Coping And Comedy

One of the things which sustains me, keeps me going through even the most difficult day, is comedy. The most painful memories of my life are not earmarked by the actual event, but the comedy which somehow enabled me to get through the moment. When my father died six years ago I sat in the front row for the service (one of only 2 times in my life I’ve been in the front row for anything; the other being a Village People concert with my girlfriend). I wore his aviator sunglasses. My explanation was as a tribute to him; the reality was, just behind them I was a wreck. My uncle, who is a Lutheran minister, 75 and nearly blind from diabetes, gave the eulogy. I wanted to collapse in a heap of emotion but I couldn’t. I needed to hold it together for my mother’s sake. My own grief would have to wait for a more private moment. I turned to comedy. My friend of 40 years would get me past this.

I started glancing around the church. Nothing was remotely funny. Funeral directors must be notoriously unfunny, despite having the chance to take the best, most unique selfies in the universe. Funeral directors might be neck-and-neck with morticians in this category…I’ll get back to you. But I digress. The flowers were plentiful and ornate, with “Rest In Peace” on the front. Jesus this wasn’t going to be easy. Wasn’t there at least one mixup? One arrangement which mistakenly said “Get Well Soon” or “Congrats  Chad and Susan”? The waters of tears were rising and the dam was going to burst. I couldn’t, wouldn’t, let it happen. Then, as if sent by Almighty God Himself as a sign that I’d be okay, my uncle started speaking. He leaned on the podium, unable to stand for more than a minute or two without assistance. His eyesight was so bad he had everything written on big index cards, some a mere 3 or 4 words. The problem was, he really didn’t know my Dad very well (they saw each other maybe once a year for a few hours), so some of his statements were not only false, they were 180 degrees from my father’s situation and/or viewpoints. My uncle at one point seemed a little discombobulated, causing him to repeat phrases. He started shuffling through his cards to find his place. It was like watching a World Series Of Poker event where the dealer had the shakes. At one point I thought someone might go to the podium and help him off, but it didn’t happen. He was on his own. And then appeared…the humor.

My Dad had always hated anything religious. Long before it was popular, he saw the hypocrisy in organized religion. And he would have loathed this, probably more than I. In my mind I pictured him raising up and saying, “Ya know Son, right now I’d rather be in this box than where you are. Come here. I’ve got room for one more. Let me scoot over.” Behind the few tears which had managed to break through I had to stifle a smile. I could no longer hear my uncle, only the words I imagined coming from my Dad a few feet away. It had taken a while but my release valve finally worked. I managed the rest of the funeral fine, and held up in front of my mother.

You might assume my homeless state is occasionally, terrifying. You’d be right. There are times when I’ve prepared myself to sleep in the Camry by checking the evening weather forecast, knowing there was almost no way to reach my daily nut. Last night was just such a night. The rains of SoCal had slowed down the delivery business for three straight days. Logic says maybe the tips would go up as people saw appreciation for my braving the cold rain to get their pizzas and tacos to them hot (and dry). Didn’t happen. The tips stayed the same, but with fewer deliveries. I couldn’t zip from one spot to another. Each delivery seemed to take an extra 15 minutes and it might as well as have been raining directly on my wallet. I had a little cash in reserve built up and it disappeared quickly. I needed to get to $110 to pay for my room, gas, and food the next day (fucking weekend rates!), and my total after 9 hours was a sweet $75. It was 8:30 PM, and the busy hours were over. I could sense the Jaws Of Life opening my asshole for the fucking I was about to take. A little confusion of my own set in. I lost focus, and I knew I was done for this night. I was unsure of how to handle this so I could work on Saturday, hope it would be a typical weekend, and stay sheltered.

I couldn’t get my mind off this dilemma. I figured the best thing to do was log off the delivery app and head into Jack In The Box for my $4 dinner. I couldn’t see or think of anything remotely beneficial in the diner, so I hurriedly finished my burger and headed outside to sit in the car. I couldn’t waste gas running the engine so I just sat there and closed my eyes, similar to a meditative state. And it was getting pretty goddamned cold. So yes, I abandoned the warmth of a JITB to sit in a freezing car. Nothing was coming to me. The thought of gathering up my things (and not even ALL my things; only some of my things, others would have to be abandoned), tossing them in the car, and then not being able to work on a Saturday for fuck’s sake, was eating me up. I thought, “I’ve got to come up with something! Failure is not an option.”

