Barbarism


Only in New York: The Bright Side
May 28, 2010, 1:31 am
Filed under: SARAH | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Drinking alone in my favorite bar the other day, I am surrounded by bums like me. We like this bar because we can be bums here and still feel respectable.  It’s a well-kempt dive.

The TVs mounted to the wall at either end of the counter play old James Bond movies on loop. If I look up, I see a sun-tanned Sean Connery in a speedboat that is skirting the face of a Technicolor ocean. At his side is a blonde. Sean steers the speedboat and the blonde simultaneously, and with a minimum of effort—the same way he slides into a bed and shoots his gun.  It’s all so easy for him. I wonder if he ever worries that someone else is living his life, or that he’s not living at all.

Two middle-aged men seated to my left are sharing a bowl of peanuts and drinking whiskey. The stocky man named Larry wears a gray suit without a tie. He’s got thick fingers and a rat-a-tat-tat patois straight from the Bronx.  He’s a Get me another Scotch, sweetheart kind of guy.

“I only got about 8K left in investments,” he’s telling his gray-faced companion as he cracks open a peanut pod. He talks through the nuts. “I got burned bad a few months ago.”

“So get this.” He drops the peanut shell into a pile on the counter and frames the air with his open hands. “I’m laying in bed. It’s two o’clock in the morning. It’s, like, I dunno, I get a vision. I swear. I get a vision. A vision, a voice, or whatever, is screamin’ in my ear: I gotta buy Sun Microsystems!” He grasps his belly.  “It’s like my gut is talking to me. Buy it! Buy it!

“Jeez, Larry,” says his friend.

“So I run outta bed to the computer and Bam! I buy a few thousand shares—“ Larry raps the counter with his hands—“And it tanks.”

“World events are changing everything, my friend,” counsels the other man. “You suffered with everybody else.”

“I got killed in the stock market in 2009. Killed!”

“You and everybody else.”

“And then I got involved in a mutual fund in Bulgaria.” Larry wags his finger. “Very dangerous. Very dangerous. I got burned.”

Larry’s friend shakes his head. “Crazy.”

“Yeah, very dangerous. But that’s what I do. That’s the market. I’ve never sniffed twice before I jumped in. But I never ever seen nothing like this.”

“That’s for sure.”

Larry leans in closer to the peanut bowl. “But have ya seen the numbers on gold and silver?”

“Gold and silver?”

“That’s right, gold and silver.” Larry whoops, “I’m crazed! It’s at 1290 now. Gold’s gonna hit 3500 soon!”

“Now how come?” His friend signals for another round.

“The only thing we’re doing good in this country right now is engagement jewelry,” says Larry.

“What the hell is going on out there?”

“It’s simple,” says Larry. “People get married. They get divorced. They get married again.  A bad economy can kill a marriage, right?” Grinning, Larry lifts his glass.  “And divorce is gonna save the economy.”

They drink to that.

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