Childhood was the greatest time for Timothy, and he remembers it that way. No disposition on the fact that his parents divorced when he was eight. Just old enough to develop a mental connection with the idea of a union. So when he was ten, his father remarried, moved to a farm in the southeast, and tried living off the land. The topic of an ecological environment had hit the internet heavier than global warming hit the ice caps. And everyone was pursuing happiness with steep drops in city living, and an up swing in rural living.
Timothy's mom refused to believe it though. She wrote about such cultural climates, the invasion of neo-british pop boy bands, the decline of football, and the hippie lifestyle clawing its way back up the columns of big city papers. So when the recession hit, and it suddenly became cool to dress like a homeless person, she saw the disgust, moved overseas and focused on the world-political spectrum.
“Societal fads be ******! I'm going to do something that actually matters.” And she did.
Timothy Glasser, age 82 looks back on that moment with pride.
“There was a sense that she had the ***** to change the world. With Russia building up Imperial popularity, it was cool to be big. America was on the decline by the word of all the heavy-hitter magazines.
“That was when I started to take my life serious. She had shown me all the would-be Bob Dylans, Lennons, Hunter S. Thompsons. She would say, 'These kids have all the brass words of a ****** who can bite down ******* the world, but they don't have the actual brass. Men who are not recognized for what they've done have the brass. Hell, women have ten more pounds of that kind of brass!'
'I would laugh, but she was serious. I think she thought I was too masculine to understand what she was saying.”
When Timothy's father moved him and his little sister, Sunni Glasser out to the backwater community of Oggta-Cornelius, there was a certain relief in his demeanor. In a matter of months the country way of living had worn down his impatience to a sluggish pace.
“Greg was my father's name. He's been raised in a similar place in the Midwest, but the slowness of that life got to him in his teens so he left for the city. I guess when he met my step-mom he found the good ol' girl that he'd been trying to cling to since he left home. And it was Sunni's choice to come with us. She always had the same kind of 'brass' Mom had, but there was a closeness she shared with Dad that adventure couldn't break. It's a **** shame too. But once the slow pace of the backwater hit Sunni, she rebelled. It was a catastrophe to watch her and Dad argue over the most petty things you've ever seen. The way our step-mom, Claire would fold clothes or how early she had to wake up in the morning for school. Five o'clock, five days a week, and sometimes Dad would wake her on Saturday just to punish her for talking back. There was always blood in the water.”
Timothy's face settles, his lower lip curls, and his eyelids clinch for a moment before he changes his position in his chair.
“Is everything okay, Timothy?” I ask.
There is a pause, almost as if he is reliving what he was just describing.
“**** has always been real, you've been fantasizing.” I hear him say. He refuses to look at me, let alone answer my question.
“Mr. Glasser?” I ask again.
He exhales suddenly, eyes watery, and lets out a sigh.
“Let's talk about Sunni. I never really talk about her much, and I think now is a good time. Don't you?”
I nod in agreement and try to give him a smile.
He still refuses to look me in the eye.
“When Sunni was in first grade, she was beginning to prove to be a bit of a handful. There was a small patch of corn out back. Maybe half an acre Dad keep for us to put up for the winter. Sunni was about seven years old around this time and she had the idea to make crop circles. Now I was out with my friends, played football in those days so I didn't have the time to be home all the time. Dad and Claire kept themselves busy with the work about the place, so Sunni got bored real fast. One day during the summer, Dad went to the store to get some groceries. A friend of his came up to him and said, 'I was up in the plane yesterday and I saw something strange in your cornfield. Like some kind of crop circle. Weird ain't it?'
“This rattled my Dad's brain for a few minutes until he got home and saw the two-by-four with rope tied to either end of the thing. Sunni was staring at the clouds and Dad walked over to her, and yanked her up off the grass. 'What are you doing flattening my corn for? Don't you know that's goin' to save us money in the long run?” She just stared at him. Not dumbfounded, just intrigued.
“That was kind of the starting point of their bickering. She had blonde hair running to the base of her skull brushed down neatly. A subtle blush in her cheek from the sun. And she always wore a dress, especially if it had sunflowers on it. She brought life to that house.
“On her tenth birthday, Mom sent her a touch screen phone, an iPhone, I think it was called with a two-year contract. It was so long ago minor facts like that seem to hang on for no reason.”
Timothy shuffles in his chair. Then clears his throat.
“Would you like to take a break, Timothy?” I ask him.
