They would meet every day after work; the local liquor, kebab shop was their meeting place; their sacred meeting place, ripped fully with the coronating fumes of dancing dancing slabs of lamb and pure liquor sickness. It was their own royal hall topped with plastic, bent thrones of the worst decree, of the most torrid conditions.
There were two of them. One was a blonde-haired, mustached athletic man, aged twenty-five years. The other was a brunette-haired, bearded man - not quite as athletic and more inclined to read a book than join in a spontaneous game of throwing a ball in a netted, iron basket. Also aged twenty-five years. The blonde-haired man had been raised aquatically, his flights of fancy securely latched to the art of fly fishing, which he vehemently defended as an art until the day he died. As a teen, the brunette-haired young man had been a chess champion, and still rested on those laurels quite regularly; most notably when the topics of war or strategy came up, which they often did.
The two young men had met in grade school, immediately bonding over their tempestuous feelings towards everyone and everything around them. This bond, packed to the brim with healthy frustrations, led them to the bottle at a very early age. Drinking liquor and observing the world through their shared powdered lenses were their favorite pastimes.
Once the meat of the day had marinated, the two young men would meet at the liquor, kebab shop to put back forty ounces of malt liquor and have a deeply motivated conversation about everything that had bothered them that day.
"I would never follow a bad driver into war," the brunette-haired young man said.
The blonde-haired man would have audibly agreed had he not had his lips fastened to the glass neck of his liquor bottle, so he agreed with his eyes.
"A bad driver is an inconsiderate driver, and inconsiderate leader," the brunette-haired man continued. "Whether he realizes is or not, he is leading other cars; there are other cars with other drivers behind him. The scoundrel who refuses to communicate his maneuvers to those behind him is no man I would ever follow into the field of battle!"
The blonde-haired young man, now free from the bottle, chimes in. "Nor would I ever follow a thief into battle who decidedly drives with such speed that he puts his own life and the life of every other driver in danger...I would never follow that man...or woman!...into battle."
"As you know, I have a keen sense for strategy and war, being a former champion of such games, and I can assure that a man who makes slow turns, forcing those behind him to brake, forcing an unnecessary hiccup in the flow of life - I can assure that man is stuck in the past, and he will never take the time to think into the future; to plan his next move; to care for anyone but himself. He deserves to be court-martialed!"
"Dishonorably discharged!" the blonde-haired man screams. "I've never seen so many horrible drivers, horrible soldiers and leaders on the road. The road is crawling with insects of the most futile and ancient disorientation."
"I will drink the rest of this bottle of malt liquor for those who refuse to be sucked into the pool of viral inconsideration. I drink to those who I would follow into battle; to the men who understand that they are leaders whether they like it or not."
"To those men, to those leaders we drink. Down with the dull-minded toads!"
Heads cocked back, the lumps in their throats work to push the malt liquor down into their bellies. They sit, full and healthy, happy and drunk. They are two young, grumpy men.
A man needs a craft, and I say 'a man' because I am a man. I would refer to 'a woman' if I were a woman, but sadly and happily, the both of them, I am not. So I will continue as a man, offering the thoughts I have thunk, coincidentally, as a man - which, if you have forgotten already, were resting on the topic of a craft.
It, a craft, matters to a man in a way that provides such stability and purpose in his life so that nothing else can possibly fall by the wayside. So that nothing else can get stuck with the shaft of neglect - the ugliest and most piercing of all shafts. The money nor the fame do matter, it is the act of the craft and the feeling a complete work gives a man - it is something no other person can give them, however, without it, there are so many feelings and emotions a man cannot give. Therefore, a craft, for a man, is paramount in his progression as a human. A craft allows a man to love, it allows a man to fight, it allows a man to build a life. A craft, for a man, sets him free. Decidedly, for a man, the mastery of a craft takes guts. Bloody, horrible guts - we all have them, the guts. Take them, use them - these guts.
November 10, 1958
We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.
First—if you are in love—that’s a good thing—that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.
Second—There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.
You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply—of course it isn’t puppy love.
But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it—and that I can tell you.
Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.
The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.
If you love someone—there is no possible harm in saying so—only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.
Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.
It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another—but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.
Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.
We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.
And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.