I've in the past year or so befriended two different Roberts. One in the bar. One in the coffee shop. Both older than I. Both artistic. One with an established track record as an artist. The other a PTSD-tortured Vietnam vet. Both married. Both with good souls. They're not perfect - not politically correct. They both have long hair (like me - yair!). And they mostly say what they think without too much filtering.
They are beat characters. I love them. They seem to live that simple beatific life Kerouac extolled (and lived at times). The "mad ones...," you know?
I don't know why they perk up to see me. Maybe because I listen to their stories. (How couldn't you listen?) Maybe I have something to offer on occasion when we talk. I'm pretty sure my "college professor" title lends some aura of credibility to my words, but that is just so much utter bullshit. Having a doctorate, being a college professor - who cares? It's just meaningless noise. Neither of the Roberts have doctorates. Neither of the Roberts is a college professor. And either of them is routinely way more interesting than I (although I aspire to it - I would love to someday hold court in a coffee shop corner spinning tales and having someone hanging on my words).
Life experience! GO GO GO! That's what makes for having something to say. Been places! The jungles of southeast Asia. Denver. Texas. Chicago. Mexico. New Orleans. Denmark. San Francisco (North Beach - City Lights Bookstore - Sausalito). Done things! Lived in a tepee. Posed naked for aspiring artists in D.C. Greeted the southwestern sunrise tripping on peyote, naked and wrapped in a blanket with a beautiful woman. Survived combat. Protested (in real protests, not the namby-pamby excuses for protests that happen today).
And more. Much more. That I hope to hear about until the story and the stories end. As they all do. So listen now. And weave them, too, as you can.