There are so many important things that happen to us on a daily basis and often times we get into the habit of just taking those seemingly daily events for granted. I regularly go to coffee with my Dad and his "cronies" several times a week. I started out reluctantly, thinking that I wouldn't have much in common with a bunch of old guys. How wrong I was, this morning diversion in my day has become a ritual that I look forward to and regret when other things keep me from being able to join them. At first I didn't understand them, they would talk to each other in no way any woman would dare to talk to another woman and expect to remain friends. The best way to describe their banter is the scene in "Grand Torino" with Clint Eastwood when he walks into the barber shop with his young mentor and begins to talk to the barber. (For those who haven’t seen the movie, at the end of this post is a rundown of the dialogue.) As you watch the movie, you understand that Walt and Barber Martin in "Grand Torino" love each other and Walt also loves Thao or we wouldn't see this scene. Never the less, that scene would play in my head for the first month that I joined them and stayed pretty quiet until I figured out the rules.
Ok, so my guys aren't quite that crass but you get the point. It took me a while to assimilate to their banter. We’ve had discussions as lively as the use of barbed wire to scratch that itch you can't quite reach and not to forget it is also useful for hemorrhoids, to the healing benefits of dog licks to heal a pesky wound that is slow to heal. It is often like sitting in a council dedicated to saving the world. They always tell me that I'm the best looking of the group - how can I pass up that ego boosting opportunity? With all kidding aside, they have become wonderful mentors with wonderful life stories and wisdom that you would not expect to be found at a McDonalds. They are my guys and I love them and miss them when I don’t see them.
Last July my husband, son and I traveled to Austin, TX to go see my brother-in-law who had just returned for leave from a tour in Iraq. One morning during that trip we stopped at McDonalds for a quick breakfast. There in the back of the restaurant was another group of guys not all that dissimilar to these guys, enjoying their coffee and discussions to save the world. I was tempted to walk up to them and simply sit down at the table and explain that I had left my coffee group guys back home and that I missed them so could I please join them for a while. There is no doubt in my mind that they would have welcomed me and made me feel at home. Had it not been for my present company (my son would have been mortified) and the urgency to get back on the road I would have and enjoyed every second of it. That realization in a foreign place was the seed that germinated into this painting. I wanted to paint my guys in their everyday environment shooting the breeze and easily laughing at something someone said. You may not know them, but yet you do, because all you have to do is walk into any McDonalds or corner Cafe across the nation, in the morning between 6 and 10 and you too can find your very own McCoffee Council.
Scene from Grand Torino as quoted by the IMDb website: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1205489/quotes
Walt Kowalski: Now you just gotta learn how guys talk. You just listen to the way Martin and I banter it back and forth. You OK? You're ready?
Thao Vang Lor: Sir!
Walt Kowalski: Alright let's go in...
Barber Martin: Perfect! A Polak and AND a Chink!
Walt Kowalski: How ya doing Martin, you crazy Italian prick?
Barber Martin: Walts! You cheap bastard! I should have known you'd come in, I was having such a pleasant day!
Walt Kowalski: What'd you do? You ruse some poor blind guy out of his money? Gave him the wrong change?
Barber Martin: Who's the Nip?
Walt Kowalski: Ohh... He's a pussy kid from next door. I'm trying to man him up a little bit... You see kid, now that's how guys talk to one another.
Thao Vang Lor: They do?
Barber Martin: What, you got shit on your ribs?
Walt Kowalski: Now you go out and come back in and talk to him like a man, like a REAL man. Come on! Get your ass outta here! Come on back now.
Walt Kowalski: Sorry about this.
Thao Vang Lor: What's up ya old Italian prick?
Barber Martin: [pointing rifle at Thao] Get out of my shop before I blow your head off, you goddamn dick sucker! Go!
Walt Kowalski: Jezus Christ, Holy Shit! Hehe. Take it easy, take it easy!
Walt Kowalski: What the hell are you doing? Have you lost your mind?
Thao Vang Lor: But that's what you said. That's what you said men say.
Walt Kowalski: You don't just come in and insult the man in his own shop! You just don't do that. What happens if you meet some stranger? You get the wrong one, he's gonna blow your gook head right off!
Thao Vang Lor: What should I have said then?
Barber Martin: Well... why don't you start with... eeehm... Hi or Hello...
Walt Kowalski: Yeah, just come in and say... eeeehm... Sir, I'd like a haircut if you have the time.
Barber Martin: Yeah, be polite, but don't kiss ass.
Walt Kowalski: In fact you could talk about a construction job you just came from and bitch about your girlfriend and your car.
Barber Martin: eeeehm... Son of a bitch, I just got my brakes fixed and eeehmm those son of bitches really nailed me, I mean they screwed me right in the ass!
Walt Kowalski: Yeah, don't swear AT the guy, just talk about people who are not in the room... eeeh... you could talk about your boss... eeeh... making you work extra time when there is bowling night.
Barber Martin: Right, or... eeeh... my old lady bitches for two goddamn hours about how... eeeeh... they don't take expired coupons at the grocery stores. And the minute I turn on the fucking game, she starts crying how we never talk!