(This is the second in “The Grand” series. The first one was “Old Blisters” that introduces the cast of characters.)
It is another cold and windy night in Little Twig, Montana. The temperature had been below zero for almost a week, but with the rise in temperature to above zero, the wind had picked up again. You could hear it howl and it made the sign outside the saloon bash against the bricks. It was the usual cast of characters at The Grand sitting at booths and at the bar. Daphne is sipping a Sauvignon Blanc. She is dressed all in black with a jaunty grey cloche on her head. Cowboy Clay with a Chardonnay in hand is next to her talking to Carl who is nursing a micro brew when Sonny breezes in and sees a spot next to Clay. Claudia pours him a glass of Merlot.
Clay: How’s it goin’?
Sonny: Not bad. Just came in from Idaho and it’s really dry.
Clay: Is it like California? I hear that’s bad.
Sonny: Well, those Californians are just going to have to decide whether they want to take a shower and flush the toilet or eat.
Daphne chimes in: Is that really the choice? Flush or starve? Can’t the Ag business use less water? I mean it’s not like they are a bunch of small family farms growing enough for themselves and the people in their towns. Don’t they export most of the lettuce, tomatoes, pomegranates, almonds?
Sonny: Well, they are family farms, just really big ones. And they have the long water rights.
Well, the discussion went on for a few minutes about who owns what and how water rights came to be through mining rights and taxpayers rights versus corporations rights and Beverly Hills farmers and manifest destiny and survival of the fittest before a truce was called and they went back to talking about the weather.
Clay: Some trucker said his temperature reading went from 20 below to 60 below for a few miles past Reed Point.
Daphne: What shall I play on the Juke? Lorde or Alan Jackson?
Clay: Whatever you want, Darlin’?
Daphne: Oh and I brought some pears if anybody wants some.
Sonny: I’ll take two. I like to drizzle a little balsamic on them and sprinkle with a little blue cheese. Thanks!
I had fun last night. Different people have different ways of having fun. And most people have various ways of having fun. But one of my favorite ways of having fun is a lively discussion of something or other. In that respect, I should have been born French where I could go out to a cafe after work and philosophize with friends over a nice bottle of wine and some oysters and good bread. We could talk about anything but the weather unless it was about how the weather might influence our moods or our art. We could talk about who could call themselves writers and who couldn’t. Or who was an artist? Or was all life and thus all art futile?
I honestly used to have a lot more fun having discussions in New York. There was some chauvinism but not amongst the theater crowd I hung out with. In Montana, there is still a fair amount of male chauvinism. The men seem constantly surprised when I point out what I feel might be a contradiction. They prickle much more than if a man would make the same observation. Or most of the time just quietly blow me off by changing the subject. Still, even a brief glimpse into the mind of people different than me is fun. Vive la difference as the Frenchies would say.
The latest edition of “The Baffler” arrived yesterday and it is dedicated to the concept of “play”. I am excited. This has become a favorite topic of mine. For example, what’s wrong with having fun by just “wasting time”? “Nothing” agreed a friend of mine when he saw my “Just Horsin’ Around” Polyvore collection a couple of posts ago. It interested me to discover a few years back that the I.W.W. labor union fought for more leisure time rather than higher wages. They observed that in leisure time great things are invented like shish ka bob and polka, poetry and good looking chairs. In leisure people could also discuss who owned the water.
Sonny: Those water rights go back to the mining days before any kind of agriculture came to the West.
Well, just because that’s “the way it’s always been” doesn’t mean it’s the best way to live. Although I have to admit that I do like a nice warm shower and I’m not ready to go back to the two-holer out back for a toilet. No, that’s not fun.
As Daphne puts on her sheepskin coat and gloves and headed out into the vast and starry Big Sky night, she paused and rested her hand on Sonny’s arm:
“Nice talking atcha. It’s been fun.”
P.S. Watch this video of two young moose playing in a sprinkler while Mom watches. By Melissa Weiner Farrow. This is fun!