I’ve written about my friend Mike before on this site, and he’s on the Picture page of my blog. Mike has a steady alcohol buzz throughout the day, yet rarely gets really hammered (as opposed to me, a binger). His disability and (sold) food stamp money will last him about two weeks. When it runs out, he won’t panhandle, instead walking around and checking the parking meters for errant change.
He’s a slight fellow, but whatever toughness the Marines instilled in him over 30 years ago must have stuck. He was hit by a car several months ago with enough force to throw him 10-15 feet, but he was largely unscathed.
Even when we’re both sober, our conversations are punctuated with very frequent laughter. He’s a cavalier jokester like me. Here’s a conversation we had this morning, while he awaited the opening of Rite Aid (which amazingly sells alcohol in Maryland):
He greets me with a “What’s up, bud?”
“You got the paper, of course.”
“Yep, and I always make sure you’re not around so you don’t know which machine’s broken. I don’t want you beating me to the punch.”
“Oh, I think I know where you go, but it’s easier to just meet you here and read about the world in five minutes while you’re still on one stupid article in the Sports section.”
“You’ll be excited about today’s. Tennis gets a whole paragraph! Nadal beat Is-ner. Serena lost.”
“I predicted both.”
I read briskly, in part because I’m somewhat of speed reader and big picture guy. Also, The Baltimore Sun is so shallow that we’ve joked before that even when you get a free one, you still feel ripped off. My main concern is that I know that he intends to be at the door of Rite Aid at 6:59. As I’m on the last page, his time to depart has arrived.
“Alright, Bud. Fork it over.”
“Seriously, you can’t wait three minutes until I finish? They’re not gonna’ run out of your Nasty Ice.”
“I can’t take that chance. You know how many other drunks will be in line?!”
“But man, I’m almost done with this article about Egypt. I want to see if it has a happy ending.”
“I’m pretty sure it DOESN’T!”
“You could have at least given me a Spoiler Alert there.”
“You know Rite Aid worries about me if they don’t see me by 7:05. I can’t screw up their beer order.”
“Shit, you’ve probably got that [mean] old lady listed as your next of kin.”
“Yep. Not my sister, not the ex, not my boys. ‘In case of emergency, notify Rite Aid’.”
“That cranky bitch’ll be identifying you at a morgue some day. ‘Yeah, that’s Mitch. Good riddance; son of a bitch always tried to pay with seven pennies’.” (Their policy is five or fewer.)
“Son of a bitch? You leave my mom out of this! You’d be a bitch if I was your son too!”
“Suicide by the time you were five. Hopefully, you’d have become a lucky orphan like Annie. I could see you in a red dress with a red wig. Odd look for a Mexican, though.”
He has an ongoing gripe that he’s always mistaken as at least part Mexican.
“Cross-dressing is your area, you goddamn Unitarian. Now you’re eating into my time with my real best friend, and you haven’t made any progress on that article.”
“Alright, man. Probably see you tomorrow. I know it’s 7 o’clock and you wanna’ rock; wanna’ get a belly full of beer.”
“Quoting Elton John. That’s exactly what I was talking about with the Unitarian joke. Take it easy, Dude.”
We will surely repeat the routine tomorrow. Our jokes will be fresh, yet most likely follow the pattern of good-natured ribbing.
Egypt will also probably still be fucked up.