Posted by: Brad Nixon | September 27, 2010

Lunchtime Idyll

The thing about writing is that it can be about anything. I can write about one atom that is contained in the keyboard I’m typing on, or I can write about the idea that there are an infinitude of atoms in an infinite number of infinitely large universes (which I don’t like to think about, especially), and everything in between. Unfortunately, my range of knowledge is somewhat less than that, and the range of things I know something about and about which you might want to read is even considerably smaller. You know those Venn diagrams of overlapping circles: there’s a big circle for all people, and then smaller ones that intersect for all men, all women, all redheads, all Libertarians, and the areas of overlap get down to where the circles representing “all taxpayers” and “all Libertarians” don’t overlap at all.

It’s the same with free speech: in free societies, there’s an inherent right to say anything you want to say as long as it’s not a threat to the safety and security of other individuals or of society in general, but that doesn’t mean that everyone wants to hear it, (unless you’re a fan of Fox News).

Therefore, the burdensome task of the writer who tries to find as much as possible about what he or she has to say that intersects with the likely interest of his or her readers. If one is not writing something that anyone else wants to read, then one is doing what we call “journalizing.” It’s good practice, but please don’t try to publish it, and try to make the terms of your will clear enough that some greedy survivor of yours won’t find a greedy editor and a greedy publisher and try to foist it off on the rest of us after you’re gone. We have enough to read. There’s all of Turgenev and The Magic Mountain, not to mention all those books by Trollope and Sterne we meant to read 40 years ago, for heaven’s sake.

If one WERE a diligent writer, and DID that journaling thing each day, one would almost certainly become a better writer. But when would one do it and still hold down the job? What about lunchtime? If only I’d taken some reasonable portion of the more than 6,000 lunchtimes of my corporate career for writing, who knows where I’d be as a writer? Where, by the way, did 6,000 lunches go? Some of them were erased by non-stop work, and some of them were spent traveling or in meetings, but most, I’m sorry to say, were frittered away.

I say FRITTERING (to quote Meredith Willson)!

It would be interesting to go into a deep contemplative trance and attempt to list the memorable lunches I’ve had: not the ones that involved being on video shoots or in the edit studio or producing meetings in near- or far-flung locations, although I could write a month’s worth of blogs about those (and maybe I will). No, I mean selecting from among the days I went to Skyline Chili on Brown Street in Dayton with the old Sugar Camp crowd, or up to the Sugar Camp cafeteria (there one does come to mind: the day of the Challenger disaster; a terrible day). Another favorite place in the Dayton days was a kind of pseudo fern bar called “Legends,” which featured publicity photos of Hollywood celebrities from the 30s and 40s. Later, it became an Asian restaurant that one of our gang christened “Regends.” Or strolling around downtown Cincinnati during my brief stint at the agency, poking into various places that usually looked more appealing than their actual bill of fare (except, again, for Skyline, of course!). Most of my lunches when I was freelancing here in LA I ate at home, because I didn’t know anyone except The Counselor, who was at work, and because I didn’t have any money for dining out, although I did make an exception a couple of times during the ’94 World Cup, and went to a local sports bar to eat lunch and watch the day’s game, because we didn’t have cable TV.

Today, the pressure is on, and I can’t just journalize, but, instead, I have to forge this vague notion that somewhere in this idea of lunchtime frittering is a SUBJECT for the day’s blog. To that end, allow me to propose Under Western Skies Apothegm #12: “Lunchtime is a key measure of the relative difficulty of the work you are doing.” Two contrasting examples will illustrate the accuracy of this minor truth. I am actually stealing this specific example from my brother, the Indianapolis Squash Master, because it’s just perfect, so thanks, bro.

Example A: It’s lunchtime. You prepare to go to the cafeteria or wherever and look at the ink on your finger and say, “Oh, man, I’d better wash my hands. They’re filthy.”

Example B: Lunchtime, some years prior to Example A. You have just spent the morning taking down the animal stalls at the County Fairgrounds. Time to grab the lunch bucket and sit in the shadow of the barn for a luxurious 20 minute dining experience. It’s 100 feet over to the water hose. You say, what the heck, wipe your hands off on a rag you have in the truck and start eating.

Your lunchtime experience says a lot about how hard you work now and how hard you used to work. Enjoy it. Maybe write something.

© Brad Nixon 2010, 2017



  1. O Spirit, tell me I may sponge away this stain upon my reputation. I am not the man I was!


    • In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it.
      The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him.

      Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom’s hood and dress.
      It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost.


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