“I ignored most of the arguments Sunni and dad had after I graduated high school. As soon as fall semester started at Cornelius College I fled the backwater and started by life near the OceanFront. Oggta-Cornelius was divided into two sections: the Backwater and OceanFront. And like a sports rivalry there was always trash talk about the tax bracket you were in or how much you worked. After the first few weeks for sneaking into bars and partying on campus, the fun died down because of the arrests. I almost got caught twice, but my sixth sense for trouble tingled at just the right time. When the middle of the semester hit I was over-booked with mid-terms and reading assignments. I actually lived in my dorm then. Never really left the place. And soon fall semester was over. Nothing worth mentioning now. Sunni and I texted often, but she had become a brat and I wanted alone time to learn what I'd read. For everything literary to go beyond just test and quizzes.
“But right towards the end of the semester, one morning I was walking to an early exam and on the ground was a kid, a little older than me lying there looking up at the sky. I had the urge to walk up and ask him what he was doing, but it felt too rude so I left him. I kept walking and heard a voice call back to me, 'Hey, guy.' I turned around, 'Yeah you, come here.'
“I walked up to him, he motioned for me to kneel beside him.
'What day is it?
I told him it was a Monday.
'Really? Wow, must've fell out watching the stars with this gir--'
He reached to his other side, feeling for a body, but no one was there. He never broke eye contact with me.
'Well, with his lovely imaginary girlfriend I have. Her name's Elsie. She's a charm.'
I helped him up and he left without much of a goodbye. A disrespectful mysteriousness. And I didn't see him again till the weather warmed up in the spring semester. Which was a repeat of the fall.”
Timothy asks me for some water. I started to feel like I'm one of his grandkids. How far in the trunk of memories is he going for this information?
“Thank you. Now the next time I saw Alan was in a smoking gazebo along a walking path on campus.
'Hey, guy!” he shouted, getting my attention. I walked back to the gazebo, coughing as the smoke roughhoused it's way into my lungs. He had those circular shades on, like the one John Lennon wore back in the day. A tie around his head, a light blue button up shirt that hung loose off his think frame. His hair was long and parted, and he sported a straggly red and black beard.
'Top of the morning, ta ya.' he said, putting out a cigarette on the tray. I opened my mouth, but all that came out was coughing.
'Course, the Irish don't really say that. It's actually quite racist, but I'm half Irish so no skin of my knuckles. I'm a mutt.'
“He smiled with such pomp. The arrogance was so natural, it fit him like his face. Other people around him were having conversations about Samuel Beckett, John Irving, Stephen King, and Jimmy Hendrix tripping acid together in the great T.A.R.D.I.S. in the sky. I remember laughing at that. They were all smiling at the ludicrous actuality of it happening. And it was late evening.
'Stay! Be silly and merry with us!” he shouted. I held my breath and sat down. I never made it to the rest of my classes that afternoon or for the next week. Alan and I chilled in my dorm, burned incense and plotted a protest. The whole time I was telling him he had to be literal with the cause. It couldn't be just because the college bookstore sold shot glasses, but confiscated any paraphernalia they found in the dorms.
'*******,I say. It's hypocritical and a scam. Like police pulling you over for going two-miles over the limit because they need to feed their kids. It's a Darwin rip-off.'
“Later that week he took my phone while I was sleeping, got my number, and Sunni's too. He never asked if he could come over after that night. He just did.
'I thought it was cool since we had a good time.'
"I didn't know what to say so I let it continue. His reason for stealing Sunni's number still baffles me. He said he thought she was a girl I was into. She was my sister, he was right in his own way. It was a while before he ever texted her.
“The next time I saw him he told me, 'I feel like a clockwork man running on thousands of gallons of caffeine.' I laughed at him and told him to stop reading Burgess.”
I stop Timothy for a moment. “Anthony Burgess? The author of A Clockwork Orange?” He nods and goes back to the story.
“You know, with the Second Cold War flaring up again I don't think it's wise to be worrying about an old man like me. This has been a century of second fillings. There are still Hipsters running about. This makes me feel no better. I want to go home.”
“Alright Mr. Glasser, but can we reschedule? I need to finish this article.” As he rises out of the chair, he agrees and goes for his coat.
“One more question, Mr. Glasser. Can you give me another quote from Alan? A bit of closing for this bit?
He turns around and looks me in the eye for the first time since the beginning of the interview. He squints his eyes at me and says, “When we would hang out at the gazebo where we actually met for the first time, and after that week I got back in the habit of going to class and doing my work. As I would leave I'd say, 'Alright man, I'm off to class, to learn and stuff.' He'd moan about it, and say, 'Look at him now, growing old and dying young.' Behind that same pompous grin."
Pardon that it is fiction, but poetry has inspired this short-short story. Maybe the beginning of work on my novel, but it is along the same lines as "This is why the Hipster dies".