Friends. There are many levels of friendship. From casual to business to love to necessity, we seek friends and cultivate friendships to enrich our lives.
I sat in the front yard under a full moon, smoking a joint and listening to the Mariners game. I thought of Dr T. The Mariners have a pitcher named Joaquin Benoit. I almost hurt my head trying to make a “Benoit balls” pun in text-form to hurl at Dr T. Since my phone was inside, I’d save it for a rain-out.
Then I thought of another friend, a troublesome one. Maverick, the wheelchair-bound ex-Marine/ex-convict. His friendship has become disposable, and it’s to my advantage. He’s not much for conversation, we share little in common, but he does like money, and he has a huge monthly supply of morphine. We have had arrangements off and on for a couple years. He’s disappeared a couple times, but returns with a good story and a great deal on pills. Of course I forgive you. There’s always a misunderstanding, and it’s always resolved.
This time it’s not going to be resolved.
It was my weekend, and I had big plans.
Since I was low on funds, as usual, I figured it would be a good weekend to begin my ‘let’s get old and putter in the garden’ phase of life. I have already planned to buy some of those green rubber boots that I can slide on and off at the back door, just like Dad used to do.
I was met Monday morning with a full bathtub. Grit in the bottom, a noodle floating near the stopper, which had been removed by yours truly. WTF? We just put in a new drain a year ago. I’ve been pulling out wads of long hair with my artery clamps, but the last time I tried I pulled something up into the trap, and then nothing would drain. Shit. My bro-in-law had been asking if calling a real plumber would offend my sensibilities? (No, especially if you’re paying!) I rigged thousands of dollars of free plumbing for the house; he can cover RotoRooter.
“Are you guys cleaning again?” It was the neighbor across the street. We rarely speak, just keep our heads down and pretend the other doesn’t exist. It’s the great Southeast Portland way. Everyone behaves like it’s prison.
“Yeah, we do it every ten years, whether it needs it or not.” I smiled and tossed another load of yard debris into the construction dumpster. Bro-in-law had just come to help. It was last day of spring cleaning before they take the dumpster away.
We’ve been buying the same house in Lents for fifteen years now. It’s better now than it was when we bought it, mostly. We’ve replaced bathroom floors, hell, we replaced the bathroom. We’ve been through a couple bug infestations, and I’ve had a couple of girlfriend infestations as well. Her stuff has been harder to get rid of than the bugs.
In order to buy the house, all the adults have to work part-time as much as allowed to make bills. My sister has been throwing newspapers and working in a stable for years until recently. A cancer scare and some time to breathe showed her (with my encouragement) that there are easier ways to get through life than working yourself to death for nothing. She loves working with horses, but their attached humans can be the worst, so I helped her get a job cleaning human stables. (She’s a hotel room attendant now, in one of the mid-range downtown hotels.) It’s showing her the prettier side of Portland, and she can pop in to the Waterfront Store on her way home and drop off the daily newspaper. The Oregonian no longer gives her a free delivery paper, but the hotel put her in charge of recycling the dailies comped to the rooms. I get better Oregonian service from the Hotel!
So Sis is tired, and bro-in-law works until Tuesday, so it’s up to me to get this springtime yard clean-up rolling…
“Well, I been down so goddam long, that it looks like up to me…” –The Doors, 1970.
I’ve been meaning to write an objective piece about depression, but I’ve been too bummed out.
Among others, my nephew Tony and Robin Williams have been depressed to the point of suicide. I went through that in my teens, and have been okay for about forty years. Lately though, the heaviness has returned. I’m not suicidal, in fact I’m hopeful. My depression is drug-related. With Robin and Tony, I’m not so sure.
My dalliances with opiates have led to some side-effects. “It’ll never happen to me” isn’t something I tell myself. I’m too smart to think I’m the one unique person who can use major drugs without succumbing to the consequences. But I do pay attention, and when the bad outweighs the good, I take the appropriate steps.
That’s the plan, anyway.
I remember when weekends meant the drinking started Thursday, the acid got dropped on Friday. (After work.) Saturday you drank yourself down from Friday night, and Sunday you slept all day so you could string two sentences together on Monday.
Times have changed.
It had been an honest to dog three-day weekend. The sun was out, it was almost 90 degrees as I stepped into the Waterfront Store, ready to start my work week. I said hello to Mrs Brady, who was running about like a headless chicken. Freight had just arrived. “I’ll be here until six, we’ll get it done!” Her attitude is usually sunny, and we work well together.
I said hello to Uncle Cliffy, who grunted and said, “Boss wants to talk to you before you start.” His ominous tone gave me no concern. A chat with the boss is usually just that.
