So many things we’ve known all our lives are going away. Some of it is evolution. Some is common sense. Or, in the situation of weed and the counter-culture, you become obsolete.
Who’da thunk potheads would become a recognized, respected, government-regulated bunch of tax-paying citizens? (I didn’t, in my lifetime.) Even more so, who would think that such government approval would cause things like head shops to fall by the way-side?
Such is the case with my favorite surviving head shop, The Third Eye on Hawthorne. All good things must come to an end.
I’m getting by, still getting used to being alone. This has been one of the easiest breakups ever, maybe because we’ve had so much practice? I am happy for Rain, and she seems happy. I’m supportive of her, and I’m glad someone is there to take care of her. Boy howdy.
But I also have to take care of myself. It would be easy to fall into over-medication, or have a few drinks. That’s not where I’m at. But I still wanted to cut loose. Is there anything left out there, weedwise, that will give me a buzz?
I found something while stocking up on vapor cartridges. I looked at the young budtender and asked, “I have gotten high off spaghetti sauce and chili, but beef jerky? Really?”
“Oh ho ho,” he chuckled wisely. “Look at the numbers, 150 mgs…”
“Seven dollars? I’ll take three.” If they sucked, I was out $20. If good? I have a new bestest friend.
There were eight pieces. They tasted like kippered beef, I had no idea how they got the drug on there, spray? Is this what my lungs look like? (I saw an ad for Motel Hell; human jerky has been on my mind…) I nibbled about a third, fifty milligrams. Repeated later on, it was a nice, even high. I hate having pepperoni breath, and bits of meat in my remaining teeth, but the slow-creeping buzz made up for these inconveniences. I saved a dose for work. Who knows, it may save someone’s life.
Life rolls on. I have been trying to pick up as many hours at work as possible. I chat with Dizzy. I helped Dr T pay his phone bill so I have someone to text randomly. (He was cool without a phone for a week, but apparently I wasn’t. He can catch up with me after payday.)
Festus has disappeared into the country. Maybe he quit paying his cell phone bill, I dunno. He’s quit talking to me.
The other residents of the burned-out hotel will visit, or text. One of the locals called me, all excited about some pills. When I looked up the numbers, it broke his heart. Those aren’t oxys, those are furosemide. AKA water pills. Talk about pissed!
Work has its share of drama. I’m just trying to keep my head low, be useful and productive. I was given yesterday off, freight day. I usually run a till and put stock away; it takes the whole shift but I have most done by lunch. My coworker, at 11 PM last night, was still knee-deep in cardboard, no idea how he was going to get it all done.
Well, I’m not going in early today. I figure I’ll get there about the time they get yesterday’s work done.
Money shenanigans from “friends” started the day. Small loans over the course of the month earn me bus passes from the indigent. When it came time for “the envelope please,” they are nowhere to be found. While scrambling to set up and pay for new bus passes, I get a call from Rain. “Can I borrow $20 until midnight?”
“Sure.” We do this all the time. I loan her my meager available checking account balance, and when her check clears at 10 PM I am standing there with her at the ATM to get it back. “Are you at home?”
“No, I’m in the Pearl, staying with a Frenn… Just call me when you get to 10th & Johnson, and I’ll meet you at the park.”
Frustrated with the day, I looked forward to seeing her. We haven’t been spending much physical time together, but we talk constantly on the phone, and I usually feel better after seeing her. But she’s been alternating between being super vague and then referencing “her Frenn…” I figured something was up.
When I got to the park, she wasn’t there. I called. “I’ll be right down,” she said. I watched the doors to the buildings, soon I heard her calling my name, “Outie!”
I walked toward her. Got a hug, slipped her some cash. “Can I also get back the $30 you borrowed earlier this month?” After some reminding, she agreed to do so. “Cool, I will call you about 9:30, and we can meet up?”
“Sure,” she said. “I guess you’ve figured out by now I’m in a relationship?”
“Yeah, I kinda figured,” I said.
“He’s an old friend. We laugh and laugh…”
“What’s his name?”
