- I Get A Bike
- Ben Lambie Arrives
- 30 Dollar "Fat" Tuesday
- Wednesday Night Off To Get Ben
- 20 Dollar First Night After Mardi Gras
Bobby and I were an hour late to meet him at the airport, after I had promised him (Ben) on my father's grave that I would be there for him, who is nervous around crowds of strangers.
I had made Bobby repeat at least once words like: "Don't worry; we'll scoot over there and pick him up."
"You're not going to be nodded out on methodone when I come to get you an hour before his flight lands; It's gonna be 10:30 at night, you're usually going to sleep around..."
"Don't worry, and, why are you going to show up a whole hour before his plane lands, when it takes like, less than 15 minutes to get to the airport. All we're gonna do is pull up to the right terminal's baggage claim area and pick him up; that's where everyone waits..."
So, I was feeling relatively confident that I would pass the test of whether or not I could actually manage to be in a specific place at a specific time.
So, I did.
I got busy working on a recording which was a song for Ben (it was actually the background music to one of my songs with the lyrics changed to things like: "Welcome to my place, Ben," etc.) and then I got a text message.
"I'm here," wrote Ben.
It was 9:40 PM.
Oh, shucks. The printout of Ben's flight confirmation sheet, that he had been meticulous enough to have mailed to me, so that there would be no confusion and I would have a reminder, had been based upon Eastern Standard Time. Bobby and I were already one hour late to pick up Ben at the airport, as per plans which had been solidified months ago with rearranged schedules, apartments cleaned from top to bottom, trucks filled with gas, etc.
I had felt all along that it was more than likely that I would screw it up; but had quelled my worries by telling myself that that would be the old Daniel, the one who knew Ben when I last saw him in 1993, who would most likely screw it up.
I'm all grown up now, and a Street Musician in New Orleans; I've come so far, learned so much. The old Daniel would have probably never made it there.
One of the routes might save us maybe 5 minutes.
So, Bobby took 5 minutes to stop at a gas station, to ask directions, so that we might save those same minutes in traveling time.
"Don't worry, we'll be there in no time...do you know how far you can go in 5 minutes, if you're on the highway?!"
We got there 11 minutes after Bobby said that at the corner of Tulane and Carrollton. Not bad, it would have been a 15 minute trip, had Bobby not stopped for directions.
Ben was understanding, after I had texted him about the time zone in the fine print, and he admitted to having made the same miscalculation.
We picked him up, whereupon Bobby began to drive us home as if we were in a great hurry.
He was missing turns, cussing, doing U-turns, cussing some more, screeching tires, changing lanes...
I thought it weird that, on the way to the airport, he was so nonplussed and in no hurry, but now it was as if we only had 15 minutes to get Ben back to the apartment.
Ben had a GPS application on his phone which was giving verbose instructions like, "right up there, just before that green fence, make a right... you just went past it, dumbass!" or such, but Bobby seemed to feel like he was being bossed around by the phone and wanted no part of it; he would find his own way; he grew up in Louisiana and has hunted most of the woods around here, and did so a long time before smartphones came into existence and...
"Hey, Bobby, we're not trying to get Ben back to the apartment as fast as possible, he has a whole week before he has to fly back..."
This had the effect of making Bobby slow down and start driving more normally. ..that's right, we were supposed to hurry to get to the airport to arrive on time, and then leisurely drive him back, pointing out things of interest, etc...I guess I got the two mixed up...
We got back to the apartment, which seemed to be to Ben's liking. He said that it was good that we had a gated parking lot. "No crackheads," was his comment upon that.
He took to Harold the cat right away, who was meowing to be let in for his midnight feeding.
Harold, in turn, seemed to sense the tension in Ben, after his ordeal of flying here, or smelled the alcohol on his breath which might have reminded him of some of the skeezers at Sacred Heart who try to pet him, when they are drunk, and try to feed him things like Vienna Sausage, and kept his distance.
I had just finished lamenting that the thing about cats that I don't like is their lack of loyalty to their owners and how Harold would jump on the couch and snuggle with whomever happened to be sitting there, as if just wanting a human to pet him, and not being particular at all.
"Do you have air conditioning?," asked the guy from Massachusetts, as we were entering the hallway.
"Air conditioning, this is the middle of winter...for us."
"Yeah, I guess so," said Ben.
We entered the apartment. Ben complemented me on my red carpeting, a patch of which had been brand new and rolled up in my closet for the past couple years, and which I had "rolled out" for him.
"Do you have anything to drink?" asked Ben, who had been drinking beer all day in and out of airports.
|A new red carpet, waiting to be dyed purple|
I opened a cabinet, glad to see that there was, at least a clean cup, and feeling suddenly like I had not taken the right steps to make my apartment hospitable. I should have maybe gotten a frozen pizza, I thought.
Ben took a sip off of the grape juice and then proceeded to drop the rest of it through the cabinet against the wall that looked like it had a glass top on it to him, but which doesn't. The grape juice exploded out of the cup and splattering the wall, and especially the brand new red carpet that I had rolled out for him.
|"Dude, I am so sorry, I thought there was a glass top!"|
Ben has aged in the past 25 years, like all of us, but in him the passage of time seemed to manifest itself in a certain clumsiness. His motions tend to be jerky, as if trying to keep pace with his thoughts. He has "A.D.D.," he said.
The A.D.D. is something that Tim, my caseworker (seen above in pencil sketch) also has. Ben has the same habit of poking at his phone during a conversation, as if the conversation alone wasn't enough to hold his attention. He will occasionally look up from his screen to interject "Oh, really?" or "That must have sucked!" or others, depending upon the context.
I had to test him at one point, by asking: "You didn't hear what I just said, right?"
But, he had actually heard what I said.
We sat on the couch and chatted for a while. Well, I chatted, Ben chatted and poked at the screen on his phone. "No, I'm just Googling stuff, like the restaurants you just mentioned.."
So, he was actually "in" the conversation and was Googling along with what I was saying.
He was tired, and is on a different schedule than I, so he retired to the bedroom, which he quickly converted into a living space by emptying out his copious suitcases.
But, not before going into the kitchen to grab one last beer out of the fridge.
I heard a crash.
"Did the shelf fall down?"
"No, I...you'll have to forgive me, I'm a little clumsy.." he yelled from the kitchen.
He was up bright and early and followed my suggestion to Betsy's Pancake House, which I had recommended based upon a conversation about it that I overheard on the trolley once. Someone was praising the place as being "a local secret," or something and said that a lot of cops and people who work at the courthouse eat breakfast there religiously.
People who like a lot of grease, I guess they are, because Ben came back with a thumbs down rating on the place, complaining that every customer in there besides himself had been "obese."
I would do better with my next recommendation of The Beachcorner, for a cheeseburger which was huge for 8 dollars.