Monday, October 13, 2014

Leslie Vitalone

  • Not Drinking; Day 4
  • Mark From Australia
  • 48 Dollar Sunday
While I was blogging yesterday, my phone rang.
It was Leslie Thompson. He was not far away, on Canal Street.
He wanted to hang out; and said that he had money and weed. He offered to buy me a beer.
David The Water Jug Player (right)
"I'm not drinking," I said.
I don't know why I didn't evade him, but...
We hung out for a while, with him offering repeatedly to buy me beer.
At one point, he said: "Come on, let me buy you another beer," when I hadn't even had one.
He had no idea about where to go, nor what to do, outside of hanging around The Unique Grocery and patronizing it.
I led him in the direction of where televisions were located, which would be visible from the sidewalk, and which would have football games on them.
Really Intoxicated
By the time we were in front of a bar near the corner of Chartres and Decatur Streets, he was in his "really?" stage of intoxication.
"Dallas is going to try a field goal."
"Really?"
"It's right there on the TV, Leslie. If they make it, the game will be over; and I'll probably start heading to my spot to play; it's going to be nightfall soon."
"Really?"
"Yeah, Leslie, didn't you notice that the big flaming ball of hydrogen went below the horizon?"
"Really? Er, I mean....hey, let's get drunk; I've got money, and I have weed. Let's party!!!"
"I'm not drinking, Leslie."
"Well, we could...what should I do?"
Etc.

I needed new batteries, and so I headed (led him) in the direction of Sydneys beer and wine; which is also near my playing spot.
The Wrong Currency
Leslie was at a total loss for what to say and do.
It was like he wanted to purchase my company using alcohol as the currency; but I didn't take that kind of money.
I decided to separate from him at about 8 p.m., after the Sunday Night Football game had kicked off.
He was hard to shake. He seemed lonely and in need of a friend to hang out with; and frustrated that he couldn't buy me beer.
I went into the store to get my batteries.
While in there, I bought a V-8 drink. When I put it on the counter, I said to the girl working there: "If he offers to buy me a beer 38 times, I might take him up on it; and we're getting close to that number."
The staff at Sydneys are amongst those who have seen a positive change in me, the times that I have been sober. One of them, Jason, upon seeing me with Leslie, shook his head as if to intimate: "I guess Daniel has totally fallen off the wagon again..."
When I came out, Leslie was in the face of a young man who was leaning against the front of the store. He had handed the guy one of the beers from his bag of them, and was demanding that the guy open it and drink it. He must have thought he was being humorous.
I couldn't help thinking that he was venting his frustrations with me upon the young man.
There is a psychological term for that, which escapes me (transferring? projecting?) .
A beer; really?!?

I sneaked by them, Leslie never seeing me...really? (I had already told him several times that it was time for us to break off, so I could go and play).
The Poor Guy
He probably went on to offer the young guy beer after beer and anything that his (Leslies) money could buy, to procure his companionship.
Then, the nasty drunk probably reared its head, and the head had Leslies face on it.
He would start to denigrate women walking past: "Look at that slut, she's going to (sleep with) 5 black guys tonight, for crack!" and things like that.
Then, he would become suddenly sullen and brooding and, out of that state of mind, would turn to the guy and say something like: "You know, you're starting to get on my nerves!"
To which the guy might say something like: "Sorry about that, I guess I will be going," whereupon Leslie would block his path, because he wasn't quite finished with him, then add something like: "You're the biggest loser I've ever met; you're a joke...yeah, that's right!"
The poor guy.
48 Dollar Night
 
