Nothing about Nothing
Six days from now – exactly 38 years ago – I met a guy named Frenchie. He was a longshoreman from Charlestown, MA, retired, a bad back, and he traveled all about the greater Somerville vicinity with a couple of cats named Eddie G. and Jack.
By chance having stumbled into this trio, and in those days without a lot to do, I began running with them. That generally looked like meeting in the Brigham’s Ice Cream parking lot on Broadway and getting in Eddie G’.s car. Those guys spent a lot of their nights going to and speaking at what you might call ‘self help’ meetings. They told me – the kid – it was good for them. They said stuff like, “You’ve got to give it away to keep it.”
During the years I continued to hang around I must have heard each of them make their little speeches 25 times, at least, and every time it was Frenchie’s turn up there at one podium or another he always said the same thing – “I don’t know nothing about nothing.” He never didn’t say that.
People generally would laugh when Frenchie would say the ‘nothing’ thing and for two years I thought he said it to get that laugh. At the two year point, and after more get in the car rides than I could count, I began to believe that he, Frenchie, really, in fact, believed it. He truly believed he didn’t know nothing about nothing and was simply telling it like it is.
Five years after I met Frenchie and began hearing his ‘story’ I called my best friend Bob Zimmerman, out in El Cerrito, CA, and when he picked up the phone and said “Hello” I said “I’m the thin man.” He said “Who is this?” and I said, “It’s me, Bro, and it’s dawned on me that I’m Bob Dylan’s Mr. Jones – the Mr. Jones of ‘Something is happening here and you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr Jones?’ Like I don’t know nothing.” I believe Bob’s reply was “No shit.”
I haven’t thought that way much these last 33 years. I don’t think about Frenchie too often. He and Eddie G. and Jack all left us long, long ago. Bob Z too. But this morning, this Tuesday, when I woke up and ached myself down into the meditation chair and onto the coffee and reading recliner, I sparkled with the certainty that, for me this Tuesday and like Frenchie always said, “I don’t know nothing about nothing.” Not today.
Nothing about nothing.