Friday, March 13, 2009

It's like the song says-

What song? Doesn't matter. They all get around to it eventually; sadness, loneliness, heart break. The opposite of good. For some reason, perhaps because I am reaching the end of my life, I find my self shuttled into that invisible corner where no one knows you when you are down and out. It's like the song says.

As a tween, I was sent to deportment classes. Learned how fill out a dance card and how to dance it; how to sit and how to walk; how to eat and have all around good manners. I would have benefited more from a course in diesel mechanics. Actually,I did learn quite a few manual trades in the Army but it being wartime everything had a modicum of violence attached to it that did not translate into civilian life i.e. "weld up a box so we can put it on some prisoners head and whack it with sticks." I was playing the bad boy before I went into the service and it was doing me pretty good. When I came back, I really was the bad boy and suddenly no one wanted to know me.

The thing is, I should learn to make friends with a lower class of person. But I don't. Instead, I pal up with the sort of chaps and chicks whom I grew up with. (remember, I know the rules of deportment) and therein lies the rub.
I get exposed as being rough and coarse for real, and that just doesn't do.

So now I am as down and out as is possible. I haven't eaten a full meal in ages
let alone seen a glass of wine. Are dinner parties illegal now? Well of course not, but who would want us at one? (They're broke for God sakes) Me, a poor sport? Well, no. If I had something and you had a need, you would have it. How many computers and instruments and other things have I given away or sold at fractional value just because someone would benefit? People who know me know the answer.

Do I deserve the life I have? Well yes I do. Really. I have the reason written down some place, but if you read it you wouldn't believe it. It's right out of the twilight zone and that tune has no words.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An inconvenient friend

It often seems that the friends I make, the ones who seem ready to love me for the whole go round decide at some point that I am somewhat along the line of a good meal but too hard to get at; like blue crab or something. Think about how tasty those crabs are; then think about the last time you had a mess of them over the house. The shells hurt your hands and the Cayenne gets in the pokes and slices and then the trash doesn't come for days and lessons are taught by the blue tail fly. Don't fret, someones mamma's going to see those maggots on the black trash bags. Then it comes down to the reasonable gathering where Poppa pulls out the years grouper crop and a fish fry is put on.
Good food good company. No mess. No pain. No one to ask the wrong question in this happy group. No, because they all sailed safely through the 60s happy in the knowledge that they were secure and the men they knew were safe and smart and they lit fires on beaches and spoke codes and fattened their futures and worst thing was they forgot, because it didn't mean a thing to any one's plans until it proved an inconvenient mess when a guy like me slipped through and then had the gall to exhibit symptoms of a horror that could not be controlled or over looked. How dare a person behave the part of a separate reality and what were we thinking anyway?
Well the problem is easily solved. Just pretend there was never anything there and it will go away.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Parting Glass

It's sad to reach an age where something once so large in one's life starts, through a series of sad goodbyes, to implode like a bright star and shrink to a compressed memory, shared now by a few scattered friends.

Fred Foster Davis, F.F. or Filthy Fred as he was universally known; not for lack of hygiene, but for his abiding love for ribald folk song, has died and left a big gap in the circle around the warm fire of friendship. As we slide down the metaphoric pew to fill his now cold seat it seems that each shadow takes on the face of someone too dear to lose.

And how dear was Fred? In '83 and Fred showed up needing to borrow a car to drive to Fernandina in aid of some sort of vehicle exchange over on Cumberland Island. I gave him my yellow Wagoneer, an old veteran but drivable. Fred was back in two days to recruit me to help him tow a Volvo back. I said OK, fine and the day was set. The next morning as we were ready to leave, Fred mentioned that I might find the brakes a bit "tight." He was right, of course, as he had replaced some major components while he had the car. He just did that kind of thing. You borrow a clunker from a friend, find the fluid reservoir a tad low, so you put some fluid in and watch it. Not Fred; he rebuilt the whole system. You know, as a favor for the loan. That was just the kind of guy he was, plus he liked order in machinery . As a life long sailor, he had the ability to make or fix anything. Looking back, I find it hard to think of a time a whirlwind visit from Fred did not result in some repair to the lights, plumbing or car. I'm half certain if he house sat for a month a remodel of some sort would be effected. Really.

Fred died down island in Nevis. He had property there and after losing his wonderful 53' steel hulled ketch,"Curlew" to a hurricane, he had given up life as a charter captain to split his time between the Eastern Shore of VA and the Caribbean.

Our history goes back 35 years and the adventures abound.
In fact the last time I saw Fred, maybe 5 years now, our paths crossed in Beaufort, NC. during a Pirate Festival. It went from a quiet visit with other friends to a highly questionable activity involving reefer, rum and a functional canon. Did not see him again though I figured it was just a matter of time. Now this. Fred leaves a new wife and an ex-wife, Mary. Mary is a story herself and a good friend. The new wife? I did not know about, but I'll wager she has spirit.

So Fred, about to seek treatment for Cancer in Brazil, I'm told, fell to that terrorist of disease while being given oxygen and morphine at the Alexandra Hospital in Nevis and lies buried so far away.

Fred Davis, dead at 65. Too soon for a man so full of work to do and robbed of his days as a elder, sitting some dock yard with stories to amaze the children and a tot of rum near by. But, that is only the future as I saw it. Perhaps he did not look ahead and just lived point to point, like a good navigator.

My friend Dave, another good one, held a pledge with Fred. It was the kind of thing people say, when they really do not consider the truth or consequences of the bargain. The bond was, whomever died first, the survivor would sing "The Parting Glass" at his funeral. It didn't turn out because Dave did not get the news, none of us got it, until yesterday and that was too late. David went home and sang it by himself.

Now if you don't know The Parting Glass, it's a sad Irish tune sung at closing time, and the last part goes: "And if it falls unto my lot, that I should rise and you should not. I'll softly go and gently call, good luck and joy be with you all."

The song is actually about drinking, not dying, but it doesn't take much for it to become an allegory to everything I have been saying here. On that point, I'll shove off in hopes that you will find the "Parting Glass" and hear it for Fred. From there on you will have it to sing to yourself when you are lonely or sad and you might find it of use.