All By My Lonesome

We were in fourth or fifth grade. I might have just peed my pants earlier that day. At recess someone came running up to me with the report. Kirk said a swear word. We were enthralled. We were amazed. We were confused. We didn’t know any swear words specifically. We just knew they existed. And then we went over to him to see if he would say some more.

Day 12 of Claudia’s book Become An Idea Machine. If you have not bought it yet, go buy it now!


Who else would I want to hear more from? I got my undergraduate degree in Social Sciences. About 50% of my course work was in History classes. You would surely think I would have some historical figure in mind that I would like to chat with. I don’t.

Ideas fascinate me more than people. But I believe people are important and worth paying attention to. Plus people create ideas.

I’ve never liked this prompt. Sorry Claudia. I feel answers split two ways. Incredible famous people, world leaders and the like. Or more down home hokey sentimental kind of answers such as my dead grandpa, or dead mom, or dead cat. Whatever.

This question is predicated on the person having something interesting or profound to say. Most people don’t. What if they are shy or just don’t want to be bothered? That would be an awkward conversation.

Plus it’s revealing to pick someone. It exposes your interest, curiosity, or personal beliefs. Nothing I’d ever consider doing.

So if you are still here guess I shouldn’t disappoint after such a build up. I probably will disappoint.

I will take a third option and elect to speak with someone who never really existed. That is the fictional character of Captain Augustus McCrae from Larry McMurtry’s novel Lonesome Dove.

Me: Howdy!

Gus: How do ya do?

M: Lovely weather we’ve been having. Do you suppose it’ll stay like this much longer?

G: Ain’t nothin’ lovely about sweating through your shirt. I’ve been wetter than a working girl.

M: It wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t just sitting there all day.

G: Well, what else you suppose I do? Call has got a handle on everything around here and you know the saloon don’t open this early on Sunday.

M: Well Captian you could go reconnoiter the trail head. Come on hop on a horse and we’ll ride out.

G: I’d rather not, but you do draw a fine point with the cooling off bit. I’m in.

M: So you say you’ve been down this trail before?

G: Yeah here or abouts. We’er out this way chasin’ Ole Curly Bill. That rascal was runnin’ all over these parts and it wasn’t till Tom got a bead on him and shot his ear clean off that we were even close to catchin’ him.

M: That so? So sounds like we should have a pretty easy ride that you’ve cleaned up this area.

G: Well I’d say I did it all myself, but…

M: But what?

G: I didn’t.

M: Didn’t what?

G: Didn’t do it all myself. You better clean your ears when we get back so you can follow along better. You know ears’ll save your life out here. This one time we were out after Blue Duck and his posse when we were sittin’ round the evenin’ fire fixin’ eat a pot of beans when alla sudden we heard a twig snap. Quietest break ever, but we were trained good and ready. So we just keep on like we didn’t hear anything, playing ignorant like and when they did come up on us we jumped up so fast they turned tail and ran before we could get our hands on ’em. I’d’ve shoot if it weren’t so dark but you know I could’ve hit ’em if I did.

M: I believe you sir. Tales of your reputation for marksmanship far proceed you along with your intelligence.

G: Says who?

M: Don’t be coy Gus. I know you read a ton. I’ve caught you myself once or twice. Read anything interesting lately?

G: Nothing specific I can recall but now that you bring it up I’ve been thinking long on some ideas from some such book I’ve read.

M: Anything worth mentioning?

G: Well I don’t know exactly how he put it but this one fella was goin’ on about life and meaning and the meaning of life, if you know what I mean.

M: —–

G: I didn’t figure you would, but I’ll tell ya anyways.

M: Go on.

G: Well the idea went something like this. You know that we are alive. Well any podunk boy could tell ya that much to start off. And we know that we must’ve been put here for some purpose, wouldn’t ya agree?

M: I reckon.

G: And so given it that it only figures that there is some meaning behind it all. Some sorta purpose to life. It’s more than just shootin’ outlaws and rustlin’ cattle. That is something bigger out there that is worth looking into or out for or whatever they way is to get about it.

M: And so you’ve figured out the meaning of life?

G: Son, I’ve barely figured out the meaning on me! Let alone the meaning of life. No I’ll tell you what I did figure though, I figured that we’ve only got a short while here the way I see it.

M: Right.

G: And so in that short while we gotta do the best that we can so to speak. We all not good at the same thing. Take shootin’ for instance. Ain’t nobody do it as good as me. But you might say to yourself, self, what good is shootin’ for anyways. That is where this starts to piece together. You see shootin’ ain’t good for too much, unless you do your shootin’ for good. So how do I do that? I went on to be a Texas Ranger. And BANG! I’m doing good by shootin’!

M: I see, but that’s a bit of an easy one. What about all the folk that are good at things not quite as useful as shootin’?

G: Yes, yes. I know that came up to me too. That is what I’m still puzzlin’ over.

M: Well here we are back at the saloon and it’s after noon. Maybe we can continue this later over a drink.

G: As long as your buyin’ I’m drinkin’.

M: I appreciate your time talkin’ to me today Captian. And I sure do look forward to buyin’ you that drink some time.

It was damn. Kirk said damn.

3 thoughts on “All By My Lonesome

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