I was with my old buddy Jake down at the Rivoli in Toronto and we were celebrating with bowls of latte. We were about to launch our novels together. We are in that fast increasing population of salt ‘n’ pepper•haired workers who have enough life experiences to churn out books in rapid succession but never make a living out of them. Heck, everyone is doing it – why not us?
We were once citizens of the corporate world – long term loyalists to the Capitalist cause – rudely thrown out to pasture once our shelf life expired. No longer employable. I like to describe us as Tweens – not those kids between 20 and 32 per Wikipedia, but guys like us between 50 and 65 – too old for middle management, too young for Canada Pension, left to fend for ourselves. It’s as if our benevolent social safety net has a hole in it for people like us: looked after from the cradle until we hit this age bracket, and then picked up at 65 again, if we haven’t self•destructed by then.
Some of us become writers (and a fraction of us hit the writing lottery – i.e. agent, publisher, fix•figure advance, while the rest languish in dreams), others become consultants or teachers, others enter second careers and putter their way, underpaid and overworked, towards retirement, just keeping their heads above debt and heart failure. Others go overseas, or just pack it in get sick and die.
But none of these future concerns bothered me at that moment. I was like that prisoner in the Gulag that Solzhenitsyn wrote about: the chap who picked up a smoking cigarette butt and sucked on it with all his might, obliterating the world around him, revelling in that hint of a nicotine rush. Having that bowl of latte was more pleasurable than the hundreds I’d had in Business Class, or in fancy hotels, or during rushed meetings where the agenda had been all pervasive and had denied me the enjoyment of perks that came with those high powered jobs. What a waste – all those lattes! I’d never taken a moment to smell the coffee! This one at the Rivoli made up for them all. And throwing in a five dollar tip was far more satisfying because it came out of my own wallet and not off my former corporate charge card.
This blog post has no deep philosophy to impart, just my feelings that were invoked by indulging in a lost pleasure, as I sat in that restaurant, about to launch my new book, saying to myself, “This is your new life – love it or leave it!”