A Friend
in Zagreb
One day, I am reading alone at a table. Though most of Zagreb's restaurants now cater to the emerging bourgeoisie, a few Socialist Realism diners like this one survive. Decorations are sparse, the radio is loud, and the traditional fare is better than at the pretentious places, at a third of the price. When the tables are full, patrons stand at a counter in the middle of the room.

An older but not elderly man walks over with his cane and sits with me quietly, and when I ask him about his beer, he tells me it is good. Listing off all the other beers, which are also good, he says the newspaper is all lies for ignorant people. It is good that I am young and need little and that the world is mine, he says, and he knows I have many girlfriends since I have no wife.

Looking at the book in my hand, he tells me he has never heard of Joseph Conrad because he didn't finish school. Though people in the Balkans are open and warm, they are all people with deep roots. It is good to have a history, which America doesn't, but --- his hands pause with gravity --- we must remember that we are all children of Mother Earth. He too has seen many beauties of the world, the mountains of Colorado and the cathedrals of Paris. He tells me that he is an old man because he almost forgot his hat, but, with the same smile both deep and wide, and the same genteel stare into my eyes, that I should not forget to live well, and it was a pleasure to meet me but he has to go home now that his beer is finished.

--- From Shuffled How It Gush:
A North American Anarchist in the Balkans

Shon Meckfessel
©2009 AK Press
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