The Art of the Handshake
A perfunctory gesture? Hardly. It defines the exchange. A hands-on study of a subtle craft.
The Invisible Grip
Maintaining eye contact feels awkward, even creepy. At first. Then it just feels powerful.
On Saying No
Not “No, thanks.” Not “nope.” Just “no.” clear, unambiguous, empowering “no.” But not in a mean way.
This story isn’t about quitting smoking. It’s about starting. And starting, for me, included thirty-four different brands of cigarette, eleven lighters, spiritual revelations and moments of clarity, gatherings at alley mouths, unions with strangers on the streets of various cities, huddlings on a ragged porch watching the hand-cupped flare of a match in a snowstorm, a perpetual sore throat, a nagging cough, several puking sessions, a six-day headache, an increased appetite, a bout of vertigo, and a wicked case of what I can only call moral confusion. It also meant joining a kind of club, getting bitch-slapped by hegemony, trying to fit in, and not wanting to fit in.
When it comes to the language of money, credit cards are nouns. Dull, concrete, limited by rules and restrictions and creepy fine print, credit cards have all the élan of aluminum foil. Personal checks - the coward’s stand-in for cash - are ugly and static pronouns. But a twenty-dollar bill, now, that’s a thing of beauty. Nothing static about a twenty. Used correctly, a twenty is all about movement, access, cachet.
It’s simple enough: They want answers, and they want meat. A butcher has to have a lot of each. So that’s when I lean in, against the solidity of the counter, into the skin of the apron. I’ve been there long enough to be a guy with some answers, a guy with trusted skills. Butcher.