It’s been some considerable time since I’ve managed to write anything here (and finish it, I have a pile of drafts I’m uncertain about publishing). Life has been a little on the wild side, what with getting a new apartment for my wife and I among other needed business. Anyway, one of my friends was talking to me about how he’s encountered many people who seem to feel that Odin is all about being terrifying, gaining knowledge through pain and self mutilation and “the sexors”. Well… He is about all those things (though I’ve always known Him to be more about seduction than “You’re mine and I’m going to screw you now!” or… whatever it is *shrugs*), but that isn’t all He’s about. So in the interest of diversifying perspectives I thought I’d start sharing some of my own perceptions of the Old Man, starting with a short little piece that’s all fiction, but shares some of how I notice the Old Man making Himself manifest in the world.
The Crazy Old Man Outside The Bar
It was one of those steamy summer nights in the city. Wisps of fog or mist glowed orange as they drifted under the street lights. Sounds of loud conversation and laughter, along with even louder music, drifted from the open doors of the small less than amazing clubs that crowded together along the strip.
Out of one of these clubs a young man stepped out, yawning and stretching, a little bleary eyed from drink and the late hour. The humid air and his own sweat stuck his hair and shirt down to his skin that glistened under the dull orange glow of the lights. Seeking a moment to cool off, maybe catch a breeze, the young man sat down on the aging concrete that supported the rusting fence of the strip’s pay by the hour car park.
Looking to his left, the young man spied what was more than likely a homeless old man sitting leaning back against the same fence. The old man’s hair and long beard were bleach white with yellow nicotine stains around the mouth. His clothes were ragged, a beaten Vietnam Veteran hat with faded buttons pinned to it and a sleaves-torn-off denim jacket that showed off his ruddy colored but muscled arms and had at least as many rips and tears as his jeans. He held a steel coffee can in one hand with a hand written note tapped to it, written in sharpie and reading: “Buy A Vet A Drink”.
The young man looked at the old vet, and the old vet turned to stare back at him, raising one bushy white eyebrow as if to say “what you looking at kid?”. The young man burst out laughing after a few moments and said “Well, at least you’re honest!” and tossed a few dollars from his pocket into the can. The old man grinned and inclined his head in thanks as the young man calmed down and caught his breath.
Taking a deep breath the young man looked off and above himself, staring into the starless clouded sky that reflected the lights of the city below. “Something on your mind kid?” the old man asked after a long pause.
The young man looked down again, his brow furrowed as he considered his strange companion out there on the sidewalk. “Well…” he said, drawn out hesitantly. “There’s this girl…”
This time it was the old man’s turn to throw his head back and laugh. “Oh it’s been awhile since I was that young kid… but have you told her you’ve your eye on her?”
The young man, blinked and shook his head. “No I haven’t,” he replied. He paused another moment, then got up and dusted off the debris that had become stuck to his pants from the concrete he was sitting on. “I’ll try that,” he said over his shoulder as he went back into the club.
A few moments later, the young man returned to his previous spot along the rusting fence and sat down with all the signs and expressions of dejection. The old man looked at him and again raised one of those bushy white eyebrows, this time at the large red patch across the young man’s cheek. Looked like it stung too. “I suppose,” the old man began quietly and not unkindly, “that didn’t go so well?”
The young man shook his head, rubbing his eyes with the heel of his hands and then back through his tangled sweat streaked hair. “Nope,” he said looking back at the old man. “So… what did you used to do when you got rejected this badly old man?”
The old man just grinned and lifted his coffee can, giving it a shake to make the coins inside jingle. “Celebrate being a free man of course!”
The young man laughed and got up, slapping the old man good across the back before helping him to his feet. “Come on then crazy old man, drinks are on me tonight!”