My brother worked as a bartender many years ago and he and his co-workers had a subtle way of handling indecisive customers.
“Hey,” they’d ask, “are you buying or crying?”
Not terribly polite, I suppose, but this was Brooklyn, after all, and there’s nothing like a direct line of inquiry to clear up any confusion.
I should probably ask myself that question more often so I can make choices and take action, instead of fretting about what my next move and doing nothing at all.
On Friday night I stopped by a local antique furniture store I’ve frequented several times to see if I could find an old school desk.
I do most of my writing on the computer, but I’d like to do my revisions on a nice, solid desk--as opposed to the kitchen table.
The owners showed me a charmingly battered teacher’s desk that was selling fairly cheaply; I told them I’d think it over.
Then I walked to the back of the store to take a look at a magnificent bullfighting poster that I’ve fantasized about buying for the last year.
I love vintage posters and I say must this one’s a beauty. It advertises an event in Madrid in 1964 and depicts a bull charging straight at a matador, who stands with his cape raised high in one hand, while concealing a saber behind his back with the other.
The poster is so lifelike you can almost hear the crowd roaring olé!
But I’ve always hesitated to buy it, even though I knew the poster would look great hanging in living room. Save your money, I told myself. You don’t need this damn thing.
What's the Matador?
Let me say right here and now that I abhor bullfighting. It is barbaric, cruel, and inhumane.
There’s an unforgettable scene in Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, where the alien overlords witness a bullfight and use their advanced technology to make everyone in the stadium feel the bull’s pain as the picador’s lance pierces the animal’s flesh.
That image has stayed with me for years.
However, I enjoy this poster as a piece of art and as a slice of history, and I don’t think appreciating the craftsmanship of the illustration is an endorsement of a hideous “sport.”
But the issue is academic anyway because when I walked to the back of the store, I saw that the poster was gone.
“You sold the matador,” I said in disbelief.
Well, aren’t we the Duke of Duh? Of course they sold the goddamn poster, Mr. Hawking. It was for sale and this is a store, not a museum.
The owners can’t pass up a chance to make money just because you won’t make a commitment.
This was hardly a major incident in my life, but it got me thinking about how I handle other decisions, where I let things happen rather then stepping up and making them happen.
I thought of all the events that sold out before I made up my mind about whether I wanted to go to them or not. Or the women I debated about calling until they decided to go out with someone else.
I’m not going to buy that teacher’s desk. It’s a nice piece of work at a good price, but I’ve decided—yes, I actually decided—that I don’t have room for it in my apartment. And I will live with that decision.
But the message is clear. He who hesitates is lost. If you’re slow, you blow.
And if you’re not buying, you’ll definitely be crying.