Got A Little Hitch In My Gitalong
Attempting to be clever, I said to the woman beside me, “I used to be a contender.”
Another woman, overhearing our conversation, patted me on the shoulder in a maternal sort of way and said, “We all think you still are!”
As I was leaving, a man told me that he admired my swagger. He said that he hopes I will get it back soon. His eyes looked as if he was absorbing more of my pain than I had to offer. It made me feel dirty, as if I were using him. I wanted to poke the empathy out of his eyes by saying loudly and proudly, “Heyyyyyyyy! Dude! I’m doing great!” But I could not. I felt too exhausted to lie.
On the way home, I told the story to my friend who had driven me there that night. I told him what the man said about my not having my swagger and how his words had given me a lumpy throat.
“Oh,” my friend said. “Weak knees?”
“No,” I replied, “Weak attitude.”
Maybe we were talking about the same thing. I don’t know.
I changed the conversation to Christopher Hitchens’ death. Or maybe it was still the same conversation.
~~Poet on Fire