BOOM! There was my release valve, and I pulled it harder than my cock when I first discovered masturbation. A smile crossed my face for the first time all night, and suddenly the money troubles disappeared, albeit temporarily. But at the very least I’d be able to sleep tonight, and perhaps a good night of sleep would bring a solution or two in the predawn hours of Saturday. To explain the smile:

I despise any movie, TV show, or speech which has “Failure is not an option” contained within. Failure is ALWAYS an option. It might be the suckiest of sucky options, even behind blowing an angry koala, but nonetheless…an option.

Picture a battle. At the bottom of a hill is the Sergeant who tells his troops, “Men, we gotta take that hill. On top of that hill are Commies and if we clear that hill, we can march all the way to the Capitol and end this damn war. But we’ve got no reserves coming up. It’s us, do or die. We MUST take that hill. Failure is NOT an option!

At the same moment on top of the hill is the Commie Commander talking to his troops. It’s in a foreign language so I’ll provide the translation. “Comrades, at the bottom of that hill is our sworn enemy. They do not want us to conquer the world, a world to which we are entitled. They are the ones who want to get to our beloved Capitol. We’re the only ones who can stop them. They will attack at dawn. We must hold this hill. Our countrymen, women, and children depends on us. Failure is NOT an option!

News flash…for one of these groups failure is not only an option but a certainty. I make no apologies to various screenwriters and speechwriters of the hack variety.

PS: I slept fine that night and awoke with a fresh mind, and fresh ideas.

A Homeless Encounter

I stood outside the Starbucks for a smoke. It was still dark. I made sure I was far enough away from the door so as not to offend anyone entering/exiting, although the customers numbered less than at a free screening of Battlefield Earth (Google it…). Still I’m of the polite homeless ilk. I saw a dude on a rickety bike, wobbling due to possessions barely balanced which weren’t meant for 2-wheeled travel. He was familiar. I’d seen him nearly every day at this same S’bux for forever.  Continue reading “A Homeless Encounter”

Moving Day, AKA My 28 Day Cycle

I’ve never had a girlfriend who didn’t have a complaint every 28 days, and it’s warranted. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to go through what ladies must endure, Tampax Pearl commercials notwithstanding. But I do have my own personal windmill to slay, and like a period, it’s every 28 days, without (for now) exception.

CA law states that if you occupy a hotel/motel room for more than 30 days you have established “residency”. Residency is a more vile word to an innkeeper than motherfucker, whore, and maybe even the n-word, for residency means if someone (translation: transient, homeless person etc.) doesn’t pay a bill, you can’t simply lock them out of the room, clear out their belongings, and rent to someone else. What must be done instead is the eviction process. In CA evictions can be long and costly because it involves serving of legal notices, appearances in court, and other money/time-consuming tasks. CA is very good at protecting the rights of renters. With the homeless? Meh, not so much. Continue reading “Moving Day, AKA My 28 Day Cycle”

Careful What You Wish For…

So Lyft had a rental car deal for people who wished to drive for them but didn’t have a qualifying car (meaning my busted-ass 2001 Camry). A $250 deposit and I would not only be cruising in Hyundai Elantra style, but fully insured for more than the CA minimums as well. Howie Mandel didn’t need to ask me twice…Deal!

I went to the orientation for new drivers and signed a few papers, and was handed the keys with my instructions, “Just walk around the parking lot clicking the alarm. When you hear it go off, that’s your car.” How could I possibly go wrong knowing this Rhodes Scholar finalist had my back? Continue reading “Careful What You Wish For…”

Buddy, Need A Lyft?

So I guess with this new company you can now get your car from a vending machine. Anyone else see problems coming? Guy standing at the bottom looking up, patiently waiting for his Prius and it hangs over the edge, stuck just like a real vending machine. He has to call 2 buddies over to rock the building back and forth to get the car down. Another guy is pissed because he pushed the button for a Range Rover and got a Kia. “Motherfucker! This always happens! Hey Trent, run me to the bank. I’m gonna get $20,000 in quarters and try it again.”

The food delivery had started a downward trend. Where once I could make $120 if I hustled my ass off, it had dwindled to about $80. I couldn’t bother thinking about the horrible hourly rate it came to; I only knew the numbers Continue reading “Buddy, Need A Lyft?”