“Herbert, but everyone calls him Bubba. Like my dad. Funny, huh?” She paused, “Don’t be mad, Charlie.”
I wasn’t. “I understand. I hope you are happy.” Fortunately the train came pulling up about the same time the tears did.
She kissed me on the lips. “We will always have each other, Charlie. That won’t change. You will always be my special friend.”
I bid her so long. She still had my $50…
When I returned by 9:20, she was “getting dressed, be right down.” That can take anywhere from two minutes to two days. I sat on the bench, looking for her other special friend who was meeting us. He knows her money habits as well.
I waited until ten, and then called. Got lots of screaming and yelling about stupidity. “I’LL BE RIGHT OUT!”
About fifteen minutes later she came out, with her overnight bag. She put down her stuff, wheezing, her COPD in full force. (I guess she’ll be dropping dead on someone else’s dime now.) She was cussing people, cussing me, then saying, “I’m up there in this man’s house, yelling and screaming at IDIOTS! I’m not mad at you, Charlie.” Soon a cab was pulling up, and we were on our way to the ATM. She will pull money out, hand it to me, and I will be down the road. Last trolley in a couple minutes.
“Hey, I can use the ATM at Safeway!” She left us in the cab and ran into the store. Shit. This might take a while.
After sitting with the cabbie for ten minutes, I went in, finding her testing scented sprays in the home department. “Babe, the cab is waiting.”
“I’ll be right there. Everyone always trying to hurry me.”
“Is there a bathroom here?” I got the code and left her at the register.
When I returned, she’d rung up $127 in purchases, “after Club Card $88! I saved $39!” Yes dear, but did you really need four pine-scented bathroom cones?
I wheeled her cart out to the cab and loaded its trunk while she talked on the phone. She palmed me $50. “Is that all I owe you?”
“Yes, babe, we are all even. Thank you. Now I have to get walking, because I have missed the last trolley.”
“Well I was gonna offer you a ride–”
But I’d turned and left, and when I stopped to look back, the cab was pulling off in the direction of downtown. “Well shit, if you were gonna offer!” I shouted silently in my brain.
I pulled out my phone and called Transit Tracker. Sixteen minutes to catch the Green Line in Old Town. The walk would do me good, and I will make it if I don’t get mugged.
I texted Rain one more time. “I made the train with four minutes and 3% phone power. I’m going to miss saying this, but Goodnight, Rain.” I used her given name so she would know I’m serious. It was a code of ours. Innie and Outie have become a retired memory.
I cut down alleys, cruised through the North Park blocks. I texted Angel first, giving her the news. She’s single too? Slow down, big fella, it’s only been a couple hours. I texted Dizzy, who offered feline hugs as well as human, but I was in no mood to be around people. I went home, ate a simple green salad and went to bed.
Yes, I will miss the shared intimacy of my friend Rain’s presence. I will miss telling her I love her, and will really miss calling or texting, telling her good night and good morning, like I do most days. It’s no longer my department, and an insult to her new man.
Six years ago, I was the new guy. When I finally met the old boyfriend, we recognized each other and got along well. The women in my life have had pretty good taste in men, which is both reassuring and flattering. I’m not running with a bad crowd.
I will miss being a boyfriend. I loved spending four hours riding trains across town to bring her candy, or a pack of cigarettes. I will miss her angular beauty in the night, and the smoothness of her cocoa thighs, but that part of our relationship died last year. I figured I would be the one to eventually get horny.
So it’s not the end of the world this time, but I do feel a bit gut-shot. I will stop feeling guilty when her friends flirt with me; in fact, I may just flirt back. But I’m not jumping into her end of the pool for awhile. The dust needs to settle.
Meanwhile, I need to work on finding some new female readers…
Tap tap tap. My Sister was knocking.
She entered my room, pulling on a vapor pen. “I didn’t charge my pen yesterday. If you want to charge this up and take it to work with you…?”
“Sure! Thanks.” She handed me the pen, I took a pull. I felt a wave of warmth sweep over me. “Wow, I felt that!”
