Erik Larson

Nov 14, 2008

Man on Main Street

Sometime ago, I was on Main at dusk, standing facing a man I’d just met, smoking a fag. He was engaged about local political issues, which I knew little about at the time, but he was quite amicable, and before long I think we were mutually gay. I asked for one of his smokes (looked a bit like a cigar), and received first a queer look, then my (perhaps dubious) prize. I suppose his confusion stemmed from my prior proclamation of quiting; he laughed when I offered Mark Twain’s famous quip that quitting was easy, as he’d done it at least a thousand times. At any rate, I’m sure he wanted to avoid appearing niggardly, with our chat going along so well.

Later, my new bitch trotted up to us, a Labrador. The man petted her briefly, then turned away to gawk, with me, at a passing jackass; perhaps it was a mule. It footed along the road in front of us, plodding a bit with the weight of several bulky burlap sacks. Strange.

We puzzled together at this for a few minutes, when a dick accosted us, pencil and paper in hand. He wanted to know about the jackass; apparently the owner suspected it had been let loose deliberately. After a curt and somewhat painful exchange the man jerked his thumb up Main Street, and the dick thanked us perfunctorily and went to apprehend the wayward ass.

I was, at this point, quite pooped, and so thanked the man with whom I had had such a gay time (in spite of the dick), and we parted ways. I saw the man just on one other occasion, standing out on Main, smoking a fag, animated in discussion about some island called Bali. I passed by without saying hello, but overheard some of his descriptive ejaculations, in particular his frequent use of the word “cock”, embedded, it seemed, in a larger narrative about fighting. Balinese cock fighting, I later learned. What a man. A learned and I think good man. Queer, but smart, and gay as hell. Here’s to you, man on Main Street. I hope someday we’ll cross paths again.