Recently while on vacation in Greece I was looking for some more lighthearted literature and picked up Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski. Well, let’s say it wasn’t exactly the feelgood read I sought, but the story of the potato chip friendship stuck with me.
[00:00:00] I’ve been reading Rye on Ham from Charles Bukowski. And I’ve been stuck in the mix between, this is so refreshing, really different in writing style to all the Russian writers I’ve been reading recently because it’s so, you know, it’s like short sentences, punchy, simple language. Yeah. It’s sort of nice. I kind of like it. I also reading him matches at least this early, too. The impression he, as a person has made on me where it’s kind of rough, dirty and you know, kind of color for me to see the video.
[00:00:36] I haven’t seen his video. So when I saw it, it was magic. I read pretty, I guess, probably all of his books, like at least three or four times. So, wow. At least like seven, eight videos of him. I never read a book. I hadn’t had a sense of him as a person. And I knew I liked him and I knew I probably would like his books, but I’d never read them.[00:01:00]
[00:01:00] And so now that I started, I’m like, oh, this is, you know, this is kind of rough, dirty blue color, but also with a beautiful super-fine sensibility, poetic view of life. Right. In all the, you know, being in a back alley covered in puke, but still kind of, yeah. Th there’s there’s, uh, there’s definitely a sensitivity to his roughness, right.
[00:01:26] Beautiful perception. Um, but it’s also, again, kind of very dark. Right. Like, I, I don’t know where this is going, but I don’t see it yet. Happy place, you know? Uh, he has humor, like uses humor in it. Yeah. But it’s dark, dark. That has happened. Just one thing after the other that makes you feel bad about humanity in one way or another.
[00:01:54] There’s really no latest. I’m like, wow. Look at how this is completely [00:02:00] opposite in writing style. The temple, the style, the time period, the voice, everything is as far away from like the Russian existentialist or whatever the fuck you want to call them. The, the, the dusty Yefsky in Tolstoy’s. It was very, very different.
[00:02:17] But the darkness is the same. Like what the fuck? And it does not match my current mood or my environment. Right. I mean like breeze, this beautiful ocean and I’m reading this and I can’t quite enjoy it because I’m like, ah, I like the snappiness of it that fits my mood. But I, the subject matter is so dark in some ways that I’m like, whoa, this is so heavy.
[00:02:44] Um, And there’s one little part in it. That’s why I wrote to you something about like eating chips and you’re like, what the hell do you want from me Stella? And I said, I’ll tell you later, is that partway becomes friend. Whereas like the school is this outsider. People think he’s [00:03:00] crazy because he’s not talking is sort of weird, weird.
[00:03:02] And he hates all the people in the school and all people in general, and it has a very difficult home life. And so there’s this nerd that sits next to him one day and he’s like, Hey, my name is so-and-so, what’s your name? And he thinks he takes a look at the kid anythings. This kid is a total nerd. I don’t like him and the kid is like, oh, my name is so-and-so, what’s your name?
[00:03:21] And he’s like Henry and the kid is continuing, oh, I have a peanut butter sandwich. Do you also have a sandwich? And he’s like, what does this nerd want from me? I don’t like him. And then he goes, you want some potatoes? And he looks at the potato chips and he’s like, they were crisp and you could see the sunlight through them.
[00:03:39] They were thin and crispy and salty, and it took a potato chip and there were great potato chips. And then the kid keeps talking to him, you know, he’s like, oh, you know, how does that nether? And you know, I take another potato chip and then it’s like, ah, the kid is like, Hey, uh, should we go home back to school together?
[00:03:57] He was like, not answering. I was like, all right, bye. [00:04:00] And he leaves and he’s like, those were great potatoes, right? He’s just like on that thing. And then when there are, when he’s about to go to school, all of a sudden that nerd appears next to him and they walk next to each other and he, he sort of, he doesn’t like him, but he sort of allows it to happen.
[00:04:16] And, you know, a couple of moments later, there’s a bunch of bullies that were waiting after school to hit up the nerd. And that kind of explains why the nerd wanted a new friend and walk into somebody’s home. And, uh, they start, you know, grabbing the nerd and punching him and throwing on the ground and like fucking.
[00:04:35] And then they look at him and they’re like, oh, you’re the friend of the nerd. We’re going to hit you too. And they kind of intimidate him and they’re about to hit him, but they finally don’t do it. And so you walk to the nerd home and the is nerd is like bloody nose. All his clothes are fucked. And he had this like super high pans.
