Rendered Fat Content


"Just who could I think of myself as being otherwise?"

Back in the days when high speed Internet access was scarce, I took to writing at Starbucks when away from home. I'd arrive when they opened at five am, and settle in to write at a front table looking out on a deserted street while conversation from across the shop grew increasingly loud and occasionally annoying. I'd slip in and out of my writing coma, barely aware of my surroundings. An hour or so later, I'd finish up, surprised at just how bustling the place had become. The early arrivers seemed to invariably be older men. Their conversation an unsurprising mix of sports, politics, and local gossip. They seemed insular, a self-contained little society, probably life-long friends. They seemed to be on a first name basis with the counter help. I seemed hardly a shadow there, myself.

As I've grown older, I feel a growing compulsion to get up and out early in the same way as a younger me might have felt compelled to go out in the evening to mingle with crowds.
Or, not so much to mingle as to take advantage of the bounded solitude offered there. I could be publicly anonymous, still safe within my head, overhearing snippets of others' conversations while I'd read my paper, New Yorker, or newsfeed. Maybe a game I didn't very much care about would be on a flat screen, and I could absorb some semblance of socialization without smearing anybody's nose in my presence. Now, I prefer diners, though their dishwater decaf deeply offends me. I take to my stool and exchange pleasantries, observing the best buddies breakfasting around me.

As someone who spent most of his life far from my homeland, I lack a cadre of lifelong friends to meet up with in the morning, though I doubt that I would have accumulated one had I stayed closer to home. I have always been more of a loner, satisfied with assimilating my camaraderie from safe isolated distances. Maybe I'm out there trying to get my worm, an OilyBoyd pecking away at an indifferent world. I imagine that my fellow OilyBoyds might be seeking their worms, too, demonstrating that they still have what it takes. Ours might be a silly sort of race where we show our resolve, our dedication, by simply showing up earlier than almost everyone else. We come in first at the start of this race, recognizing that we're unlikely to any more come in first at the end of it.

I feel fiercely dedicated to early rising. I'm proud that I'm up before everyone else in my neighborhood, and I might want to show off a little, but just a little. I might find the burning need to head out to the supermarket at five thirty when the aisles are crowded with clerks stocking shelves. The checkers aren't even on duty yet. I sense that I'm an unwanted alien presence then, not the valued customer any mid-morning shopper might become. Nobody's on the road yet. I have the freeway all to myself. I seem to float free of confining crowds, self-reliant in my secret little dependency. I really need to be up and out. Just who could I think of myself as being otherwise?

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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