October 26, 2006 GMT

The Hotel Colon in Sarmiento is the type of dump any respectable biker hankers after. The bar is the right length. Six people and it doesn’t feel empty; twelve and it doesn’t feel overcrowded. Sarmiento is a small town. I doubt there are more than twelve serious bar stool occupiers. The six in possession have been on the same conversation for a while. Maybe it began yesterday or last week. It is one of those conversations that expand over time and develop threads that go nowhere and are put to death. Mostly what is said now is in allusion to what has been said earlier and you would need to have been in on the conversation early to understand its direction – if it has a direction. I sit at the far end of the bar, order a small beer and watch the last few minutes of a football match on TV. The conversationalists seem content with my presence. The pool table to the left of the bar hasn’t been used in a while. It is there because this type of bar requires a pool table. The girlie advertisements for beer exist for the same reason. They are expected, as are the three tables, each with four folding chairs, arranged along the wall. The barstool residents would be uncomfortable were they absent. A young couple occupies the table closest to the door. I guess that they are students. She wears spectacles and is perhaps the more confident – or the more pressing of there relationship. The obligatory guitar case protrudes from amongst the bags and backpacks heaped on the floor. I wonder if they are waiting for a bus – or for a parent.
I imagine Josh or Jed calling home. “Dad, can you pick us up.”
I wonder if my sons are aware of the happiness I find in being asked. To be of use is a joy, no matter the time of day or night. I will bitch, of course. Bitching is expected.
I don’t ask how many Us is.
I don’t ask if the girl is a friend or a girlfriend.
Asking would be an infringement.
Of course I want to know – though not to judge, but because this is part of who they are.
However I do wish that they would sit a while in the kitchen once we get home, let me cook them something, talk to me, let me share a little of their lives. They tend to hurry straight upstairs to their room.
I guess it’s my age.
I’m sort of odd, an embarrassment.
You know? Having a dad in his seventies…And, yes, I am odd. I do odd things.

Posted by Simon Gandolfi at October 26, 2006 01:18 AM GMT
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