[00:04:54] Suspenses like the super, the look that made him get, you know, bullied and [00:05:00] punched and they get to his, to his home and the kid walks in and he hears his mom going, what? Your clothes are a mess again, your face is a mess. Why aren’t you doing this every day? I’m telling you today, your clothes have to be perfect every day you come here, like you were like, so wild animal, blah, blah, blah.
[00:05:18] And the kid is not answering. And she keeps screaming at him. The kid’s not answering. And then she starts hitting him and she’s like hitting the kid and he can hear it. You know, crying. And then at the end, she goes, okay, now go practice. Your violin is like when he starts playing the violin. And I don’t like how it sounds, you know, and I get up and I leave and then I don’t know how he wrote it.
[00:05:40] He wrote it beautifully, but radically. You know, I, I went back on my, he played the violin. I didn’t like how it sounded. So I started walking home. Those were really good potato chips, you know? And then he goes to the next shutter, know that to me was so beautifully, beautifully [00:06:00] described sometimes. That, both the complexity on the one hand, you know, this, this nerdy kid is a whole life story that is packed in these three pages of who this kid is.
[00:06:12] What burdens this kid carries and what motivated this kid to feel the need to find a friend and the way he approached, you know, you know, with friendliness then with offering a sandwich then with like offerings, like what can I give you to make you like me and stay close to me because I’m afraid and alone.
[00:06:34] And then on the flip side, the simplicity. In which sometimes we choose relationships. Right. That Hendrick kid is just like, I don’t like this guy. What does this guy want from me? This guy’s a nerd. Fuck this guy. But then, oh, potato chips, these potato chips are really nice. And that’s it like on the one hand, it’s like, why did you seek out this human connections?
[00:06:59] Like, well, I’m [00:07:00] lonely and bullied. I’m afraid that, that all this dramatic stuff. And why did you allow this human connection? Potato chips. You know, I had really nice, but I had really yummy potato chips. There was no other reason, you know, like nothing about this kid, but you know, and then the next few days in the story, they still hang out.
[00:07:20] It’s the main connection from Henry side, main character, side data chips, you know, and, and this seems comically childlike. But it is definitely something that has happened in all of our lives as adults. Yeah. Sometimes people are, people allow other people into their lives. And you go, this makes no sense this relationship.
[00:07:50] Why are you hanging out with this person? This person is an asshole. This person is loud, obnoxious. This person is selfish. This person is this, this person, is that? Why do you, why are [00:08:00] you friends with that person? And the answer could be as simple as potato chips. It could just be because it’s rich. And I, and I feel like it’s really nice to be with around somebody that’s successful.
[00:08:11] Maybe I’ll get successful too, or it’s. He’s attractive. He’s really pretty. This is a very beautiful man and I feel really ugly and it’s kind of cool that a beautiful person wants to be my friend. Although I think it’s very rare that somebody is. Honest and clear even towards themselves about it, right?
[00:08:28] No. Yes. Like stories, right? Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Yes. You’re absolutely right. People don’t go. I hate everything about this guy, but potato chips are nice. Right? This requires honesty that maybe only children have, right. That is an answer you would get from a child. Why don’t you, your friends with that kid? He has a video game.
[00:08:49] I like this. This is the kind of answer you would get from a out. But we as adults, we have to come up with some kind of story that sounds better to us and to others. But oftentimes it is just that [00:09:00] it’s like one thing and it’s not necessarily a quote unquote good, healthy, deep, honest. It’s just some little thing that hooks us to them.
[00:09:10] And on the flip side, you know, the unevenness sometimes a relationship right where two people are lovers friends, co-founders business partners. Whatever neighbors. And there’s a drastic unevenness on why these two people do this together. One person is like, well, you know, I was never a love. I mean, again, they wouldn’t say it, but you could, if you knew the life story, it would be easy to extrapolate that.
[00:09:40] Well, they were, you know, And, you know, never loved by their parents. There had the difficult is difficult that, and they are lonely and they’re seeking relationship. And the only way they know how to find a relationship is because they have financial means to start a business with somebody else and to offer lots of money.
[00:09:57] Right. And that’s going to make them feel connected. [00:10:00] And for the other, person’s like the only reason I’m with this person is money. So, but, and, uh, you know, and I don’t think about them. I don’t care about them. And if it goes, if the connection. Breaks. It’s nothing. It’s like a very small relationship versus for the other one, it’s kind of a monumental thing.