A “Dashing” Type

When you’ve reached the point I’m at, it seems every path has a crossroad, in that there are no decisions without life-changing ramifications. Ever see one of those videos which closes the local news where 2 or 3 teens have set up seven million dominoes in an attempt to break a world record? Imagine standing right in the middle of that configuration. You want to get to the door but no matter where you step you’ll start a chain reaction. That is what the homeless deal with every day. If you’re trying to change for the better, you choose the step which will disrupt the fewest dominoes. Continue reading “A “Dashing” Type”

A Random Act Of Kindness

It’s January 3 and I’m still here! I managed to get through the holidays (actually Christmas, my birthday, and New Year’s Eve…aka the Trilogy Of Stress) without doing anything drastic. I don’t really get those thoughts, at least not often enough to be concerned. And I’m not much for resolutions at midnight. One, I’m already asleep and I’ll be damned if I’m going to drag my ass out of bed just to testify to a mirror that I’ll lose weight next year. Two, my resolution is ongoing; to get out of this revolving door of uncertainty. It’s like the worst game of Let’s Make A Deal ever. Wayne Brady allows me to choose a door and it’s always a Zonk. “Rick, behind door number 2 was a development deal with the OWN Network, worth $500,000! But let’s see what you chose instead…Aw it’s another week, MAYBE, in the Santa Ana Motor Lodge. Your stay includes dirty sheets, restless sleep until a police raid next door wakes you, and insects you didn’t even know existed. Thanks for playing.” Continue reading “A Random Act Of Kindness”

Homeless Hair

Question for God: How come pubes never get split ends?

Traditionally I have worn my hair closely cropped (think of a tennis ball after about 10-12 sets) or completely bald. Of course this wasn’t by choice. I believe it was Karma repaying me for succumbing to a most ridiculous fashion trend; getting a tight, white-guy perm in the early 80’s.

The perm: A decision so bad that only 1 blurred Polaroid exists from that horrible era. The Amish beard didn’t help, but boy could I raise a barn!

Continue reading “Homeless Hair”

Bumming Smokes And Other Nonsense

I smoke. It’s perhaps my only remaining vice. I don’t really count swearing as a vice, and who the fuck does anyway? I digress. Invariably I’m asked 6-10 times per day for a cigarette, and I always shake my head “no”. Cigs are up to $11/pack in CA, and if I’m giving one to every guy who asks, I’ll never make my daily nut, because I’m spending an extra $11 on a second pack of smokes.

Here’s what I noticed about people who are asked for a cigarette. They already know whether or not they have smokes on them, but still they’ll fumble around their pockets before finally answering, “Sorry, I don’t”. The re-enactment rivals anything done by Ben Affleck or anyone else, and it’s almost as if there was an Oscar at stake. “The Academy Award For Searching Your Pockets While Pretending To Look For A Cigarette You Know Goddamn Well You Aren’t Going To Give In A Dramatic Role goes to…..opens envelope and pauses…Jim!” Along those same lines I like the guy who is bumming the smoke who, after getting denied, challenges the other guy because he noticed a pocket wasn’t searched. “Oh yeah? Well how about THAT pocket!” I can’t see that move achieving the desired result. Ever. In all of history. Continue reading “Bumming Smokes And Other Nonsense”

On Birthdays

I stood in the parking lot. Overhead I saw seagulls and other scavengers flying in a circular motion. I immediately took out my phone and used it to check my pulse…just in case they knew something I didn’t.

Yes, today is my birthday. 365 days have passed and I didn’t die of causes natural, unnatural, or self-inflicted. Whee! To this homeless guy, birthdays, like any other celebratory day (i.e. Christmas, 4th Of July, etc.) are days I wish would pass quickly. I don’t really have anything to celebrate, and even if I did, no money to do so. I will work my ass off today in hopes I can make enough to keep my motel room another night. I can say this; New Year’s Eve won’t be spent with a drink (I don’t drink), sparklers, or a midnight kiss, because NYE is when hotels (and for some reason…motels) jack the shit out of their rates knowing many tourists visit LA/OC to ring in the new year. So a big shout-out and fuck you to Conrad and Maggie from Elko, NV for doing their small part to change my motel rate from $60 to $139. Love ya kids!

But I digress. Continue reading “On Birthdays”