I have this new male friend who never seems to make any sense. He’s a strong willed person, quite cynnical really who likes to talk politics from a viewpoint so far from mine It’s a wonder we are even friends, what with the political climate and all. Sometimes, If I’m honest I zone out thankful for the lack of pressure to keep a conversation going.
Hes quite perplexing really. He harnesses this strong voice which echoes when he speaks. I laugh inside because it almost seems as if he is yelling even when he’s not. He’s a big guy. Maybe around six feet, wide bodied like all the other former bodybuilders that have let themselves go, he has a shaved head and a round face. My mom told me the first time she met him she thought he was a skinhead or something. The first time I met him I was sitting on the porch with a friend, he looked at us and said matter of factly “you guys are sitting too close and not social distancing”. I got up and stormed in the house and angerly announced, “Mom, your neighbor is an asshole!” and that is how the friendship began.
I spent a lot of time on the porch this summer with covid shutting everything down and my complete lack of work leaving me less than funded to do much more. I would watch his truck pull in and out of the driveway each time observing this guy, whom I thought was a total jerk though my parents assured me to the contrary, trying to figure him out.
This went on for a couple of weeks until some drunk guy ended up on my porch. No really, true story. I was getting out of my truck one day in the driveway of my parents house when i reached over to get my bag of burger king from the passenger seat I looked up to get out of the car and this man was standing at the window. Scary right, I didn’t feel threatened (I have worked psychiatric for 14 years I am not stranger to the odd nature of human beings) so I slowly opened the door. “Can I use your phone to call my mom” he slurred. I could immediately tell this man was off and most assuredly drunk evidenced by the strong stench of alcohol on his breath. He was young probably early to mid 30s. Good looking and well built yet young and pitiful at the same time.
“sure” I said cautiously as I handed him my brand new iPhone. He stood there, just looking at the phone lost. I had seen this behavior before so I took the phone from him and asked, “what is your moms phone number?” he replied back with 12 numbers and I knew this was going no where. He started to say that he was hungry. I escorted him to the porch and offered him my whopper sandwich figuring I could easily go out and get another, it was apparent he was in no condition to drive or operate a stove. I went into the house and told my dad to come sit on the porch with me as I called the police station to check out the situation. We sat on the porch talking and I would learn his name is Bob (how appropriate) and he lives three doors down. He proceeded to tell me his wife left him and that I would be a perfect wife. I knew he was really messed up when he called me beautiful as this was at the point where I was almost completely bald from a medical issue. The police drove up and knew his name without me telling them. He refused to go with the police to his home, and me, knowing that he had already proposed knew just want to do to get him to comply, “if I walk with you will you go home Bob?” “yes”. So there I was walking my drunk future husband home with the police after knowing him for oh, maybe, 10 minutes.
Bob went home. the police left. not 15 minutes later I hear a knock at my door and opened it to see my drunk fiance Bob still saying he was hungry. He asked for money to get food and for fear of him trying to drive I said “Go home bob Ill bring you food”. He stumbled off the porch and swayed home as I ran to the kitchen and began to make a gourmet salami sandwich. I grabbed the sandwich and a bottle of water and walked it three houses down where I found him sitting on the porch. “Will you sit with me while I eat?” he asked. So I stood back, not knowing if he had a tendency to get aggressive and spoke to him for a while before heading back home. There would be many more visits from Bob and his level of inebriation was always increasing. There were multiple calls to police from various neighbors about him sitting on their porches uninvited. At one point I found him on my porch urinating on himself. He kept coming back over and over. Finally, my parents had to leave but were nervous to leave me home alone with this drunk guy that kept coming back. I walked outside to find them talking to the bald asshole neighbor guy and giving him my phone number! WHAT! I thought.
“We are giving him your number incase you need help with Bob” I looked at this guy and in a joking manner he said “this is your parents back door way of setting us up”. Noting that both he and I were both single at this point I found it mildly humorous as there was no way I would ever even talk to a man like him. I mean. after all, at this point I still think he’s an asshole.
“bob is on his way to your house” the boy next door texted. I looked outside and found the asshole watching the drunk guy. I walked outside to find the asshole leaning on his truck in the drive way as i yelled to bob to “GO HOME”. There would be many more visits from bob and many more texts from the asshole next door. After about the third phone call I began to realize that maybe he wasn’t an asshole after all.
After three days of visits from bob the ambulance finally took him away. The next night my mom and I were on the porch talking when the boy next door backed in his truck and began unloading his dirt bikes with his kid. Mid task I heard his booming voice say, “hey sue, I’m hungry, go make me a sandwich”. I died laughing. He said. “if you keep feeding him he will keep coming back you know, if he comes back the kitchen is closed” I said “hey man, Bob and I had a shared moment over psychosis and salamai”.
Since this time we have become close friends. He has been showing me the ropes of single life and how to navigate the many facets of finances and car repairs. Today, he and I went to test drive some new cars and as we drove we talked and he said something to me that made me proud. As hard as he is, as disconnected as he seems he said “Theres something amazing about how, even after all you have been through, you arent angry or cynnical. You are still warm and kind.” “well, i have a lot to be thankful for and I promised myself at the start of all of this I would not live life angry.” His saying this to me was validation that I had succeded in this task and I couldnt stop smiling inside.
On our way home this afternoon he said. “why don’t you look into driving a truck?” “Well, I figure I will just leave the big trucks to the men. I could never drive a truck like that its too big”. At this, he pulled over in a parking lot and began to get out of his brand new F150. “what are you doing?!” I said, “get out” he said “you are driving us home”. I climbed up in that big truck and adjusted the seat way forward, looked at him and said, “I don’t want to wreck your truck” his reply was so unexpected “I have full coverage” I looked at him perplexed and he said “look, in the last five years I have been married, cheated on, divorced, had a stroke, lost my dad and my sister had a brain tumor. I’m much older than you, if its one thing I have learned its to live life. I have full coverage now go!” I did it, I drove that huge truck as my mind swirled. He’s right. Life is meant to be lived. It was then that I realized that he isn’t an asshole, he’s hurting and so am I. We are both trying to find our way. I think in some way him taking me under his wing is not only helping me heal but its helping him too.
His name in my phone is now “the boy next door” and even though our friendship looks strange it makes sense in a nonsensical sort of way. I lost a lot of, what I thought were close friends, during my divorce this year, It feels good to be in like minded company. Someone else just as idiosyncratic in their thinking as I. I think I like this asshole. All thanks to the the drunk guy three doors down and that salami sandwich.