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"Dirty old man" "Dirty old man"
by Alexander Mikhaylov
2008-01-03 10:00:59
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He was a man in his early fiftieth, small and sad looking
With runny eyes and face that seemed to be
Pushed to one side, the skin the color of a peeled potato
Brown hands, pants

Always sliding down his ass and dangling just above
His knees like a soiled diaper.
He lived with his teenage daughter
And a smelly lap dog that reminded me
Of a dirty white towel. They occupied
An old dingy house.
He was an artist.
His wife died
Long time ago: he claimed that she was
A lesbian
One evening we drank at his place
Sitting in the kitchen, talking
About art and the Velvet revolution
Life, bringing up children, politics
Then he said
‘I’m so old and ugly. Nobody likes me anymore.’
‘You’re all right’, - I said
‘No. I’m not. Look! Look at my hands’
‘What’s wrong with your hands?’
‘Just look at my hands.
All covered with these
Weird brown patches. Look at them. LOOK AT THESE PATCHES!
IT’S NOT NORMAL!’
‘Listen, let’s have another drink,’ – I said
And so we did but then
He went on whining
About his hands and the old age
I continued to sit there, nodding
To his litany
While pushing away his dog
The smelly monster seemed to be determined
To masturbate on my leg the whole evening
‘Hey, I wanna show you my drawings. ‘
‘Yeah. Show me your drawings.’
We got up. Suddenly
He tried to grab
My ass but missed and fell
Across the table.
‘Aaaaahhh. See? I’m finished, ‘– He croaked
Then limped to his bedroom and fell asleep.
I listened to his snores reverberating through the house
Shaking window glass and his paintings
Then took my socks and shoes off
And dozed off on his couch in the living room
When I awoke I found that
The damn dog stole one of my socks
I headed to the kitchen
Squatted in front of the dog’s basket and cooed
‘Hey, you little hairy devil. Gimme it back. Gimme
It back to me!’ but the bastard just growled
And snapped his teeth. Finally it bit my finger.
I gave up, shoved the remaining sock in my pocket,
Got out of the house,
Walked over to a tram stop, lit a cigarette
And threw remaining sock in a garbage bin
It was the most boring evening
I’d ever remembered.


    
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Emanuel Paparella2008-01-03 15:12:37
“Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac” quipped once Henry Kissinger and he might as well have been talking about “dirty old men,” but to be old and filthy in one’s early fifties in this day and age is indeed a phenomenon worth writing about. Could that perception be due to the age of the writer? On the other hand there are young men who are old at thirty. Old age may be a mental state after all. But time has its ravages, no doubt about it. I suppose the operative word here is "dirty" which Mr. Mikhailov seems to take literally as applying mainly to the body, while today’s editorial picture seems to use metaphorically and "poetically." Indeed, poetry is rarely the province of “dirty old men” but the reverse is not necessarily true: poetry seems to have an intense interest in the fantasies of old men and how their mind works and how time changes or, more often, does not change their thinking. It is a rich literature that transcends walking around in raincoats for “flashing” purposes, for it has to do with Being and Time and not aging. Here are a few items among movies, poems, novels that readily jump to mind: Vivien and Merlin in Malory’s Mort d’Arthur, Nabokov’s Lolita, Mann’s Death in Venice, Freud’s Totem and Taboo, the movies Deer Park, Wild Strawberries, End Games, Sanctuary, Shakespeare’s Prospero, Goethe’s Faust and Gretchen, Shylock, Melville’s Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, Jake Barnes’ Popeye, the Fountain of Youth of Ponce de Leon, Mark Twain’s Dirty Little Secret, and the list could go and on. But this one would be enough to keep a literary critic—young or old-- busy for the whole of 2008.


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