I was chatting with Officer Paul of Clean and Safe outside the Upscale Mall. The sunny weather, upper 80s in mid-April, had the loonies out in full force. I wasn’t working on this fine afternoon, but a walk downtown seems like work. Everyone knows me.
Officer Paul rode off toward the river, hmm, was something afloat?
The public’s attitude of late is like things that float.
In a terlet.
Sitting amid the scaffolding adjacent to the building was a homeless kid that looked like Booger from Revenge of the Nerds. He got up as soon as I went inside, snagged the bottle and sniffed it. “Hmm!” He shrugged and took a swallow. Then another. He went back into hiding.
I went back outside, and walked over to him. “It’s just Coke and Sprite, in case you’re wondering what you’re drinking,” I said.
“Thanks for telling me. I’m actually glad it’s not beer. I’m hung over as fuck already.” His big, raggedy smile was contagious.
Then a familiar face walked past. My little sister! Through a series of coinkydinks, her first attempt at applying for a job since 1988 was a grand-slam home run. She is now working in the housekeeping section of a swanky downtown hotel, keeping hours similar to mine. I’ve been known to meet her buses at random times, and sneak her into the bowels of the Waterfront Building late at night, albeit just to use the bathroom.
Any mischief in the basement is reserved for Rain and brave co-workers.
A lot of hiring and firing has been happening at my work. I haven’t had to train yet, but I encounter new faces in odd places. One guy was my freight help on Wednesday. On Thursday I was called because he had “been arrested for jaywalking and being held in $15,000 bail.” As Master P said, “He needs to be more forthcoming on why a jaywalking ticket costs fifteen grand.”
There are two attractive female new-hires. I am behaving myself.
I am behaving myself.
It seems like I’m on holiday. Maybe it’s just scheduling quirks, or the fact that Rain has been gone and I’m finally starting to decompress. I pick up every shift offered, making the check fluffier. I was stressing, until I looked at a calendar and realized I’m two weeks ahead on my bills. (Barring death or dismemberment, and we don’t want any of that.) Gots to pace myself. Behave myself. Stay healthy.
Rain took me to the store last night, and spent $81 on stuff I need in the day-to-day. She plans like a prepper, watches the deals, and hooks me up with stuff I always need. Flonase! That shit is expensive! I have a full four-month supply ready for when my current one runs out.
Denture materials? She bought the 120-day supply of effervescent tablets, which is about nine months worth for me. Polident, not the generic stuff. Yes, Virginia, there is a difference. She looked at the Fixodent. When I told Rain, “I have enough glue” she got the giggles.
“I don’t know why I find that funny.” She dabbed at the corner of her eyes.
Three economy-sized bottles of 91% isopropyl alcohol. For bug control, bong-cleaning, and emergency flushing when the fucking cats peel out on top of my foot. Cat scratch fever, duh duh, duh.
Viva paper towels. Because some things are worth it. I don’t bitch when she demands Cottonelle toilet paper, as long as I have Viva for my jizz-rags. We live large when it comes to paper products.
Buy one, get one half-off. Hello, ibuprofen! I greet every day with 1,200 mgs of generic Advil, since 1990. I would be an old cripple without it. Thanks to my baby, I haven’t paid for pills (the legal kind) in a couple years. And I won’t have to, until at least September.
Angel got a new job. It sounds like my nephew might be working at the neighborhood Freddy’s. The weather is turning around, I feel the need for yardwork. (That feeling is enhanced by the notice from the city to clean a few things up. Oh-kay…)
But first, I have a couple of lunch shifts to cover. I’ll be missing the Cubs home-opener, but there are 150+ games to go. Maybe a matinee tomorrow? Who am I kidding? Days of the Cubs as daytime TV drama are long gone. MLB network has lots of games at random times, so I will adjust accordingly. I still dream of a Cubs-Mariners World Series.
Time to make the doughnuts…
“Oh, this and that. Off work. Why you ask?”
“Because I have to come downtown for court, and I’ve missed you. Thought I’d say hi, and maybe even reapply to work with you…”
My heart hit the ceiling of my brain before bouncing southward to my crotch and back to chest level. “Angel back in town? I’m stumbling and stuttering with excitement already!”
“My court is at 1 PM. Want to meet before or after?”
“Do you have someone to go to court with you?”
“No. I’ve never even been in a courthouse, don’t even know which one to go to.”
“Would you like me to go with you?”
I was grinning ear-to-ear. “Text me the address of the courthouse. I will be happy to go with you. But… I have some marijuana to deliver first…”
I spent a couple days home in bed, just resting and waiting for the fever to break. It’s been a long while since I’ve had so much uninterrupted quiet time. I caught up on some TV, smoked four or five joints, and took about twenty naps as a result. I woke up in a sweat about an hour ago, and no longer feel like warmed-over death.