I had only had the pleasure of meeting Bill one other time...before our sons took us off into the weekend world of a cub scout campout. As we approach the middle-aged, soon to be divorced, man about the world, we should take note that my experience with Billy the Moneyman Johnson was entertaining, although not quite pleasant at times.
As we pitched our tents, I came face to face with Bill, who had been at the campsite for a while already, long enough to have set up camp. He brought an ice chest cooler with Lemonade, which was thoughtful for a 20+ kid camp-out. He did an excellent job of coaching the kids about locating the right sized rocks to build a fire pit. He helped the scouts construct a right proper and safe fire pit...complete with wood separated by size, according to the scouting handbook.
As time wore on, we began to see that Bill would be played, in our movie, by a combination of Steve Carell, touting his "I really am being a dumbass right in front of you" style, or Harry Dean Stanton's younger days (Repoman, or Pretty in Pink), as the well intentioned but socially bankrupt dad in Pretty in Pink. Actually, somewhere right in the middle...if we could make Matthew Broderick socially retarded, and give him a can of copenhagen...that's Billy boy.
Really, it started to go downhill with the guitar...
Shortly after the fire pit was nicely constructed, Bill began wandering the camp site with his guitar. I'm not even sure what he was playing, or if he was playing...really just being seen with his guitar. This alone will put you in total douche-ville, but was quickly to be out-done by...the sandwiches.
I had heard, as I worked to set up camp for my cub scout boy (7) and ride along daughter ( a precocious 9), that Bill had already eaten...as we ate sandwiches, so gracefully prepared by our Den Leader. My kids were busy tearing apart the sandwiches, which had mayo on them...damn picky kids.
Bill, and his boy...had eaten something along the lines of deer and seafood, which I quickly decided was a seriously wanting meal.
Later that afternoon, I was sitting at my campsite picnic table, with our Den Leader's husband, quietly listening to the Oklahoma State Football game. He quickly glanced up, and then back at me, with a somewhat concerned look on his face. A routine 180 glance of inspection revealed...Billy Boy, jaunting down the hill with two giant handfuls of sandwiches.
Now, there are times when you can duck and dodge...this wouldn't be one of them.
"Hey guys, my boy and I dropped our first doe last week, and she was huge, big and fat. We dressed her up nicely, and I made Shrimp and Venison Pate. Here have a sandwich..."
Knowing I was in for a land-locked shrimp sandwich...I quickly jumped on the grenade..."Hey [Den Leader], don't you have a shell fish allergy?" (I knew her husband was already dead too, but I thought I'd try to save her)
"No, why?" [Sandwich nicely handed to her] "Uhm...what is this again?"
"Shrimp and Venison Pate"
I have to say they weren't bad. Although I can tell you, movie-goers, I ain't eating another one if I can drown myself first.
Later that evening....
Sitting around the campfire, we sang songs, as cub scouts do...we sang Woody Guthrie's classic "This Land is Your Land", while William played his guitar. Then we had s'mores. It was a true blue campfire shindig, and it was fun...until...
[playfully strumming guitar] William clears his throat.
Oh, shit, what's gonna happen now, I thought...
"I'd like to play a little song for you now...in my life, I've been privileged to travel around the world a bit. A few years back, I was able to visit India. You know, there are a lot of starving kids in India. I really couldn't get over their bellies sticking out with hunger. So, I came back and wrote this little song."
[Song about starving kids at India]
I'd quote some of the words for you, but honestly, I was too busy enjoying my phone buzzing away in my pocket...
"What the fuck is this?"
"Where the hell did this come from?"
"Can you stop him?"
Just some of the texts that hit my phone in a matter of seconds, after the words started about starving kids in India.
I couldn't make it stop. I'm still haunted...not by the starving kids in India...but by the Most Desperate Man in the world....wanting someone to listen to him.
Bill changed for me right then. I saw him for what he was...and unfortunately, my compassion gene kicked in [damn my mother for giving me that].
This poor guy's life was falling apart, I didn't need the details...I could hear it in his voice. He had money, he had a successful business, 'had' a nice wife (although that's another sketch in itself), and a great kid...that he and his soon-to-be ex are busy trying to fuck up as seriously as they can.
He wanted...needed us, to like him. To listen to him. He'd been around the world, and had nothing to show for it, but a crumbling family. He wanted to grab a hold of something meaningful, and chose starving kids in India, instead of his wife and child.
So, I sat there and listened to him...not hearing the words, but hearing his request for a friend. I'm not sure I can be that friend, but I tried, at least for a few minutes. We drank coffee together and talked a little later, and again the next morning.
