"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

12 February 2015

The Student, The Master, The Changes of Roles, and The Degrees of Cool

Thanksgiving, 1994; I had been twenty-two for two months and change. My daughter had been alive for a week. I only had one piercing, no tattoos, and had yet to sprout a gray hair...

For those just tuning in, I was not always the hoopy frood you know now. Very far from it. I was a rather awkward youth. Part of it was being an aberration; being too tall, too skinny, with eyes too big for the rest of my face. Another aspect was the bullying, which nurtured my solitary nature.

There were times I wanted to be someone-anyone-else so badly it physically hurt. Perhaps that is why I despise the concept of a persona so much now is during those ugly, painful, awkward years, I more than once tried to be something I wasn't. More than once, the results were disastrous. I have the metaphysical scars to prove it.

Once, when speaking of someone I admired to the point of idolization with my x-wife, I mentioned hoping to one day achieve their level of cool. My x-wife, the rebelling good Catholic girl who ended up with me to piss off her parents-to this day, I'd speculate-suggested instead of trying to aspire to someone else's level of coolness, perhaps I should aspire to my own. It was a backfist of perspective, which helped me ditch the idea of trying to be something I wasn't. Years later, I knew a cat who would speak of the importance of living one's own myth. Sometimes I wonder if his advice and my x-wife's are interconnected in queer way I've yet to fully understand.

When I first met Job, I thought he was so cool you could store cuts of meat inside him for a month. He was the master, and I, the eager student. We'd hang out at coffee and I'd devour his insights. His advice when I had a problem was invaluable. He was my guru. Me saying I was going to talk to Job was like the monks of old going to speak to the head of the order.

I think it was perhaps six months back I first noticed my conversations with Job had changed, and that was beyond the fact of his becoming born again. Certainly, we had, and still do, stimulating dialogues, but suddenly, I wasn't the one seeking advice. I was not the one thanking my friend for the insights.

We've known each other for twenty-one years and change now. He might be eleven years my senior, but I am no longer so wet behind the ears. Even back in the day, he appreciated what I had to say. Nowadays, it seems he treasures it even more.

I find myself queerly shocked...

During one of our conversations, he told me how he always looked forward to hanging out for my perspectives, because apparently not everyone sees things as I do. This is a good thing in my mind, because the world would be a really fucking boring place if that were the case. From his perspective, my passion was something he saw as a fire that burned hotter than a star, and like Hendrix, he wanted to stand next to it. He told me some of his acquaintances now think I'm his imaginary friend, because a cat like me shouldn't/couldn't exist. That many of those times I was going to his for insight and advice, he was taking from my perspective ways to, as he likes to put it, build a better mousetrap.

"I've always wanted to be Robbie Grey when I grew up," Job told me recently. I told him he gives me far too much credit.

I find myself wrestling with this. When did the student become the master? How did I ever get so cool as to win the borderline idolization of one of the coolest cats I've ever known? To me, this is shocking.

The man doesn't even drink, for fuck's sake, so I can't dismiss it so easily...

At one point, in recent years, I realized I truly do have back in the day stories. I know I've gotten where I have along this Tao of Chaos through a sense tenacity and perhaps a little-a lot?-of strange luck. Yet, when I talk to Job, I go into the conversation feeling like that wide-eyed whelp from years back. Nowadays, he talks to me as his guru and I don't know how to approach the subject.

Perhaps someone might say I've come into my own. It seems, were you to ask Job, I did that a very long time ago. Me, trying to work out this change in our metaphoric roles, thinks it's just a step along the way. Which one of us is right is purely conjecture.

January twenty-seventh, 2015. I've been forty-two for almost five months and my daughter is twenty. I have more piercings and tattoos. My hair's as thick and wavy as ever, although, there's a rather interesting blaze of gray along the right side. Just a few of the things that have changed...


  1. You looked, and look like a nice guy, somebody I'd get to know at the local watering hole.
    Dunno, I've been in both roles....the mentor and the mentee....not sure I've progressed from either.
    Still warm as can be here, near 60 of a mid february day. odd indeed.

    1. You flatter me, Sir. I just find myself gobsmacked. Kinda like when you remarked I seemed to have had some experiences and then proceeded to tell me about some of the places you've been and about the things you've done; I felt like I needed to at least get a desk calendar, because I don't do nearly enough with my time.

      Fifty-eight today. Rumors of snow come Monday, but I fear it won't be much, and I think it's going to be the heavy wet springtime snow, not powder. Read an article today that NASA warns the western US could be looking at megadroughts by century's end, like what drove the Anasazi away from places like Mesa Verde.

  2. Personally I don't trusty anyone who wasn't awkward-looking in their youth. You've definitely grown into your own sir. An admirable man, despite your assertions to the contrary at times :)

    1. I know no contrary, having not a contrary bone in my body, despite my daughter's-baseles! assertion that I have two-hundred six such such bones ;).

  3. It could be a bittersweet moment when one surpasses his master. But sounds like for you two it was mostly sweet and that's cooler than cold cut keeping refrigerators.

    1. I don't know if surpass is the right adjective. Despite the shift in our dynamic, there are still lessons to be learned, y'know?

  4. Your beard grew in nicely. :)
    (Forgive me. I am having a brain-dead day.)