Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Half-Naked Man Walks into a Bar -OR- One Writer's Struggle with Distraction

El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon, Arizona

The man sitting next to me is half naked. I am sitting in El Tovar’s Bar on the edge of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, working on my novel, when he comes in wearing nothing but a shirt and jacket, and then sits down right beside me. I keep writing, noticing him only like a moth might notice there are more things in a room then just a light. But after about ten minutes a thought intrudes—why is this dude half naked?

And then, like one of those annoying low-pitched hums put off by a refrigerator, a sound that never bothers you until you actually begin to think about it, this notion of a half-naked man sitting just four feet away, starts to hum. The word “shorts” cames to my mind. Of course. He is just wearing very, very short shorts on this very, very cold snowy day. 

Maybe, I think, he is one of those European types, like the man that was with us this summer on our rafting trip down the Colorado. He was Danish, and every morning at sunrise he would run into the river and go for a swim. I’m talking 45 degree water. The man sitting next to me now, he could be from Denmark, maybe even further north, someplace where they like to roll in snow and then beat themselves with switches. There are people from all around the world at the Grand Canyon. Just this morning, while hiking in a snow storm I met people from China,  Romania, Baluchistan, and Nepal. Siberia even. The man sitting next to me could be a Siberian wearing very short shorts. 

I keep writing. 

I am a moth, I think. I will not be distracted. Naked men can walk all around me. They can dance, they can shake their junk, and what will I care? I won’t. Not one little bit. I have work to do. 

An opportunity like this—to sit on the edge of the Grand Canyon in the El Tovar Hotel’s Bar on a snowy night. An opportunity to do what I love - to write, and write and write and not have to make anyone’s dinner, or wash anyone’s clothes or make anyones bed (but my own, but my own, but my own) comes—what? Never? 

Maybe if you are single. 

Maybe if you are not a mom.

But I am married and I have a child. 

So, go head, sit there naked man. See if I care. 

I set down my pen. Look up at the TV. Snow storm in the Northeast. Big drifts. Big plows. Big news. I rub my neck and then, slowly, discretely—look to my right. 

Orange, skin-tight pants. 

That’s all. 

Just orange skin-tight pants on a middle aged man with a beard. 

Back to work.

-Naseem Rakha 2/9/13


  1. I am fully clothed. at concert after nice Ethiopian dinner.

  2. Cute story. Amazing how we can get our tails in a knot sometimes. :-)