Monday, June 13, 2011
He lost his job last month. It hit him like a sucker punch, especially because for more than a decade (he had tenure!) he worked hard at being a good teacher and really cared about his students. During the first few weeks he was barely functioning, unable to concentrate, and sleeping and drinking a lot.
He began to snap out of it about 10 days ago. Now every time I hear from him, he sounds more upbeat and forward-focused: looking for jobs, lunching with friends, surfing the net and sharing happy little bits with me. (In fact, he's the one who broke the Sir Paul news -- see below).
He has a heart as big as all outdoors and has never, ever shrunk from helping a friend. While I don't know the details, I suspect that some of those he's been there for in the past are rallying around him now. I also know his longtime lover has been there for him, too.
Paul McCartney to headline Wrigley Field July 31From the Chicago Tribune
Tickets will go on sale June 20 at tickets.com (prices were not yet available) for the rare date at the Cubs ballpark, which has seen only a handful of concerts in past summers by the Dave Matthews Band, Jimmy Buffett, the Police, Rascal Flatts, and Billy Joel and Elton John.
McCartney’s band will remain the same as it has for recent tours: keyboardist Paul "Wix" Wickens, guitarist Rusty Anderson, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., and guitarist Brian Ray.
Also announced were McCartney shows July 24 at Comerica Park in Detroit and Aug. 4 at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled blog post. What's weighing heavily on this Gal's mind this morning?
1) My best friend is incommunicado. He's already been on vacation with his family for a week now, and won't be back for another two days. He's even been gone for his 45th birthday (yesterday). I hope he's having fun, but I miss him. I really miss him. Little problems can grow up to be big problems if he's not available to keep me grounded.
2) It's not me, it's him. The guy who does my hair, that is. I have known him since we were in high school. About a year ago, he told me about a very scary incident with his daughter -- then a college freshman -- and a guy who attempted to drug her drink. I understood completely his terror about this horrible, horrible event, but when he used the "n" word to describe the young man in question, I stopped him. "He didn't try to do your daughter because he's black. You know that, right?" Yeah, yeah. I reiterated, "I don't accept that language in my presence, you know." Shrug. Over the past year, he has kept me waiting for my appointments. He simply overbooks his Saturdays. I don't like it, but when he apologizes I say, "You were closer to losing me with the n-word than with this." Saturday, when I was getting my haircut, he was going on and on about the landlord who will be renting a campus apartment to his daughter and three friends this fall. In the story, he mentioned the landlord's name was "Rosen." I tried to believe he wasn't going there. But then, just to make sure I understood, he said he was having his lawyer review the lease since "the landlord's a Jew and all." I literally hit him with the Newsweek in my lap. (Lucky for him I wasn't reading the latest edition of the Oprah magazine or he'd need a sling.) I told him again that I don't accept that kind of talk in my presence. Actually, what I said was, "I don't come here to listen to anti-Semitic shit." Instead of apologizing, he said, annoyed, "Will you let it go?" Then he kept trying to change the subject. He seems to think this "banter" between us is "fun." On the way out he kissed my cheek and said he'd see me next month.
Yes, he will. But should he? He does a good job on my hair and he's very affordable. I have known him for 35 years. My parents know his parents. He's the only one my nephew will allow to do his hair. He even made a point of watching my niece's graduation on the local cable access channel.
And he's a bigot. An unapologetic bigot. If a service provider like my dry cleaner spoke that way, I'd take my business elsewhere. This situation bothers me a great deal. I want to do the right thing, but I don't know what the right thing is.
3) But this doesn't bother me much at all. My oldest friend's oldest boy is scheduled to be released from a mental hospital tomorrow. The doctors have changed his meds and, after almost a week of surveillance, seem to feel he will no longer be a danger to himself or others.
I know very little about the specific incident that triggered this hospitalization, but I do know he's been admitted twice before and, once released, refuses ongoing outpatient treatment. My friend won't insist on it because, well, he's her son and she can't just throw him out in the street.
We have been through this when he insisted on dropping out of school, and then, left without the structure of classes, fell into a haze of cigarette and pot smoke, only emerging from his bedroom to punch holes in the doors and walls. Then, when he got down to less than 100 lbs. (he's nearly 6' tall), he was hospitalized for depression and anorexia, but upon his release decreed the outpatient therapies "stupid" and refused to go. Most recently, when he hit his sister and beat up his car, he admitted himself but didn't like being around really crazy people and left the moment he was legally able. Now that he's 21, he can pretty much do what he wants to. And all he wants to do is sit in his room, strum is guitar, chainsmoke cigarettes (dangerous with his chronic asthma), smoke pot, and refuse food. (I thought pot made you hungry. Oh, well ...)
I have known this boy his entire life and yet when it comes to this news I feel ... nothing. I appreciate how an ugly divorce and bad parenting shaped him and I am sorry about that. I realize the turmoil he is causing for his mother (my friend) and his kid sister (a troubled girl unduly influenced by his bad behavior). But I feel bad for my friend and her daughter, not for him.
And I feel bad about feeling nothing for him.
Is it any wonder I want to retreat into the sitcom world?