[00:10:16] It’s very, very important why they, why they’re seeking to be around you. Even if you think about like some woman in, in a really abusive relationship, right. Where they get beaten up and everything, but they also get attention. Right. And that’s all they want. That’s all a lot of intention. Yeah. They get it.
[00:10:36] They get real significance, right. Because they’re not being ignored. The person feels very strongly towards them. Even if it’s something that’s really, really bad. Um, I mean every victim and abuser relationship, not to downplay it, but it’s always a dance of two people. It’s always bilateral deal. Yeah. It’s seek and find, you know, like th th the people [00:11:00] choose to find.
[00:11:02] Sometimes people that will treat them badly or choose to find people that they will easily be able to mistreat. Um, and it’s a core corporative effort. It’s not a singular effort. I just loved now. I can’t like this to me. Potato chips now sucks. This is stuck in my mind. I look at people that go, oh, this is potato chip.
[00:11:25] This is, this is the potato chip. This is why I like this person. This is why I allow this person into my life and into all these situations, Um, but I, I wonder if, there’s a lot of, yeah. Potato chips in our lives that we then transformed through the power of duration into. I saw that he needed a friend and I related that he also had a difficult home life.
[00:11:52] And I think what connected us was that being lonely in school. And so I thought I’d be his friend and it’s usually narration. That is. [00:12:00] Soothing and self-serving right. It’s like some version that is not as trivial and kind of, I don’t know. I mean, you could, you could judge one for saying the reason I’m hanging out with his guys, because he offers me salty potato chips.
[00:12:16] That doesn’t seem honorable. It doesn’t seem admirable. Right. So we twist things around in ways that still make sense to us. Right. We could easily convince ourselves. Yeah. I was lonely and he wasn’t, maybe we were both lonely and that’s why we became friends. It kind of makes sense that version of reality, and that would make sense to everybody else.
[00:12:38] And it kind of sounds sweet and nice and good versus the, I didn’t pay attention to what he was telling me, but he was offering. You know, chocolate. And so I was hanging out with him because I liked the chocolate that he was having that know that if you tell this to somebody as an adult, it’s almost impossible that you would not get criticized [00:13:00] for this.
[00:13:03] It’s also
[00:13:04] kind of where you set the standard, right? Like I think in friendships, if that’s the standard you set. Probably not a, not a very happy personal life now in work. I actually think this is probably the much more common scenario where, you know, you work for whatever company they give you the paycheck, they give you this, they give you and everything.
[00:13:29] And it’s like, yep, that’s the potato chip. Even though you don’t give a fuck about this company, that’s whatever you end there, you know? Fulfillment department. And all you do is like put in the numbers here to there. And it’s like, there’s a, yeah. There’s nothing in it. Other than that potato chip. Yeah.
[00:13:50] There, there are areas in life. More transactional than others. Yeah. And the more transactional the relationship, the more obvious it is if it’s clean or [00:14:00] not, and the easier it breaks apart when it’s not working, you know, if I walk into a grocery store, I give you two bucks, I pick up whatever and I leave.
[00:14:09] It’s very transactional. Like I obviously just want the gum. I didn’t walk into your store because I care about you, your life, the employees of your company, your future, your struggles. The gum also care about, which is also, which is also fine, right? Like in this case, whatever. But to me there’s still like when you’re working for a company, you basically giving a third of your lifetime, right.
[00:14:32] As long as you’re employed to the company. And then if it’s, if all it is, is that paycheck, right. But you hate the job or you really don’t give a fuck about anything. That’s tougher than walking into a store where you don’t know. Of course, it’s not just tougher. That’s sad. Yeah, because you could do like this let’s say work.
[00:14:59] [00:15:00] There is, let’s say family, and then let’s say to simplify, you know, friends and whatever. There are people that in all three areas are potato chip focused. They work somewhere where they think they’ll have optimal, transactional value, they can abstract or something. That’s very precious that everybody will admire them for they hang out only with, they only have friends that will make them feel a certain way like this.
[00:15:28] Sometimes there’s a, there is a, um, celebrity bar close by, at this Airbnb. And when you go last night, we went to dinner there and there was a huge table of like 35 people. And there was clearly that it was once. And then there were 35 people that were the, you know, the, uh, not the enterprise, but kind of the, the swarm around parasites around a whale.
