Old man to me at Starbucks: “Are you drowning?” I look up from my phone confused.
The old man had curly white hair that was in need of a comb and a multicolored ascot scarf over a black coat. His hands were clutching a book tightly. Moments before he spoke to me I had witnessed him staring at a group of older women sitting at the end of the long table at which we were all sitting. It looked as if he was drawing in his book.
The old man sat across from me at table.
“You young people are so obsessed with that stuff,” he said motioning to my phone “So what do you for a living?”
I reply I am a journalist.
I say that knowing I have not called myself that in a long time but I felt at that moment it was true. I was still surprised I said it.
“So what do you write?”
I told him I freelance.
“No I mean what do you write for fun?”
I paused to answer the question was as heavily loaded as a Hollenbeck burrito from my favorite Mexican restaurant in LA. He seemed to be asking if writing for journalism was fun or was it work. Maybe he hates journalists I thought. Then I decided to evade his question with an answer that was also true.
“I write poetry,” I said rather sheepishly. For some reason I thought he’d assume I was not credible as a writer if I had said blogger.
Then he mentioned the name of a writer he likes and asked me looking down his long nose at me if I knew who he was. I did not, but I lied and said I did.
“Well I know him and he loves my poetry, ” he said cradling a book in his arms as if to say he wrote it.
I sat in silence for a bit and then finished my drink not knowing what to make of the conversation I had just had and then bid him good evening and left.