I'm sure you've noticed the latest widget we've installed here at Candy & Cigarettes (it's over there on the right), which allows us to track, real time, who's reading this blog and where they are from. For instance, yesterday, we had a visitor from Gronigen. Not sure where that is. Not even sure if it's a real place. Is it a country? A town? A way of life? I don't know. But it makes me feel special to be loved by so many people who clearly have never met me.
This blog is my connection to the outside world. I bought some exercise equipment last week, essentially an entire health club, which I've set up in my basement. Everything I could possibly want to workout. (Some people buy home gym equipment or a fitness club membership, and never use it; it sits there, a waste of money. I use this chart.
Couple this with my working from home, and aside from my weekly appointment with my shrink, the grocery store run for more meat, I don't have much reason to leave my house. In fact, after my home gym was installed, I realized, as I picked up my son from daycare the other day, that it had been four days since I left the house, my skin a glistening translucent white.
I've often said on here how nothing good happens when I leave the house. My buddy, Petersen, who's almost 70, says at his age, he doesn't even like looking out the window, let alone walking out the door. At 41, I can see where I'm going to end up. I've pretty much followed Petersen's life path. To a T.
When I was 18, hanging out with Jimmy at the Community Center in Berlin, Petersen was as old as I am now. I remember when he got his wife pregnant. Incomprehensible to me at the time, to be saddled with that kind of weight, marriage, house, kid.
"That's not living, man," I'd say.
When Holden was born, Petersen called me and said, "Welcome to the third noose."
At which point he reminded me. "Wife. House. Kid. You aren't going anywhere now."
Only that thought doesn't terrify me like it used to. I mean, what else are you going to do at 41?
(I guess that pic would make Lucky Dog the rabbit and my son the creepy looking doll.)
And I like it in my house. It's safe, has everything I need, my family, my work, my gym and my fresh cuts of beef, seasoned and refrigerated for daily use on my indoor grill, and I don't need to be reminded of a world I don't want to be a part of because it depresses the shit out of me.
Had a kid come to the door last night. Kid? Grown man. Obviously not from this neighborhood, which made him pretty brave coming up here. From the inner-city down the hill, he was selling magazine subscriptions. He told me right off the bat that he couldn't accept donations, that he had to sell these magazines, which clearly nobody wanted, and any check had to be made out to the company he worked for, trying to make a shady situation seem a little less so.
"I have drug offenses," he told me, by way of introduction in a soft-spoken voice.
I remembered the strategy well. Throw yourself at the mercy of another who has more than you do. Stand down, don't appear to be a threat. Because you are powerless and all you can hope for is the mercy.
He showed me the paperwork, the company sponsoring him, and went on to explain that if he sells enough subscriptions, they pay for his college. Or part of it. He has a son at home. The number he had to sell to meet this goal was ridiculous, completely unattainable. Still, here this guy stood, on my doorstep, out in the cold and dark, as I'm firing my indoor BBQ to grill up a juicy cut of ribeye.
It wasn't quite a scam, this magazine thing, I've seen it before, but wasn't entirely on the up and up, either. If I were to buy some subscriptions, this guy might see some of the money, and I might receive some magazines I don't really want. Mostly the company sponsoring him are the ones getting paid. But it was all he had.
I could've just as easily told this guy I was in the middle of dinner, sorry, and closed the door. I'm sure he'd had plenty closed on him all night long. But it was the drug admission that caught my attention, in a "but for the grace of God" sort of moment. Except that when you stop to think about that expression, you are forced to concede who's on the other side of that equation, and where is his "grace"?
"How long you have been clean?" I asked.
Not a couple years. Twenty-five months. Because you count every month, every week, down to the day and hour sometimes.
And I wished I had something to say to him that might've made a real difference. I come across a lot of addicts and ex-addicts, and it rarely fazes me. You become sort of immune because most aren't stopping, and if they have stopped, most will start back up. But it's the ones like last night, the one's hanging by a thread, white knuckling it, lost, looking for something concrete to hold onto, that can get to me.
What could I do? But buy some magazines and wish him good luck?
Wait for the miracle to happen.
"Thanks," he said, as his closed up his book. "You're the first person who's bought something all night."
There's this awesome scene at the end of Drugstore Cowboy.
Sorry. All I could find was the fucking Spanish version. But I'm pretty sure this is the scene (and if anyone out there speaks Spanish, please tell me if I'm wrong), where Bob (Matt Dillon), after cleaning up and moving into a dumpy hotel with a crappy job, says to his ex, "Y'know, the straight life, for all its trappings, it ain't so bad"...
I really should go back and watch that movie again, I've quoted that line so many times, but I can't watch it (for obvious reasons).
I thought about that line again as this guy left my house to go door to door in a neighborhood that, for all intents and purposes, is a gated community, out in the cold, the wrong color to be, as I closed the door and went back inside to eat my steak.
It sorta depressed the fuck out of me. Then I found out somebody died, and that Smokin' Joe Frazier died, and my fantasy team sucked balls, and Justine was still pouting that I'd switched us to Direct TV and she'd lost all her programs she'd DVR'd. I guess sometimes you don't have to even leave your house to be reminded of the sadness. All I know is, for whatever reason, last night that fucking meat didn't taste quite so sweet.
Thanks, Mack, Sam, and Ernie. But I'm just not feeling it tonight, guys.