[00:15:59] And [00:16:00] you could with the women in that group, you could easily. Make an interpretation that would say here’s somebody that’s not very attractive. That’s not very young, but that seems to be powerful. And well-known, and here seems to be, you know, 15 women that are very young and incredibly attractive. All right.
[00:16:23] Hi, get, I wonder what they have in common to be such good friends in breaking bread and having dinner together. And it’s clear there that it’s a very transactional, right? Like I want to be the rich dudes want to be with as pretty, as many pretty women as possible. And that’s, those are their friends. They go on vacations.
[00:16:41] They invited all these in by beautiful looking people. To hang out to go on travels, to be their friends, because they seek beauty as a thing that would make them feel good. And these beautiful people, they don’t have wealth. So they’re like friends that try to seek friendship [00:17:00] with wealth because they want to have wealth experienced wealth in their life.
[00:17:04] So it’s very potato chip transactional, although they are playing the theater of, we are friends. Oh my God. I love him. Oh my God. She’s amazing. We’re such good friends, but. There is not much depth that friend, you know, the, the nobody’s really listening to anybody and each one is grabbing into each other’s potato chip bag and it’s picking up the yummy potato chip.
[00:17:30] And at the end of any interaction, they both reminisce. Those were good potato chips, right. They, they, they’re not reminiscing. Wow. I love Frank. Right. I like being around Timmy. It’s like, I like the potato chips. Yeah. You could do that in, in your kind of friend circle. And some people do that with their family, right?
[00:17:49] Either by rejecting that family or by being in a closer relationship with one person in the family, because of something, something they’re getting from that person, maybe it’s, you know, the mom that [00:18:00] is, you know, drastically affectionate. And so whenever I go, she’s like, she’s doing everything for me.
[00:18:05] She’s cooking for me. She’s cleaning for me. And so I have a very close relationship with my mother, but it’s not a close relationship. You don’t know shit about your mom. You never, you’re never interested in her and how she’s really doing it. What you’re interested in is the potato chips she’s offering you.
[00:18:17] Right. You’re just there to get something. Um, and in work in work, it’s probably mostly the case, right? There’s people that do this in all areas of life. There’s people that do this in two out of three. And there’s people that only do this in one. And if it’s only in one, it’s most likely in the work one, right?
[00:18:35] Because that seems to people because it’s a more transactional place of life, category of life. People go, well, why are you working in this big, whatever, you know, accounting firms? And they’re like, well, you know, it’s a big name and a lots of people want this job. And my parents would be really, [00:19:00] are really happy that I work there.
[00:19:02] And you know, if I work 15 years really hard, I could make partner. And if you listen to this, those are all potato chip potato chips, but those are not good reasons. Other people will like it. Other people approve of it. Other people desire. Those are not good reasons for you to do something. Right.
[00:19:24] I love it. Like I, there’s still a lot of book left to read, but this will never leave me in this little interaction between two children, two outsiders in the school that lasted four pages still working in the back of my mind on my potato chips. Yeah, this is it. It’s so simple sometimes. Yeah. I just like the salty potato chips you offering me.
[00:19:47] I dunno. Also if it’s, if it’s the same book or. this also like one, one story where he describes how he’s sitting at the table with his parents and then the father is [00:20:00] talking and then he’s eating and he’s chewing and he slept the sound of the chewing is getting so,
[00:20:10] and that he sees in it like a representation of almost everything is wrong. It is the same book. One scene that’s even more powerfully described to me. At least it’s stuck out for me where the first time where he gets hit by his father, like, you know, hands down strap and then really like being whipped to pieces.
[00:20:34] And then he has to come down for the day. And he goes to the dinner table and he goes, um, I’m not that hungry. Can I please go back into my room? And then the father screens light the food that your mother made you going to eat every little piece that played, it’s going to be clean. Like nothing nothing’s going to stay on is sit down and eat and be okay.
[00:20:54] Appreciate it. It sits down and he’s like, That food was not [00:21:00] food. It was his parents, it was everything they live for and they represented, and it was swollen, swallowing it without chewing. And I was like, oh, this is so fucking hard. Like seeing that plate, you know, the mashed potatoes, the steak, the, you know, that like, Whatever fifties food that the average American family would make.
[00:21:24] And then he’s like seeing his parents and everything they stand for. And it’s just like swallowing it down hard because he cannot chew it. You know, I was like, fuck, this is, this is powerfully written