
My mental wheels were turning to come up with a rhyme that would set this overstuffed group of snobs on their smug little buttocks. The gaunt man arose and took the stage and with dramatic flare eloquently spewed winsome words of gobbledygook as everyone hung on every breath and utterance with mesmerizing attention like honey hanging from a spoon. My inattention did not go unnoticed by Mary and few others. Especially, it did not escape the attention of the gaunt man.
At his completion everyone snapped and he said, “Perhaps our guest might like to recite something.”
Everyone was urging. Rich feigned reluctance. “I do know the one about Nan from Nantucket,” He paused and smiled. “Both versions.”
Everyone looked to the gaunt man to laugh. He didn’t, so they didn’t.
“Hey I got one,” Rich said and took the stage. He recited Casey at the Bat mocking the dramatics of the gaunt man. The snaps were rather unenthusiastic.
“Can you tell me what that swill means?” the gaunt man asked.
“Swill! Swill you say! I would so hope that Ernest Lawrence Thayer were here to defend his fine work,” Rich said. “To the ill-informed and literary illiterate it is mere folly. It bespeaks the human desire to topple the invincible. It is now that I have come to be inspired
There are things I’d much rather be doin’
Like getting on my bike and eastwardly movin’
Let not your mind by ruled by a Pecksniffian fool
Just for change try Freeburg or McKuen.”
Rich stepped from the stage. There were no snaps.
“Thanks for the ride Mary,” Rich said and toasted his cup to her and took a sip. “And thanks for the coffee.” He exited the coffee house and mounted his bike. He looked back through the windows and a discussion had already begun. Rich yelled, “Which way is east?” They stared and did not respond. “That’s Ok. It’s just as I thought.” He pushed hard on the bike and peddled toward. Hornell.
Rich was quite proud of his performance. He was playing a role. He took what little he knew and channeled it into a moment. He hoped that was not my only moment. He smiled and peddled hardily.
Rich stopped at a gas station and ask the attendant if there was a better way to Hornell rather than by the highway. He gave direction to Big Creek Road. It was a beautiful ride full of color and sound. The trickling of water from the stream alongside the road made him long for the meadow and solace it induced, but this too had its own calming balm. The way the bike leans into the contour of a bend in the road seemed natural. Several times he stopped at the tops of ridges to absorb the beauty of the countryside like a quilted blanket of oranges, yellows, greens, reds, and browns. He thought of the group back at the coffee house and how Mary did not really fit. If I knew the others I’m certain they did not fit either. The gaunt man created a following from the intellectually astute and emotionally inept. He began to scold himself. “How could I possibly stand in some type of judgment of them. In my present situation the best I shall ever do is a laborer, grill cook, or farm hand.”