I have been experimenting with different strains of weed, and am always open to new ways to get stoned. The orange-tipped pen was different than most; it would not get you high, but you feel it in the body. Only 7% THC, but it packs a walloping 65% CBD. That’s the stuff that makes you not feel your feet.
We discussed aches and pains, the rain must be coming. It’s been sunny and gorgeous of late, but the weatherman says that’s about to change. So do my bones. I inherited red hair and a sense of humor, as well as rheumatoid arthritis. All three are making an appearance this morning.
It’s back to work day. Marcus Annoious has had a stroke, and no one has heard from or about him for several days. We hope he’s going to be okay, but I’m thinking if he was okay he would have called. It’s been several days. Godspeed, buddy.
On the upside, I will get at least three hours overtime this week. (More, if Giggles is his usual late self. Not bitching this week!) After two weeks of hours being cut, I am back to where I won’t sweat making the rent.
Time to make the doughnuts…
So when I hurried to do laundry this morning, I should have known better and just ‘got there when I got there.’ The lady at the Candy Store was chatty, and it took her an eternity to count out my nine dollars’ worth of quarters. When I was fifty feet from the MAX and it left without me?
I sat next to either a sketchy stripper or a hot homeless gal, I couldn’t tell which. She was doing her makeup from a large duffel bag while we waited. Seventeen minutes later, I was on the MAX, two stops away from the laundromat and my next two hours of amusement. Oh joy!
I shared the laundromat with a skinhead and his also-stripperlike girlfriend. They didn’t seem to be doing laundry. They sat there, eating a jumbo box of butterhorns and played with their phones. Stepping outside only to smoke, they appeared to have no legitimate reason for being there. None of my business…
I put an extra quarter in each dryer, figuring six minutes would be mold insurance. (“We must NOT smell like must!”) I played on Twitter, texted a couple buddies. Mostly I enjoyed the uninterrupted solitude. The Neo-Nazis were being vewwy-vewwy quiet. Bless you, smartphone inventor! I folded at a leisurely pace, and, since no one was inside, I changed clothes. Clean jeans, favorite black pocket tee. I added a clean hoodie for insulation, and got back to overthinking the folding of the wardrobe.
As I stepped out of the laundromat, I saw the Green Line pull away. Great, now I had seventeen minutes to walk three blocks. I stepped to it. I have learned that all that dickin’ around can get you distracted to where you miss the next departing bus. I occupied a bench, and almost nodded off. Another seventeen-minute interlude, accompanied by the dulcet tones of Paul McCartney and Wings. We gonna get hi hi hi…
After an eternal wait, the train came. I dragged my black-bag-disguised granny cart of clothes into the handicapped section. Opting to stand for the two stops, I scanned the train car. I was still sleepy from dozing at the bus bench. I smiled at the pretty young lady walking my way. She seemed persistent in making eye contact. She kinda looked like, no way…
It was Angel.
“HI!” She nuzzled up next to me, and kissed my cheek. I reciprocated, suddenly feeling like a genius for changing into clean clothes at the laundromat.
She looked darling as ever. I hadn’t recognized her when I’d scanned the MAX car, but as soon as I saw her twinkly smile I was warm and fuzzy as ever. My train stop came way too soon. I told her, “I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. Now I’m gonna go home and think about you some more…” I gave a love-pat to her squeezably-soft backside.
If I’d caught that first train I’d have not seen her. So I offer a hat-tip to the gods of random, who managed to reward my patience with a hug and a squeeze from someone I’d been missing terribly. I had a spring in my step, and suddenly I wasn’t sleepy anymore.
Blessed by an angel with butterfly wings.
I remind myself each day how blessed I am. As the years tick off and the end approaches, I wonder if this is the last stop? Will I come back somewhere else in time, hopefully the future? I kinda doubt it; this sorta feels like a one-shot deal. But I dare to dream.
A lot has happened in the span of my lifetime. When I was a kid, if you had a phone it was attached to the kitchen wall, and everyone in the neighborhood knew your business. (It was called a party-line, and you had to wait your turn.) You could also listen in. Our neighbors were boring, but I pretended to be Gene Hackman tapping wires and spying on ne’er-do-wells. I’d record their conversations because I could. Now I have a phone I can watch TV on, make a movie on, play cards on… My dad would be blown away. He dated on horseback.
