Twenty-something cans and a couple of bottles. I loaded them into a garbage bag and lugged it over to the Big Lots on Vine Street in the rain. For light beer, it was pretty heavy.
A little backstory:
You know the asshole who asks you to keep it down? That’s me. I’ll admit it. I am the party-ruining square who values his sleep, the guy who isn’t defined by how much alcohol he can drink or how much pussy he can get.
Four months ago I thought I was moving into an apartment. I moved into a freshmen dorm. A fucking hotel for my roommate’s friends to come and go as they please. I’m paying rent and they’re stumbling in at two in the morning, louder than a deaf couple fucking. They smoke inside, leave cans and wrappers strewn about, and even remain once my roommate leaves. My concerns and frustrations have been met with the obligatory “I’m sorry’s”, but shit always starts back up again, usually within days.
My roommate and his friends treat life like an extension of college, guys who live the beer commercial guy-image because that’s what they think cool is. These are the guys who think their dicks are going to fall off if they don’t go out and get shitfaced every night. The guys who show up at a party and complain about the lack of “chicks”, even though it doesn’t matter because none of them have the balls to approach a girl in the first place. But that’s cool because real men don’t need chicks to bring them down and cut into guy time. “Remember when” stories of almost-hook ups are a lot more fun anyway. Pass the beer. Go Steelers.
What’s most annoying is when your food disappears. Something missing here and there. Now I don’t mind sharing, but if you’re going to shack your friends up without even checking to see if I mind, at least have the courtesy to ask if you can dig into my shit. To my roommate’s credit, missing items have been replaced, but that’s not where the damage lies. The damage lies in not asking. The damage lies in taking.
If I’m gone, don’t assume it’s okay to toss out the milk I was saving to make room for your beer. Because then your beer might disappear and go to a homeless man who really appreciates the less-filling, great taste.
I left a note on the table last night before I went to bed:
It should read “Who drank the rest of my milk?” I don’t know why a giant piece has been torn off. Probably to play drunken tic-tac-toe.
This morning, there was an answer on the flip-side:
The part of the note that really irks me is the “sorry, no, 3!” To me, this translates to, “sorry, you are a retarded fucking child!” Like I was too busy jerking off to Sesame Street to realize that my milk was bad. And it wasn’t. I know when milk is spoiled. I drink a shitload of it. Nobody knows my milk better than me. My milk was fucking good. In fact I overpaid for it at a convenience store two days ago on my way back from the airport ($4.99 for a half gallon). I was hoping it would get me through until Saturday, but no dice.
Note to everyone: the sell-by date is not the go-bad date.
But you know what is spoiled? The week-old gallons of 2% that belong to the professional stoner/aspiring musician who lives in the other room. Those were left in the fridge. By the way, the stoner won’t be paying me the $100 he owes me for living on the couch last month. He’s too busy collecting worker’s comp and going fishing with his pet snake.
Here is all of my roommate’s beer:
Here it is in a garbage bag:
Homeless guys are like house parties. You think you know where they are until you go looking for them. I could not find a homeless guy for shit this morning. The one who lives on the corner by the park was nowhere to be seen. Out collecting cans probably. If only he’d stayed put. There was one asleep outside by the laundry room – the guy who usually wakes me up with his dumpster diving, I think – but when I approached him he said he didn’t like beer. There was fear on his face though, like he thought I was an undercover officer with the LAPD’s ABDB Unit (Arrest Beer Drinking Bums). I told him it was cool and to go back to sleep. I wasn’t going to rat him out.
I thought about searching for the dreadlocked homeless guy who wanders up and down Cahuenga mumbling to himself and smelling like a fat kid’s wet towel, but decided against it because he looks younger, and I think younger homeless guys are more violence-prone. Somebody should do a study on that.
Big Lots was the next logical step. There’s an awning by the back entrance that the homeless are always camped out under. They lay out their cardboard sheets and pass out, bundled up in their sleeping bags and old blankets. I’ve seen ten lined up in a row before.
But this morning there were none. Just a lone woman in a knit cap and a couple of shopping carts. I trudged up to her with the garbage bag.
“Do you like beer?”
“No. I don’t drink.”
“You have any friends that do?”
She pointed to the main entrance. James was asking for change. I hung around for a moment and waited for him to come over.
“What’s up, man?”
“You like beer?”
I opened the bag. James eyes lit up like the last roach.
“My roommate threw away my milk so I took all of his beer. You can have it. It’s not poisoned or anything.”
I nodded. James grinned a big, piano-key grin. He stretched open his arms and gave me a giant hug. I hugged him back. He smelled good. No stench at all. When I remarked on his cleanliness he told me he’d only been homeless for a week (“fresh homeless”) – kicked out by his bi-polar girlfriend. He said if he could go back and change things he wouldn’t give his love to anyone. That way people couldn’t keep putting a foot up his ass.
We cracked open a beer and spoke for a while, airing our grievances and taking pictures.
I wish I had enough money to adopt James. Really. Like the Waitzkin family does with Laurence Fishburne in Searching for Bobby Fischer. He is that nice, that genuine of a guy. Yeah, it could have been all the free alcohol, but I feel like it transcended the hops and empty calories. I feel like we made a connection – two guys who had been wronged who were trying to make things right. I told James not to worry, that things would look up. After all, he’s only been homeless for a week and he already has a shopping cart and a roof. That’s pretty fucking good.
James shared his take on my situation:
“See, it’s like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. And Daffy Duck. You know who they are?”
“Elmer Fudd was always chasing Bugs Bunny with the gun, and Daffy Duck was chasing him too. And Bugs Bunny was always hunted, but sometimes he got that gun, and then that Daffy Duck… it was all bad for him.”
“He got his beak shot off.”
“His beak got shot off. Flipped right round on the back of his head.”
I probably won’t see James again, but his next words will never leave me:
“It ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun.”