s.'s erstwhile desultory lifestyle rears its destructive head now and then but less and less frequently and the hard practical facts of life are seen by him as an abstract challenge.
like the months that his palms were blessed with silver dollar sized weeping red sores. when he had cried a deluge of tears riding the subway from end to end, with nowhere to go. but that would be a 'down' period where totally exasperated with the difficulties of having a body not congruent with his spiritual expectations s. would be thrown into a state of chaos and confusion.
he complained to his english mentor, "why does life have to be so difficult?",
l.p. answered with an impish smile and soft words…
"but scott, that's what makes it interesting."
that stuck in his brain craw at first like a big piece of overdone meat trying to go down a dry gullet. he wanted to protest out loud but bit his tongue. he never wanted to appear the least bit disrespectful of this man who had always been so generous with him.
in between jobs was always a timeless period. s. would drop in on his friends, ravitsky or bruce sherman, a dentist who would rather be a potter. marty ravitzsky had furnished a dank basement on second street with handmade platforms and shelves. the ceilings were billowing indian and arabic sheets of colorful patterns with dim lights shining through. the shelves and cabinets marty had made in his shop a block away on second ave.
marty is on the left.
marty had first been a grade school teacher but after a three year sabbatical in morocco and a few years in the 'work', he hung out his shingle in the village voice and became a freelance carpenter. he would take any job from built in loft beds to polished 4"x4" wooden cubes for an advertising company. he always charged a lot and did very well; but he was a miser with money.
s. would work with him a few days when he was low on money and had nothing to do. the shop was well equipped with table saw, radial arm saw, band saw, routers and shapers and sanders and it always smelled wonderful to s..
"marty, i need an advance." s. would always say. and marty always screwed himself up and bellowed, "no!" in a way that sounded more irrevocably final than a mother denying her kids a mcdonald's happy meal. but s. was good at begging and always persisted until he got enough cash for a few days.
ravitsky was a natural cook and could throw together an arabic or macrobiotic meal in forty minutes or less; always fresh vegetables and sauces concocted with soy, miso and tahini. his open cupboards were lined with corked jars of grains, beans and exotic herbs.
one thing s. gave marty that marty always gave him credit for was friday nights at the steam bath.
all the men were wet and shiny. the faucets running water overflowing wooden buckets kept the steam room wet. the rocks in the oven were red hot. the small room was crowded. friday night at the russian steam bath on tenth street and it was standing room only.
six water faucets and as many wooden buckets served maybe twenty men of all shapes and sizes. it bordered on bizarre; giant bellies hanging so low they covered the genitals. and the bony men, hard workers and lean as horses.
if you had a friend and rented the oak leaf brush you could take a 'placer'. lying down on the top level on wooden planks the soapy lather somehow made the heat bearable. the men ministering to you were constantly dumping water over themselves to cool their brains. when it was over with both sides done and your thinking was blurred by the constant ebullient repartee' in the room, you would stumble out, shower and dive into the icy pool. of course it's better to wade in in a gradual sinking with the head last after your blood has cooled. diving in is a shock to the system which could cause a heart attack.
s. poured a bucket of freezing water on his head to relieve the heat. sitting on the top level after the second time in 'the cave', after a total cool down in the numbing pool, was the routine. then finally, staying as long as he could possibly bear the heat even with cold buckets, dazed and silenced, he would totter up to the beds on the second floor. after a brief nap, he'd throw on the white linen robe and join the men in the restaurant for cel-ray and pickled herring in sour cream.