Cheeky Shag: That Time In The Desert Where I Thought Cactuses Were Telephone Poles And That I Was In The Desert
By Michael Kaczmarczyk
I once met a man at a bar who said he was a pilot and that he couldn’t swim, I guess I believed him at the time, even though he said it drunkenly and into his whiskey glass, and I couldn’t really comprehend what he was saying, because he was speaking Gibberish or Portuguese or some language that is talked about but never heard, I assumed that he and his co-pilot have an arrangement where the co-pilot makes the announcements on the airplane’s intercom and doesn’t report to the airline that pilot might not actually be a pilot or the fact that he can’t swim (a skill I’m sure is necessary in case an aircraft has an emergency landing in a body of water) for free drinks every time the two of them go to the bar after work. After all it is generally accepted that booze burns a hole in a man’s wallet as well as his heart.
There was no one seated on either side of the man so I assume that the co-pilot was either in the bathroom or the drunk man who was trying to pull the microphone out of the hands of the lead singer of some shitty garage band that was performing that night. I guess he really prided himself on the intercom thing and therefore had the impulse to grab a microphone and inform people about emergency exits in the near vicinity every time he got the chance. I recall my eyes darting around the room, because whether this man was being honest about his ability to provide air transportation on a commercial level or not, I knew it was important to identify my exits. Thank goodness I learned to swim when I was very young. Well I suppose I am both glad and disappointed by it. I guess I’ll have a good shot of surviving if a plane lands in a body of water, but because of this skill, I’ve inhibited myself, for I will never have the desire to become a pilot and get as far away from the ocean as possible, or as least as far away as possible for a man who has no desire to work for NASA or become and astronaut, after all it’s irrelevant because I’m sure it’s ironically true that astronauts absolutely must know how to swim. I guess I kind of like that…those farthest from the ocean know how to swim the best. How does one never get around to learning how to swim? I like the water, but I guess the ocean is pretty scary. Shark Week taught me that. I don’t remember how many moments had passed after the man spoke, but I assumed it was probably several. Upon realizing this I quickly notified him that I had no interest in conversing with him as I did not wish to waste an evening of decent conversation with a man who I thought was too drunk to form words. I was careful as to how I worded the last bit of that, in case the man would realize he had made a bad impression, and quickly try to remedy the situation by talking about a movie he saw at an old movie theater that showed old movies earlier that week. He didn’t respond and I walked away disappointed. I was too hard on the co-pilot though; he deserved his shot at the microphone if he had to put up with being stuck in a tiny cockpit with that guy for hours on end. I left the bar that night and went home, and as I laid in bed, I was afraid that when I grew old I would forget about my small, brief interaction with the man, because the small, brief memories seem to fade to the back of your mind the older you get, and you forget about how weird everything gets in your mind at random places, random times, with random people, which I find really sad.
Life is for the weird, and dreams are for children who grow-up to enjoy watching old films in old theaters on at-least a bi-weekly basis, and think about how far they’ve come, and how they were once children dreaming of things before it all got so weird and life was filled with understanding the understanding that nothing is permanent and everything is constantly changing and it’s important to cling to the stories that you fabricate in your mind of bars you’ve never been to and people you’ve never met. Truth is dead most places, especially the mind, but if I find my life ever to be void I read the small printed words next to the asterisks on the bottoms of grocery store coupons and the contents of the text boxes that Tetris together to make up the obituary section of the local newspaper.
© Michael Kaczmarczyk