If I had been a true friend, which I just don't know him well enough to be...I'd have said, "dude, you are interesting, your son does love you, just quit being a douche-bag and roll with it a little. Quit trying to have it all together...we all know you don't...and guess what...we don't either".
So long William...there's a spot for you, if you'll shut the fuck up and chill out.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
San Antonio and back in a day is invigorating. Or, just plain "ating" anyway, whatever that means...insert your own words there if you feel the need.
But, enough about me, we talk of others, observed, watched, overheard, smelt, or whatever else constructs a sketch of someone I encountered once...
Over breakfast, I heard...(I'd say overheard, but I was seeking someone to pay attention to, so I don't think it was 'over')...a man talking upon his Japanese phone (my uncle uses that term, I stole it), about his day as he drank coffee and talked on the phone. He was a decent looking man, dress up a truck driving urban cowboy in a nicer pair of shoes and decent jeans. His clothes were nothing to write home about, but the conversation was promising.
"I told them that I wasn't making any money going on up to get that truck," he stated emphatically. "So, I told them bastards, I'm just flying home, buying a ticket and giving up on this one boys."
Now, I've no idea what the hell he meant, but really didn't need to...I don't care what he does...I just care about getting to watch and listen as he tries and does it.
The next call was to a buddy.
"Hey Billy, just seeing what you're up to...yeah, I came up to get that truck, but I can't even get to it and make money. Yeah, I gave up, which was fine with them as well...I said to them, 'I'm going home', and they were cool with it."
I'm not so sure he was as cool with it as he led on. First of all, you don't get from San Antonio to Tulsa...on accident. Secondly, you wouldn't even try, unless you had a point, or a mission in going there..why waste the money?
Phone call # 3 provided further enlightenment.
"Phil, yeah, get up...I'm heading back to San Antone, I should be there for lunch...yeah, today...why don't you meet down at that little place for lunch." Mystery Job Man was back on the move in San Antonio, he didn't have time to let his Rolling Stone gather any moss...truck, or not.
" Well, the bus station was all jacked up and by the time I was going to get up to that truck I wasn't gonna be making anything off it anyway. Yeah, the buses were all wrong and everything, so I just decided it wasn't worth it, and told THEM I was just buying a plane ticket home. Why don't you meet me for lunch? Yeah, that place, cool...see you soon."
Now I'm downright fascinated. The man with the leather folio that appeared to be a hell of a lot more organized than he originally came across...but, looks can be misleading. Tony did seem to have some shit together at least...even if he did happen to have to call everyone in his phone to let them know.
I was getting the message that this truck wasn't worth the trip...but that causes all sorts of problems:
- Was it a dumbass trip? Doomed from the start?
- Was he doing someone a favor?
- He sure is lonely, wonder if he's married...no call to the wife...[swiftly turning glance to see if plane is outside]...no ring either...Tony the Lonely Trucker.
- If the buses were all jacked, and he just dropped $250 for the one-way back to San Antonio...why didn't he just rent a damn car and go the damned truck?
- What kind of truck is it?
- Who's Phil?
I'm utterly fascinated by people like this. Tony the Lonely Trucker...he probably votes, drinks regular beer, and is a pretty good fellah, but fucks his life up a lot...which I take because he had to call several people just to tell them about it.
You make one or two calls, because you have information to get out there, whether it's to your boss, or your wife. You let folks know you'll be back early...
You call four people in the span of 10 minutes and I start to wonder...more questions...
- Why didn't you call Phil from the bus station?
- This truck you speak of...what exactly is in it?
- He better have gotten the full rubber glove body cavity search..."hello, I'd like a one way ticket to San Antonio...on the next flight out"...UHM, yeah, could you step over here sir...while we check your body cavity for IED's?
at this point, I decided that my wife's "uber creepy watching other people too closely" light was about to start flashing...so I backed off and finished breakfast.
I really don't think Tony the Lonely Flying Trucker was really cool with not getting the truck...my reasoning is mostly conjecture, but its the phone calls...4 of them...just to let seemingly random people know Tony ain't picking up the damn truck...
The other, sheerly circumstantial evidence I would put forth...for him not being totally cool with not picking up the Truck...would be that I passed him 5 minutes later, he had a 22 oz. beer in front of him.
Did I mention it was 8:15am? But, you know all I really knew was that he was on his way back to San Antonio, without the Truck, because it was hard to get to, and the buses were all jacked up...But, THEY were cool with that...
Oh, and he's having lunch with Phil.
Tony the Lonely Flying Non-Trucker...that's what we'll call him. Have a nice day Tony...I hope the next truck works out man...and make Phil buy if you can.