Monday, December 05, 2016

The time I was a secret poet (under the heading of "how crazy am I?")

We're going to travel back in time to when I was single, working at my first job.

I was as much a loner then as now, with no husband to buffer the gap between me and the whole wide world, as Cliff does these days.  My first apartment was at 2638 East 11 in Kansas City (not the best neighborhood, but much safer than it is now).  I caught the city bus a couple blocks down in front of Genova's Chestnut Inn, got off in front of Emery, Bird, Thayer downtown, and waited for the bus that would take me on to North Kansas City.  I worked for National Bellas Hess, a mail order catalogue for rednecks and very poor people who were glad to get low-grade products if they cost a lot less than Montgomery Ward's stuff.

I never had a single guest in my first apartment, although I lived there for at least a couple years.  People tend not to believe me when I say I don't have friends, but it's always been true.  By this time, it had become a deliberate thing.  If you don't try to make friends, you won't get pushed away and rejected, and nobody gets hurt.  I was on good terms with people at work; we joked around like co-workers do.  Two older ladies, Josephine and Edna, sort of took me under their wing and sometimes gave me advice.  I didn't date, although a couple of really nice fellows worked up the nerve to ask me; but I turned them down.  I worked eight hours, caught the bus, and went home.  I read a lot.  The magnificent Kansas City Library was a gold mine of books that I visited often.

I have often thought that if I were a man, I sound like the type who would buy a gun and shoot a bunch of strangers for no reason ("he was a loner, nobody really knew him).  But women usually only kill their children, their husbands, or themselves.  I had no husband or children, and I had no urge to off myself.  I was happy in the quiet apartment with my books, my stereo, and my little 17-inch TV.  I later moved to an apartment near my job, but my routine was the same except that I didn't have to ride the bus.  I should add that I spent most weekends at my parents' home in Blue Springs, and was in contact with lots of people there.

The annual Christmas rush was busy, with plenty of overtime for those of us working for mail order companies.  But about a week before Christmas and for a while afterward, business was as slow as molasses in January.  New-hires were laid off never to be seen again, since they could find a job anywhere that paid more than the minimum wage at National Bellas Hess.  Even so, there was little work for those of us that remained until the spring catalogue was released.  We slowed our pace.  Those who smoked made more trips to the rest room.  Hard to believe now, but once upon a time people could smoke in a public rest room.  I didn't smoke, but no law said I couldn't just go the the rest room, into a stall, and rest my feet.  Isn't that why they call it a rest room?

One day as I sat there pondering the vagaries of life, I noticed words someone had scrawled on the wall of the stall with a number 2 pencil.  It was just a word or two, perhaps dirty words, I don't know.  I studied them, noticing how clearly that number 2 pencil had made the words.  I got an idea.

From that time on until business picked up again and even after, I took a pencil with me when I went to the rest room.  It isn't hard to make up a four-line, simple rhyme, so every once in awhile I'd write a silly poem on the wall as I sat there.  I have no idea what they said, although I do remember the first two lines of one of the longer poems I penned there:  "What our boss needs is a robot... who would never smile or frown..."

By the time I had written three or four poems on various walls of stalls, I heard people asking one another, in whispers, "Who is writing that stuff in the rest room?" 

Of course, this inspired me to keep up the good work.  There was nothing off-color about what I wrote, I was just passing time, making rhymes (see?  It still happens!)

I don't know how long I did it or when I stopped.  Maybe not until I moved on with my life and got another job.  I can see now it was just another way for a lonely introvert to get some attention.  Nobody ever guessed it was me doing the poems.  

As the song "Frankie and Johnny" says at the end, "This story ain't got no moral, this story ain't got no end."

It's just a picture into the life of a budding, brooding introvert. 


Paula said...

Good for you Mosie.

Margaret said...

Your poems obviously brought enjoyment to others, and to you, so no harm done! I think I did for Patt what Cliff does for you. He was very introverted and I was his buffer.


Love this story. Heartfelt. Serious and sweet.

Carlene Noggle said...

I am a lot like you.

Mary Degli Esposti said...

There are plenty of loners who are not filled with anger, fear, & resentment. I think the ones that do hold that trifecta are the ones who shoot up a bunch of strangers, not a person like you.
At different times I have seemed extroverted(seemed being the operative word), now definitely introverted, but except for my parents & my pets, I've always been alone...even(or most especially) in the biggest of crowds. Kinda thinking: Gee, these other people seem to mostly know how to do this....I think I connected fairly well with Russ because he's a bit like that also.