When I Need A Pick Me Up, by my friend Ryan King

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

And I'd Like To Say This About That

(Originally 3/20/07)

I need to go in for an attitude adjustment on My Benefactor.

I hope I've cited this somewhere else on these webpages, but this is what I know about how I feel about My Benefactor--I'm jealous of him and I'm also resentful of the adolescent position I'm put in by his generosity.

That said, let me detail my exact history with this man.

In 1987 I was hired to work in a mail facility on the overnights in Mount Vernon NY. I was in my twenties and it seemed that I was on my way to adultsville. The job paid well, it had benefits, and my girlfriend at the time also worked for the post office. We talked marriage and considered what all would happen when we combined our incomes. We were both in the same fanatical church so all our ducks were in a row. And yes, she was a bit of a nutjob, but she was the sweetest little nutjob I've ever known. Unlike the scary nutjobs I'd hooked up with thereafter.

Anyway, from the day I started that job, I was fascinated by this guy who looked like George Segal. And he with me. I know now that it was a mancrush. Then, being all religious and in High Denial, I never tried to define it. I just went with it. So after I found that this George Segal lookalike was also a community theater actor, I was hooked! And when I dared to say hello, he said hello back! Then I found out that he was as witty as Bugs Bunny, and as mercurial. And his fascination with me was a big plus. So we became friends. I met his wife and his two little kids. We'd gone out to a comedy club, ate sushi in the Village (my first time), saw community theater together, saw Shakespeare in the Park together. I considered us as really good friends, back before I even knew what friendship was supposed to be all about. Also, back then, I always had an agenda with being friends with people who were not in church. I was supposed to Lead Them To Christ. I had even brought him to my church a few times--but getting him to buy into Christianity was like getting Bugs Bunny to buy stock in shotguns. And I wound up going places with him that my Pastor would not have approved of anyway.

But self-delusion is a grand platform from which to dive into questionable behavior. At least, questionable for a Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, Conservative Born-Again Christian.

Okay, enter his fascination with The Asian Beauty. In our small elite work area, a woman had just come out of a long term affair with our married co-worker. Being a Christian, I wanted to offer her support--instead of throwing stones at her, I did what Jesus Would Have Done. I bent and wrote in the dirt instead of joining the condemning crowd. She and I became friends as well. And George (let's call him that) was besotted with her. He couldn't NOT speak with her. He moon-eyed every time she walked by. So when she and I became friends, George piggybacked off me to get face-time with her. Well, okay, I thought. She's a beautiful woman. He's a handsome man. But surely nothing will come of it!

Our other co-workers continually told me that George and Asian Beauty were getting busy. Well, I couldn't believe it. Wouldn't, in fact. Not when they both knew what a Christian I was. Not when I had appealed so strongly to her NOT to return back to being some man's jump-off (didn't know the term back then, but it means being no more than a sex-relief, no potential to be significant) And then, when the rumors were driving me crazy, I had to ask him and her, during one of our many lunches together--just the three of us, split off from everyone else because that's how "close" we had become.

They looked me dead in my face and swore that they weren't having an affair.

Shortly thereafter, in the morning when we all were supposed to leave, they were caught on the parking lot video cameras steaming up her station wagon windows. Before I reported to work that night, it was the talk of the previous two workshifts.

I hadn't had a cry that hard since I had been a toddler. I cried alone, and I cried with the Asian Beauty. She apologized. George apologized. They apologized together. They apologized seperately. So sorry. Everybody was SO sorry.

I grew up a little bit during that season. I realized people were capable of doing anything.

He tried to quit her, and I tried to help. I did my Christian best to help them off each other. (heh). But it was no use. They kept relapsing. I felt the eyes of scrutiny on me as well as on them. I did my best to be a Christian example through all their failures and shameful behavior. I kept asking myself, what would Jesus do? What would he do to George? What would he do to Beauty? Si that's what I tried to do.

