Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Lonely Lumberjack is perhaps a little less lonely

I saw him wheeling past me; leaning into his walker, barely an arm’s length away, on the other side of the cafe window where I sipped a fine coffee and nibbled an outrageously large and delicious donut following the collapse of far more humble plans. I downed the last morsels and set out to catch up to him but the old man is deceivingly quick.

It had probably been two years since I last spent any moment alone with him one on one. I’d left his apartment moments after a pair of snarling bigoted tirades aimed at two different minorities. Well, maybe not tirades. Let’s say… tiradettes.

For two years we’ve politely nodded, waved or smiled at group functions, and sometimes even briefly chatted. but given I was probably his second-closest male friend, and officially the executor of his will, there was always the elephant in the gymnasium. He does not make friends easily and maintains perhaps a trio at best. Often, in my more wakeful moments I have told myself I should at least explain the reasons for my aloofness and try to give him one more chance. I don’t need him to change his mind necessarily, but only to keep out of my face the product of his albeit-honest misperceptions which he gleaned in prison; viewing the worst possible behaviour from certain associations while succumbing to tribal illusions. I understand his view, and why it is natural and why certain logic escapes him. In ways he is very wise and in other ways very unwise, but I want no part of his prejudice. It is offensive to people I love more than he, and I don’t wish to feel unfaithful.

So I lingered in the neighbourhood, sitting on a bench, writing on an adorable onion-skin air-mail writing pad surely manufactured a half-century ago which I found in a dusty variety store across the street. Sure enough he eventually came rolling back and I called out to him.

He brought me up to his apartment. I was in financial decrepitude at the time and eagerly accepted a hearty pasta meal with plenty of meat in the sauce. I declined seconds but while washing up in the bathroom he slipped another bowl out undetected and I much enjoyed it again.

“Watch out for that [Theatre Guy],” he suddenly warned me. He’d no doubt seen us sitting together. “Never trust that ___ hole.”

So here it comes again. ‘Well, I’m on his circle.” I said. Well we’re already good friends, is what I wanted to say. Better friends than you and I. And furthermore, Theatre Guy is straight. And you’re a dumbass. Sometimes.

I don’t know why Mr. Lumberjack respects me so much. No man alive meets the rigid standards by which he judges men. Me especially I would think. Women meanwhile are sacred.

We met up again recently without incident and soon I will take him shopping for clothes again.

I don’t know if he understands why I cooled off with him. I’d previously warned him a couple times about bigoted conversation but he assumes I’m simply naive about it, and too generous in my appraisals. I wasn’t bothered by his words at the surprise pasta dinner; only disappointed. Perhaps we’ll be able to maintain an understanding going forward and remain friends.

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