Monday, September 23, 2019

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned

     "Oh? What went wrong?"

"I yelled at a young woman today." 

     "I saw that, Son. No problem. You were doing the Lord's work." 



"Oh. Okay." 

Beautiful day today. The kind of day in which you wish all days could be. Stepping outside my apartment building to walk 2.5 blocks and back took some consideration. I'll risk it. This will be a test. 

Immediately a very long line has formed across the street. As I stand there, people walking past me on my side are wearing the full range of coverage, light jackets, long sleeves and short sleeves. I'm in the shade. It's a bit cool with a breeze. Judging the right clothes is a bit tricky and the weather can change on a dime. Judging by what other people are wearing is no help at all. 

This line continues for at least 4x the length shown at least to the end of the block. I have no idea what's going on over there. A music concert presumably.

My short-sleeve shirt will do. 

I walk south to Broadway Market where I have two delightful conversations with two different women. Both have excellent information they impart. Both are gracious and helpful lovely and kind. 

Along the way there and back I note the trash strewn about that will all be gone tomorrow. There is evidence of carelessness, of drinking, of partying and of living on the street. Contrasting the two women I also encountered are two men outside on the street. One down on his luck and engaging the people passing, rushing into a quick story possibly made up. Another scrawny male with some kind of disorder, filthy and dressed poorly and whispering to himself in angry violent tones. Every one must walk past him uncomfortably close. 

A third large black young male admonishes me in passing, "be careful." But I'm not sure about what.

Within another block I'm at home. 

No pain in the usual places. No elevated heartbeat. No exhaustion. No aching starved muscles. No discomfort at all. Things are feeling much better than they had just a few weeks ago. Those two new tiny pills really do work. It seems.

I should have eaten the sandwich at Broadway Market. Then the lettuce would be crisp on the sandwich and the fries would have been fresh. But for some reason I wanted to get out of there and back onto the street and back home. I felt no desire to mingle. 


Mind, every single person I speak to around here is receptive and pleasant. So it's not them. It's me. From the very start before going in. A guy pulls up and parks at a meter as I approach him and his car, while another car pulls up right beside me as I walk forward and it parks at another meter behind him. He looks back at her. They both get out and examine their meters. 

"It's free on Sunday."

     "Oh. Gee. Thanks." 

They both continue reading the meter to confirm it. Wisely. Good. Because I could be wrong.

Gracious throughout and to the end. 

"Can I go out this side door?" 

     "Yes, of course." 

Good. That means I don't have to walk the full length back to the front then back again to this spot. Except on the outside.

But now back home I decide I can use a 12-pack of Coca Cola. My little-old-man shopping cart is filled with boxes. I could throw them away downstairs directly into the large garbage bins then use the cart for the 12-pack instead of using my backpack. 

This is a handy little thing for apartment life. Women have remarked on it so I bought them as gifts and they really do work out for a lot more things than moving groceries from the car to the apartment. 

Now to the young woman I yelled at.

Even the guy in the bottle shop knows me and treats me with inordinate respect. All the people down there are respectful beyond the call of duty. Each one knows me and each one treats me like somebody special. It's awesome! I do not understand why. 

Upon approaching the back door to my apartment I notice activity in the shadows but with my sunglasses on I cannot see them until I am out of the sun and under the covering where cars are parked. Then I see a young driver and a young woman getting out of a car. They're talking to each other.

I open the back service door with a key and look back to the car. I can see a woman approaching more clearly. She is having some kind of difficulty. She is a gorgeous young Latina in a black one-piece bathing suit. Her fingernails are long and meticulously painted bright teal blue. Her skin is smooth and unblemished. Her face is without makeup and perfectly clear. Her hair is long and well kept, trimmed carefully and thick, young, vibrant and healthy. I open the door and invite her through.

She fumbles ridiculously trying to open the opposite door. It's a double door and only one side opens. She finally fumbles through as I hold open the door. Inside she spins and fumbles awkwardly toward the elevator button. She is drunk. And I am amazed she can stay standing without holding onto the walls. Each of her steps is automatic to correct balance thrown off. Each correction requires another correction.

She is a marvel of balance. She is a human top that will not fall. 

Handicapped by alcohol. 

Imagine having brilliant balance and damaging it purposefully so that ordinary walking becomes more like a roller coaster ride combined with spinning tea-cup ride combined with bumper cars ride. Yet she stayed upright. Her internal gyroscope never failed her. Even though she damaged it. I am filled with wonder observing her. Her body is a true marvel in overcoming all she had done to destroy it. 

Such is childhood. Such is experimentation in altered consciousness. 

Observing her makes me think about God, about evolution, about millions of years in fashioning a human body so profoundly resilient that it can withstand such self-abuse and still perform and a brain that can still function sufficiently to get oneself home. Even manage an elevator with its array of confounding buttons and the disorienting changing G-forces. 

She is spinning inside a box that is moving and her body is automatically correcting even though it's been damaged.  

I'd have done better for myself had I closed the door behind me and left her outside. She'd still be out there trying to get in. She had no purse. No keys. Just slippers and her one-piece bathing suit. And a cell phone. She dropped her cell phone on the elevator floor. 

And it still worked too. 

She pushed "1" and that kept the door open. I pushed "5" for my floor so that button was lit. She pushed "7" for her floor. Then she pushed "3" and that will delay both of us. Now that whole row of lights is lit. She pushed "1" again so the door opened again. Finally the door closed and we moved. 

She held onto my cart and looked straight down into it examining its contents. 

It held a 12-pack of Coca-Colas and a bag of potato chips. 

She has the look of a drunk who is about to throw up. 

But she also needs help with her balance. 

The door opens on floor 3. But neither of us live on floor 3.

She pushes the buttons again. She pushes "5" already lit, she pushes "7" already lit. She pushes "1" again. 


I said loudly and sharply as speaking to a misbehaving child.

     "They were ... I'm trying to ... I was ..." 

The door opens on my floor. 

Gorgeous. Self-abused. Girlish and a bit zaftig. Ripe. For the picking. Pure and clean. Glowing, in fact.  Fresh as a daisy but drunk. Good luck stumbling down the right hallway and reaching the right door. Her adventure is only half done. Good luck someone is already inside waiting because she doesn't have a key. And I cannot help but think who would drop her off in such a condition. I assumed the driver was a guy. But a guy wouldn't do this. That driver must have been another woman. And too drunk herself to know any better.

And I pray to God, how do you even put up with us?

And he answers, well, that's life. In your ways you see to yourselves. 


ricpic said...

You could write a whole Proustian novel about going out to get food and an elevator encounter....oh, you just did.

ampersand said...

I was expecting it to end with you chained to the bed and your wallet, clothes, cart and possibly a kidney missing.