On my worst behavior.
A pair of white-washed denim capris are holding my legs like the legs of my ex-girlfriend as I sit, blanketed in a ragged over-sized Carhartt, smoking a cherry-flavored cigarette outside a haunt here in Nashville, Tennessee called Flamingo’s.
It’s the only place I’ve found where face masks don’t feel like condoms and the echo of a cough doesn’t sound like a falling guillotine –– it’s a brief and splendid reprieve from a world burning to the ground.
My best friend, Jeremy Raley captured the above photograph –– if you’re into matching faces with names, he’s the good-looking sonofabitch floating the bird here –– I didn’t know it was in motion until the flash of his film camera lit up the patio, turning faces our way as if we were almost-famous.
That is until those faces realized a pair of up-and-coming country music stars wouldn’t be masquerading as hipsters.
Weeks later he sent me the photo. I thought it looked like it was taken in another era, which is very much my style. And so I wanted a place to share it and people to share it with.
Generally, I’d resort to Instagram. But, I am currently on a two-month-long hiatus there because it’s been slowly killing me.
If you’re wondering why keep reading. And, if you aren’t wondering why scroll down to the line “I was thumbing through my accounts…”
As you may or may not know, I moonlight as a poet over on Instagram where my work is read by strangers that are, at times, quite easy on the eyes but live in states several states over and in countries several countries over and, naturally, begin to take a liking to the individual who wrote the words they read and they send this individual pretty notes and then he’s stuck, trying to hold down relationships whilst fighting back the urge to romanticize over the possibility of getting naked with one of these women in Nebraska or Berlin or wherever.
While that’s a rather long-winded explanation for why I quit Instagram it also effectively sums up the dangers in social media: allowing strangers whom we have never met to have a profound impact on our lives.
This is why I left. And, this is why I have yet to return. I saw the writing on the wall: This thing that is not real will eventually cost me some things that are very real, like love and human connection and human experience.
Hence, why I’m writing to you here and not there.
This hiatus has been both good and bad.
My book sales for One Minute, Please? have taken a bit of a nose-dive. But, my career in advertising has exploded. And with it, my bankroll.
I was thumbing through my accounts a couple mornings back and thought, for just a second, I had taken up a second career dealing cocaine.
(To be candid, I’m not sure it would be any less virtuous than advertising –– both leave a man dancing with the devil’s mistress and fighting like hell not to sell his soul to her and her lover.)
I like to think this influx of money hasn’t changed me whilst recognizing that most of what we think is wrong.
I still drive a beat-to-hell 1989 Range Rover that cost me a whopping $8,600. It leaks like a stuck pig when it rains. I love when it rains.
I still buy all my clothes used and vintage, because I’m a millennial and I adore the idea of making other people’s clothes my own.
Anyway, I’ve done okay in advertising at the age of twenty-six in part because I’m obsessed with the craft (and not many people anymore view the job or jobs for that matter, as a craft). In part, because I’m deeply flawed as a human being and don’t do anything to disguise it –– and being that everyone and their mother is deeply flawed, I think this allows me to connect with people on a more honest level.
The same man selling fitness equipment and the latest greatest health supplements can be found outside a bar at 2 a.m. doing his best James Dean, puffing away at cigars and cigarettes and this same man can be seen the following evening at 2 a.m. on a Monday night running like a banshee through the streets of Nashville because he goes mad if he doesn’t clock twenty miles of roadwork a week.
I’m not a saint.
I’m a far cry from.
I’m overflowing with contradictions.
But, I’m fucking honest. And, in a world where everyone seems to be bullshitting about everything all of the time, all I believe in at this point is honesty. Honest about the good. Honest about the bad. Honest about everything in-between.
So, I’m sitting here in Nashville, Tennessee smoking a cigarette gunning for David Ogilvy and Ernest Hemingway and Charles Bukowski knowing damn well I won’t ever catch them.
Having a hell of a lot of fun on my worst behavior. I’m not someone you’d want to take home to your mother. But, I’m someone that can look themselves in the mirror in the morning and that’s something.
Please know that’s something.
By Cole Schafer.
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