Thistle could take the past and move it forward. He could see the trends of the now, study the trends of the past, and advise for the trends of the future. He held the ability to make a killing on the stock market, if he desired. But he didn't, as you might have guessed.
He wasn't like anyone that you might know for the assertion of one’s individuality. He wasn't a Kurt Cobain or a Jack Kerouac.
He was not as much of a storyteller as he was a talker. He was not as much of a drifter as he was a wanderer. He was not as much of a philosopher as he was a thinker.
He was not Gayatri Spivak. He wasn't a Feminist Marxist Deconstructivist. Oh No. Thistle was more like the guy that they used to let pump your gas for you until it became more economical to do it yourself. Not someone you would expect to be able to map the future.
But the fire that burned in the belly of the body that encompassed a self concept identified to other self concepts as Thistle Penn was not a raging, acre scorching blaze; it was more of a pilot light. Hard to blow out, some of those pilot lights. And they just keep burnin' right along at an even, balanced pace, getting the job done, stepping ever closer to their destiny, ever closer to the doorstep of fate, where all becomes evident, and everything makes sense.
At this point in his life, Thistle didn't concern himself with his ultimate fate. He wasn't too worried about making sense. He was more worried about Speed. He had memories of a time in his past when Speed was very important to him. Not the speed that you ingest for its narcotic effect, but the concept of Speed. Take the Type A personality. Speed is important to this type of person. He lives life very fast. Efficiency means getting a lot of things done in as little amount of time possible.
There was a time when Thistle was very adamant about being efficient. Obsessively. As I said, Speed was very important to him. He wanted to learn and solve and create and construct. To experience the lifetimes of centuries into his own, to transfer the work of thousands of theorists and philosophers and scientists and wise men from all the cultures and societies of the world to the clay tablet of his mind and sculpt something even more dynamic, more controversial, more innovative, more genius than had ever existed before him-- that he could call Thistle Penn. That he would be known for and identified with.
The Thistle Penn Universe.
But that was in the past. That was years ago. That time was lost. Thistle now thought mostly about the moment just before the water in the glass that he tipped towards his lips touched his tongue, and then the feelings as it swished in his mouth. He didn't analyze why it swished or how it swished or even if it was a good or bad feeling. He just swallowed the water. Then he would set the glass down on the table.
It used to be coffee. Espresso. The name even implies speed. Express. Fast. He used to have a coffee maker that could have a piping hot pot of coffee ready in five minutes. And the rush-- caffeine was much more motivating than beer. Or water. Just a cup or two and he was out of his seat and doing things. Mailing letters, typing resumes for friends, making lists of book ideas. With coffee, sleep became a secondary need.
He used to be able, on one pot of coffee, to type a twelve page research paper in one day-- composing as he did the research. And that was after a night of drinking beer and wine and smoking pot until two thirty in the morning. He'd get up at ten or eleven and start the coffee, and by the time he had his books set up, the first cup was ready. Top of the mornin' to ya. Better than Cornflakes.
Now he liked to mellow more. He didn't think quite as much as he used to. He quit drinking coffee. It was important, he felt, that he had drank coffee for that period in his life (ah, youth!). And as far as drug use goes, from what he’d heard, it was a lot easier habit to break than cigarettes.
So water and the non-smoking section for Thistle. He didn't want to chance getting roped into that vice. He had wondered at the plight of the smoker a lot when he was pounding mugs of java. Now, he saw the smoke, and sometimes he watched it trail up around the ceiling fans and out restaurant windows, filtered slightly by the dusty screens in the summer. Other times he smelled it and tasted it along with his wheat toast or the first drink of water. But rarely, anymore, did he really think about it.