Then in late '91, my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. I didn't know what was in store, but surely things would work out fine? In prayer, I thought I heard God tell me that if my mother were to die, I would be free to go anywhere and do anything for him, as I was doing for George and Beauty. My mother died in early '92. Not more than six months after the treatments began.

George and the Beauty took a backburner to the challenge of What Was I Going To Do With The Rest Of My Life. By this time, I had another girlfriend who was the less friendlier version of a nutjob. She had two kids already and a bad temper. She liked my mother (no wonder) but I was 'estranged' from her by the time my mother died.

So, I packed up my cares and went to Missouri to Bible School to become The Next Biggest Preaching Sensation (I've come to know thate this would be the first in a series of runaways that I would perform to get out of uncomfortable and awful situations). The white people who received me had other ideas. Over the next five years, I grew up a little more. I also I forged a relationship with My Friend The Doctor, and with My Mentor, and got a Master's Degree in Counseling. Eight years later, I arrived back to the east, landing in Trenton, NJ (a runaway move to get out of Missouri--I left a doctoral program, a house, and incurred debt to afford to move). Three years later, I moved to NYC, failing at the relationship with the girl I believe I still love to this day (another runaway move to get away from the girl). But I would still get my NY license and become a therapist in the city and succeed, right?

Around then is when I ran into George, who was as fascinated with me as he had been back in '87. We caught up on old times. He informed me that Beauty and he had tried a relationship after I left. George had divorced his wife. But it didn't work out. It turns out that Beauty wanted him for his money. He'd even let her and her two kids stay with him in his New Jersey house. Eventually, he had to force her out. It ended badly.

A year later, my NYC life failed, by license stalled, and I got evicted.

George said, "Come live in my house. I'm hardly there. And I need some help."

Which turned out to be true, oddly enough. Because all the while, throughout all the plays and Shakespeare in the Parks and sushi and affairs and comedy clubs, he had been a stone-cold junkie. A suburban substance-abuser. A prescription pill-popping Poppa.

And I had no idea. All I thought I'd ever seen him do was have way too many beers before coming in to work, but he had an addictive personality and was out of control long before I'd ever met him.

Now I live with him. After all this time. Ain't life funny?

George (I like this name for him MUCH better. From now on My Benefactor will now be referred to as George) has never tried to do me any harm. He's only ever been his own out-of-control self. And through that, he managed to like me enough to do kind things for me.

So yesterday, when I finally took the rental car back, after cinching the deal on my new car, I returned home and started to plan on how I would get back to the dealership, purposing not to ask George for a ride back. I knew that I had not finished paying him for the car I had wrecked, and I know that paying for this new car would prevent me from realistically doing so in the future. If he wanted to sue me over the money I still owe him, he would win hands down. But also, as previous posts will attest, I felt like I hated George. I didn't want anything from George. I hated living with George and I hated George's ugly grown-up son.

So he asks me, "Did you get the car?"

And I say, "Yeah. I can't believe it, but I actually did."

And he says, "Well, c'mon let's go get it! You want a ride?!"

I swear. I can be such a scumbag sometimes. All George seems to want in return for my rent-free existence is the care and concern I showed him back in the day. And that's not too much to ask for is it?

So we rode back to the dealership and we talked about the plays he's been going to see lately (throughout his joblessness), and I went to get my brand new car and he never mentioned how I'm going to pay him for the car I wrecked, and then I left him to drive back by himself and I haven't spoken to him since.

I'm going to work harder at not being such a bad person to him. If repayment for all this generosity is just a few words in the day and the night of friendly concern, I think I could possibly afford that. All this Being Friends education that I've been learning in the last two seasons of my life, through Matt and everyone else, should extend to my home life as well, shouldn't it? And although George tends to want to go further than I do ("Want to see a movie? Want to go to a play? Let's go and get dinner!") I could still afford to say "Hello."

Couldn't I?

Could I?

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