Grace Under Fire

JMN2016, Woman Puckering2, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 in. (c) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.

My spirits purveyor hails from Boston and likes to revel in how ancient certain landmarks are in that city compared to the scrubby, nondescript backwater he and I both inhabit now — I natively, he God knows why. Sometimes I imagine he’s been spirited out of South Boston into the witness protection program.

It’s my way, conforming to my own sickness, to enable and encourage him in his boasting in order to be ingratiating. In Spanish they would say, “Le doy cuerda” — I wind him up. I feed him setup for his punchlines of superiority — it’s what I do. My instinct is that if you’re supportive of other people’s bullshit they’re more liable to like you.

Today I hit a snag. As I finalized my purchase I kissed up to my liquor store proprietor by remarking how paltry the stock of historical monuments in this “buttcrack state” was compared to what must surely be the case in Massachusetts. I have a long history of calling Texas a buttcrack state. I don’t always say it out loud, but in this case I did.

The individual waiting to check out behind me said, “At least we don’t have that black bastard running things anymore.” It sounded like a non sequitur, but I noticed that he was looking at me intently, in such a way that said he had twigged somehow to my liberalness, that I had an ideological stink on me that made his nostrils twitch, that he most likely had a 9-millimeter Glock with extra clips or something like that nestled in his Ford F-150 pickup, and that his fantasy as we spoke was to bust a few rounds in my Obama-loving ass.

My response was epic. I drew myself up to my full height, as they say, and said to him, “I shall not be the one to gainsay you at this time, sir.” Having scorched him with this rejoinder, I made a dignified, if somewhat accelerated, exit from the premises.

[Copyright (c) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.]

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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