I came around the corner onto Bourbon and espied two figures sitting upon Lillys stoop.
They were two women, having a conversation and staring at their respective phone screens.
I was setting up my stuff when one asked: "Are we in your way?"
"No, I still have to change the batteries in my light and tune up and everything."
I did so, and started to play, when I noticed one of them smiling at my tiposaurus and its sign.
She took a picture of it and threw me what turned out to be 5 one dollar bills.
Mark From Australia
Then, along came a guy who asked if he could play my guitar.
I hesitated, then asked: "Will you tip me?"
He produced 5 dollars, whereupon I handed him the Takamine, saying "At least I can afford a new set of strings now, if you break them all."
"Oh, I won't break any," he said, and then proceeded to play some pretty good Travis picking style stuff.
He was from Australia, was traveling, and hadn't wanted to check his own guitar into airports along the way.
He asked me if I could get any weed.
I told him that I only had a half a joint (which Leslie had given me).
The Skeeze Is On
Soon, a skeezer was sitting on the other side of him, butting in on the conversation.
A lot of skeezers can't stand to see someone else getting money out of a tourist, and they can't sit still for it, either.
It is common to see a skeezer or two, on the occasion of a tourist handing money to another skeezer, converge upon that tourist saying: "Can I have one (dollar) too?" (...and, what about me? and me? and me? me too!!).
The skeezer probably thought: "He just gave guitar man 5 dollars; let me investigate this possible opportunity..."
20 Dollar Skeezing Lesson
Mark, as that was his name, from Australia, then told the skeezer that he would give him 20 dollars if the skeezer would find him some weed. "All I want is to smoke a joint, and you can keep the rest."
Since all he wanted to do was smoke a joint, I offered him the roach which Leslie had given me, and said: "You can have this for 5 dollars."
I guess he felt like he already had made a deal with the skeezer, who was soon walking away with a crisp 20 dollar bill, after leaving his hat as collateral; the kind of hat that one can snap up at the homeless shelter "clothing bank," for free.
I told Mark that I had been trying to spare him the anxiety of putting his money in jeopardy, and of having to wait for the guy to come back with weed. "How long do you wait, how much time do you waste, before you conclude that he isn't coming back?" I asked.
"20 minutes," said Mark.
I told him that I doubted that the skeezer was going to come back. "There are probably 20 hats like that in the clothing room at the mission; and, all he has to do is wait a couple days and you will be 3,000 miles away, with the kangaroos. Even if you do run into him, he will ask 'Why didn't you wait for me, I found some killer weed, but when I got back you were gone!"
Mark didn't care. "I just consider it a lesson learned; a cheap lesson."
We talked for about 20 minutes. Mark turned out to be a software engineer, and 20 dollars is a pittance to him.
"I guess he really isn't coming back," he said.
I fired up the half joint, and passed it to him.
After we smoked, he handed me 20 dollars, saying: "I gave him 20 dollars for weed, but you're the one who wound up having it so, here!"
The Funky Pirate
We had an interesting conversation, after which he invited me to go to one of the bars on Bourbon Street for a drink. "I'll buy you a Red Bull, or something" (since I had told him that I was on my 4th day without alcohol).
We did so, but not before running into yet another skeezer, who must have thought that I had found myself a sucker, and couldn't restrain himself from trying his (outstretched) hand at skeezing the guy.
Mark pulled out an Australian 20 dollar bill, telling the guy that he would have to exchange it at a bank, for U.S. currency. "Try to rip it, go ahead!" (Australian bills are made of a super-strong plastic).
The skeezer handed it back to him: "I don't want this shit..."
We wound up at The Funky Pirate, where a half ass band was playing. Mark liked the fact that the bassist was playing a bass ukelele. The Funky Pirate is where I once met a couple who were headed back to Atlanta, Georgia, and who offered me a ride there; but then reneged after I ran into them the next day and didn't recognize them.
Mark gave me an Australian 10 dollar bill in the bar, showing me that there was an interesting poem on the bill, written by a famous poet ("banjo" Patterson) but that one needed a magnifying glass to read it.
I will be able to get 9 dollarsand change for it tomorrow; when the banks are open.
He wound up giving me another 10 Australian dollars when we parted.
I woke up this morning with about 60 dollars -half of it Australian.
It is now Monday, at 8:30 PM and we are in the middle of a thunderstorm. It looks like I will be sleeping under the dock for the first time in about 10 days.

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