Saturday, January 17, 2015

My old friend the Palm Springsian

I have a couple of facebook friends that I have known for 50 years or there abouts. Bill contacted me and said he was coming to town to visit and meet Rhonda for dinner. Figured he’d look me up too.

Briefly the back story: The grade school we went to was about four blocks from where we each lived. Bill was my best friend back then he lived here . Rhonda and her little sister lived on the corner of Bill’s street. . Our Jr High (now a middle school) was here . I recall 1971 as the year I graduated from there. I lived a few blocks away The old house looks great on Google maps. When we lived there it was all white with a white rock roof. What was the deal with those rock rooves? The A&W that my folks owned/operated and what brought us to Bakersfield in 1964 was here. . I was saying Pastrami King lived there now in the picture it’s Frosty King. For years after my folks sold it it was Alex T’s & W. Alex Theodor was patriarch of the greek family that owned it. I later worked with his daughter at the chiropractic office. Our nemesis was the fast food joint two doors down called Sno-White. hasn’t been sno-white for a couple of decades. Nemesis or not I always liked the roof.
But I digress.

The next day, yesterday, I got a text to meet them at Black Angus. I was having one of my not so nice couple of days of feeling kind of awful where thoughts come slowly. Life is going on around me and my reactions are just basic. I kept wanting to feel anxious about trying to describe the sad nature of my existance of late I also kept wanting to sleep.

I got there to find the parking lot full and the place was packed. I was early so found a spot to plop down my seat cushion and sit watching the torsos of the other people waiting that didn’t find a seat in the lobby. It wasn't till then that It occurred to me that I didn't really know what they look like these days. The profile pictures on facebook are tiny. Okay so they turned out to be gray haired old timers that might be the grandparents of the kids I knew. Rhonda was there first, she was the one that made the reservation. We were shown to a table. I couple of minutes later Rhonda’s sister Sandy arrived. I had a vague memory of being the bratty little sister. Now she’s over 50 too. Bill came all the way from Palm Springs and arrived just after Sandy.

We ate a good dinner, Rhonda picked up the tab, and we talked for hours. I mostly listened. Partially because I wasn't feeling right but also because I spend so much time by myself it’s difficult to get out of my head and into the flow of a conversation. They would go on for a while and I would interject a small story. The three of them had some early twenties adventures in partying in and around San Pedro where Bill lived after his family moved away. I spent most of years 15 through 27 some version of drunk and/or stoned. I can usually pull up a story or 2 but was content to listen. I tried to follow the places and things they did. Picturing the young versions of them doing those things. The stories of how all three had corvettes was interesting. On the one hand it makes perfect sense. The natural progression from who I knew back then. Like a lot of people I have many car stories too. The Datsun, the Volvo, The Thing, the Ranchero, the Town car, the piece of shit Ford Ranger (3 steering pumps and 2 alternators, I got it new and only had it for 3 years) to name a few. It wasn't a sports car or a chick magnet but I figured the old Crown Vic Police Interceptor would fit in. Never felt the moment and didn't tell that story.

Kind of funny how every so often the conversation would come back around to the aches and pains and inconveniences of getting older.

Bill’s story from what I gather is that he has retired after 34 years with the postal service. Lives in a suburb or community near Palm Springs. He misses the people on his route. Some where rich and famous what with it being Palm Springs and all. That made sense too he is a story teller. Drinking adventures in Mexico and here and there. Possibly years past. More current were the stories of house parties and the thrift store cast-offs of the deceased Palm Springsians. Sounds like he has a nice home with a pool and a dog. No mention of wives or children. To be fair I didn't offer my details either. In the minds of some people this somehow translates to “He’s gay”. I guess it’s better than “He’s asexual”. Neither of which are true in my case. What with the stream of endorphins any aspect of womankind sends through whole being, lifting me off the ground, you’d think people’s gaydar would register hetero from miles away. Doesn't always happen that way. Once I figure out my own “it’s complicated” story perhaps we can trade stories. Just getting a girlfriend might be easier. Got close last month, I think.

As I recall Rhonda was a tomboy. There were several of us that did kid things together. She’s newly widowed after 25 or so years of marriage now. Sold the big family home that also contained the family business. Just moved into a very modest place near the center of town. Except for 4 bedrooms instead of 3 and not being on a slab her place is laid out similarly to mine. She’s fixing it up to suit her needs and looks like she’ll be quite cozy. I am drawing a blank about if she has children. If so they must live far away or something. Here sister has 2 kids just grown, lives in the north west of town and of the 4 of us, is the one with a job.

I’m listing off what I remember and some stream of consciousness like a kind of police procedural testimony. The whole brain too foggy to think thing happens less often lately but when it does I kind of panic. No telling how it limits me and interferes with my life having a happy next chapter. Thing is I have no way of knowing what I misremember or have already forgotten.

So anyway I wasn't a total zombie at dinner. I told some fun stories too. Finally living long enough to see these old friends as living history is terribly fascinating and engaging. The different paths taken and all that.