Saturday, March 24, 2007

Punks never die, or A Day in Two Lives

I bumped into someone I knew in my teens on the bus today. It must be twenty years since I last saw him. He is close to a puliukko (wino), although a little cleaner (must live somewhere), drunk but coherent.

He was never the cleverest lad around, but kind. Tall, very tall - over two metres. The archetypal gentle giant, no mean streak. Anna **, Anna ** (he calls me by my maiden name, out of use for nearly twenty years), he keeps repeating, I can't believe it's you. All the guys died, you know, he says, Tino died, they all died, all the boys went away. But I'm still here, Anna **. His voice is huge, gravelly, specks of saliva fly through the air. You have to be kissed, he says. Leave off your kissing, I say, but nicely. He shakes my hands with both of his - giant's - hands. I do check in the splitsecond before the handshake and they are reasonably clean. How good to see you, he says, it should be a drink of light white wine with you and a chat. He gets off and kisses the window I sit behind. It wounds me to see him from a distance - head and shoulders above other people, his undone fly, his drunken gait. He stops to talk to a bunch of teenagers. I can see they laugh at him, to them he is just a pissed old loser.

I take stock:
I am proud of myself: I didn't pretend I didn't know him. I spoke to him like I would have had he not been a puliukko.
I am ashamed of myself: I should have, well, maybe not kissed him, but maybe a bear hug, one of his bear hugs.

Later, on the way home, the setting sun looks unnaturally big and red, the blackbird sings. When I get in I wash my hands (even) more carefully than usually. My older son is in playing computer games, but he is leaving soon, he is going to a gig, he says he's had a huge bowl of chips at his girlfriend's house. I want him to have some vitamins too, so I feed him grapes while he plays. We both find this amusing. When he leaves, I begin to make my vegetable quiche. I make it from scratch, always, with a generous teaspoon of basil in the pastry, except I use a special measurement based on the palm of my left hand.

Still later, I see the half-moon from my balcony, and a huge star, maybe Venus.


nmj said...

anna mr, this is a lovely post, a glimpse of your day. . .puliukko is a lovely word to describe something that is not so lovely. you shouldn't be ashamed that you didn't hug this 'friend', you treated him with dignity, others may not have, they may have been too nervous, too embarrassed... i am happy you gave your son grapes, and i am intrigued that you use basil in your pastry! i think i will go into my brother's garden now and look for the moon x

The Moon Topples said...

This post is beautiful, Anna. I've been reading you for quite a while in Bloglines, but am usually too shy to comment.

Venus is indeed very close to the moon this week, as I discovered while watching television.

Anna MR said...

Hey nmj love, great you had a moment sans nephews, lovely as they are - I've missed you!

Mr Moon, it is very wonderful to have you here and please never be shy again about commenting. It is totally unnecessary, your comments are, and will be in the future, most welcome. (But what are Bloglines?!)

Your name is Maht, am I right? I need to tell you, if you add an -i to make mahti, you have the Finnish word for power (as in might).

Isn't it somehow special to know we can all go out and look at the same half-moon and big Venus?

nmj said...

ach, i couldn't see the half moon last night, after all, but i am delighted to see mr moon aka maht over here in finland!

The Moon Topples said...


Thanks for being so kind to me my first time out of the shadows.

Bloglines is an RSS aggregator that allows me to read the oodles of blogs to which I have subscribed on a single page.

My name is indeed maht. I like the "mahti" thing, although power isn't really something I crave.

And the ability of all of us to wander out and look at the stars as though we were standing close to one another and not separated by thousands of miles is one that never fails to capture me. I have tried and tried to capture this sensation poetically, but am not a poet and fail each time.

And you may know this already, but I've added a link to you on my page to encourage my readers to come and check you out. I wasn't sure about the capital letters, though. Do you prefer lower case?

Anna MR said...

Hei Mr Mahti Moon, you are most welcome. Thank you also for linking to me, that's very kind of you. I don't run a "blogroll" (that word is dangerously close to toiletpaper in the mind of any British-English speaker), but if my friends haven't read you before, they can find you here in my comments now. Which is nice.

Uppercase, lowercase, I am not all that terribly fussy. This is how I write it: Anna MR.

Did the US move into summer time (daylight saving hours, whatever they call it - the Americans often have a really posh word for ordinary things so it becomes really hard to know what they talk about) this weekend? We Europeans did, as you probably know, and it's doing my poor head in for a few days anyway. It's not easy to function on three hours of sleep -

The Moon Topples said...


The U.S. (which invented daylight saving time) moved into the new time two weeks ago, so we've all had plenty of time to adjust. Except for me. Now instead of rolling into work at ten or so, I come in aroud eleven. So far, no one has said anything.

Anna MR said...

One wonderful spring in when I was young and worked in a Garfunkel's restaurant in London, the boss said after a Saturday evening shift "Don't forget to move your clocks back tonight"...BBC told me to move it forward, and so I did. Myself and a kitchen porter were the only people on time, the rest came an hour late, and the boss himself a glorious two hours late, having followed his own advice. Very memorable.