Some scraggly looking man came in with a few friends just before closing and she suggested I flirt with him. I looked at the man again. He was moderately good looking, but wearing a ridiculous hunting cap—you know, the kind with ear flaps that models were wearing in ads for about five minutes but otherwise have been off the scene since your ancestors really did shoot their dinner. Remembering her gullibility and forgetting her lack of a reference point, I decided it would be funny to pretend that I couldn’t flirt with the guy because he was Paul Rudd. “Who?” Well, he’s kind of a movie star. “So?” And he’s married. “I don’t buy it. Look at that hat.” Okay, I’ll prove it.
I was watching Bukowski: Born Into This the other night and in some special feature the filmmaker commented that he thought Hank wouldn’t have wanted him to make the film he did because it got too close—it showed the duker as vulnerable and often afraid. I thought, ‘Were you reading the same poetry I was?’ To my mind, vulnerability was the force behind every hard line that man ever wrote. If you were looking, you got close a long time ago.
I once met a man who could stare into my eyes and at my breasts simultaneously. Not one eye here and one eye there. No flashing back and forth. What was going on, I believe it’s what’s called a thrall. And we were never introduced, so it’s misleading to say I met him. But it’s a strange story and it has to start somewhere.
There are different kinds of paternity. You have your father and your father figures and then, as we have touched on before, you have those people whose brilliance propels your craft—the fathers of your art. Much in the way that I imagine many American writers of the Twentieth Century felt when a Russian named Vladimir Nabokov came to this country and wrote in our language with more elegance, nuance, and sensitivity than any of them could, it maddens me that I cannot be Sam Shepard.