Thursday, April 08, 2010

Everybody knows I'm a bad why do I keep apologizing?

So I'm in the AIG bar, delivering Hank Greenberg to one of my key American International Group people, and I find myself, presumably the way somebody like Tom Cruise finds himself at times, shooting the breeze with complete strangers. Usually, for me, it's about painting. Because that's why I'm a celebrity of sorts.

At a certain point in the conversation, I like to stare into some unsuspecting soul's eye, capture the man (or woman) and have my way with them. Conversationally, of course.

The thought of which makes me think, of course, of this:

IT IS an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May'st hear the merry din.'

He holds him with his skinny hand,
'There was a ship,' quoth he.
'Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!'
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

He holds him with his glittering eye--
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years' child:
The Mariner hath his will.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:
He cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

'The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.

The Sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he!
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.

Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon--'
The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,
For he heard the loud bassoon.

The bride hath paced into the hall,
Red as a rose is she;
Nodding their heads before her goes
The merry minstrelsy.

The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

And now the Storm-blast came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o'ertaking wings,
And chased us south along.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,
As who pursued with yell and blow
Still treads the shadow of his foe,
And forward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,
And southward aye we fled.

And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken--
The ice was all between.

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God's name.

It ate the food it ne'er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!

And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariners' hollo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moon-shine.'

'God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!--
Why look'st thou so?'--'With my cross-bow
I shot the Albatross.'

The key item, by the way, is Stanza 4.

So I'm standing at this bar, talking to the AIG people and I fix one of them with my glittering eye. My four-scotch eye.
I held him with my fixed stare
I held him til his soul lay bare
blah blah blah.
"Fixed", in this case, is pronounced with two syllables. Regardless, he must have been about 40. Reedy. I could have snapped him like a twig (and I think he knew it), and I said to him (me--four scotches into the general procedings): "You look like you make a shitload of money. You should buy a painting."

Which, I suppose, makes me a bad person. Because it's not nice to talk money, and income levels, in public places. All his co-workers stared at him. He was visibly uncomfortable for a period of time best measured in nanoseconds. Then everybody laughed.

I don't know why I do this. I mean, nobody has ever bought a painting as a result of this particular marketing ploy. But I do enjoy the moment of terror in their eyes. The brief whiff of desperation. The look a cat gets when a five year old picks it up and starts carrying it around like a sack of potatoes.

Which, I suppose, makes me a bad person. And I apologize for that.


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