The Lung Brothers

Hanging out at the extreme end of the long tail ...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


In little treasure trove of friends that we have in Barcelona, Greg would have to be the diamond.

Greg is in his early forties, built like a block of granite and with his short cropped hair and prize-fighter’s jaw line, could easily be taken for a retired marine sergeant or a bodyguard for a trash metal group. That is until he opens his mouth to speak and gives you ‘ten sexy style points’ for your new haircut. This is when you realise that Greg is a big burly man that enjoys the company of other big burly men. He hails originally from a cluster of burbs in some dismal corner of a vaguely mid-western State but if you ask him about it, he’ll foam at the mouth, roll his eyes back into his head like the kid in the Shining and repeat ‘Never going back. Never going back...’ through gritted teeth.

Now among his other talents, Greg speaks three modern languages fluently - English, Spanish and Therapy. Yes, like most people who partake of the occasional session of cranial shrinkage, Greg has picked up the hyper-pragmatic lingo of the professional therapist. This makes him a great guy to talk to when you feel like dumping.

For example, you’ll be raving about how much you want to kill your neighbour and Greg will calmly empathise.

”Well, I respect that three o’clock in the morning is an unconventional hour to play samba music at full blast and I understand how that might make you feel somewhat frustrated”.

“Yeah, but Greg I wanted to go down there with a white hot poker and burn his fucking eyes out!”

“Well, that is a perfectly understandable way to feel considering the circumstances and I feel that it is a positive sign that you feel free to express those feelings”.

And Greg would never say that someone has a problem because people don’t have problems, people have ‘issues’ and what an ‘issue’ needs is ‘closure’…but usually not the white-hot-poker type of closure…or so Greg says….

Greg also subscribes to the New Yorker and when he’s finished reading them he unwisely ‘lends’ them all to me. Now like most people I don’t actually read the New Yorker, I just systematically scan it thus;
First scan – cartoons,
Second scan – short snappy articles,
Third scan – medium-sized, vaguely interesting-looking articles,
Fourth scan – how many pages is the Fiction? Sheesh, where is that little black diamond?
Fifth scan – I wonder if there's any beer in the fridge?

As a result of this, I never feel as though I’ve finished with the New Yorkers and have a foot-high pile of them lying in the corner waiting to be returned. Guilt has begun to take hold and finally this weekend I broke down and told Greg that they belong to him and he HAS to take them all back. Naturally, Greg said it was fine and that I shouldn’t worry about it. This made me grab him imploringly by the lapels:

‘You don’t understand, Greg. I HAVE MAGAZINE ISSUES!’


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