As technology advances, I try to keep a grounded view. I keep a couple acoustic guitars, a harmonica or twelve, and a set of bongos, because YouTube won’t have my favorite songs available if the lights go out. I think we have a manual typewriter in the shed; I should dig it out. But finding a ribbon for it? Note to self: Buy a few spiral notebooks to go with the dime-bag of ink pens Lucy bought me.
OTOH, I can tell you where my bus is with a couple taps of a button. I have 300 or so TV channels to choose from at home, and I could take those channels on the road with me, and watch them on my phone. Thing is, I catch myself chastising myself for staring at my phone when Mother Nature’s beauty presents itself to me. I should be staring out the window, gazing stupidly into space.
But I can do that when the battery on my phone dies.
I wasn’t quite that broke, but I had just finished getting all my bills current. Mortgage, credit card, bro-in-law/weed-card loan, etc… I had about ten bucks left, in the aforementioned configurements. It would be enough to get me dinner and a ride.
She got off work at 6:30. Knowing I would go insane and smoke waaay too much weed while waiting, I chose to meet her at the airport. “How about we meet where we used to play Scrabble. Security gate D?”
We have developed an open-door policy. If she wants to go out, we let her. Bathroom accidents are virtually non-existent, and to call her in all we have to do is wrinkle a bag of Cheetos. (She’s not particular; crunchy or puffy is fine. No Flamin’s tho.) She crashes head-first into the back door, sending it flying open. It sounds like a police raid.
Sometimes she just wants out to chase Django. Django may be old, but he’s got a mean left hook. He’ll drop three jabs on Luna before she knows what’s hitting her. They have an okay rapport, but Django gets respect.
Luna’s not against trying new things. After initial trepidation regarding the bathtub, she now loves wash time. But the latest fun and fascination?
She’d been coming in and out, saw the stuff on the ground, curious but not thrown by it. But when it started falling from the sky? Welcome to the land of confusion!
She looked around, up and down. She looked to Sister for reassurances, who acted like it was as normal as anything. So did Luna, until a snowflake hit her in the eyeball.
You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a puppy get angry with the snow. She jumped, barked, looked to see who was sprinkling this shit all over us? After a few seconds she mellowed out, and returned to the house looking like she’d come down with the world’s worst case of dandruff.
She’s got it under control now. She plays in the snow just like she plays in the mud; balls out. (Well, in a manner of speaking.) She’s still not big on visitors, but she’s keeping the house safe from squirrels and snowflakes.
There has almost always been a dog in my life, and not on purpose. As an adult, I couldn’t justify taking responsibility for another life when I couldn’t control my own. And I’m too selfish. But, others have dogs, and like children, you can get the effect without signing on for life. I’ve always enjoyed other people’s dogs.
Growing up, we had an old Australian Shepherd that was the coolest, mellowest ol’ dude. He would run the fence along the backyard, chasing the neighbor’s car. (We often wondered what he would do if he actually caught it?) That, and not-so-gentle rebuffs of his companion dog’s homosexual advances, were the only times we saw him get his gruff on. Most of the time it was a big-dog grin and a hummingbird-like tail.
Major, the ‘gay companion’ to the elder statesman, became ‘that way’ after Dad “fixed” him. Major never reproduced after the boot and the knife; he showed no interest in females after that, either. Major was half pug, half Chihuahua, and if you’d spit on the ground he’d go lick it up. He was the coolest city dog a country boy could own.
Of course, you know about Sandy, beloved canine matriarch of our home the past few years. She served us well, and we miss her. But there’s a new lady of the house.
And she’s all country.
2016 has been one hell of a rough year, and it’s not over yet. Mrs Brady died last night. Damn. (Florence Henderson, not my Mrs Brady. She works at the weed store across from Rain’s.) I have lost friends, and mortal luminaries from the music and video world have gone to the great beyond.
So far, death has missed my immediate friends and family. Praise cheeses!
I am thankful, so thankful, for that. And a few other things.