Trading Pants

Posted: March 31, 2019 in Uncategorized

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27 July 2012

This morning I visited with Silver in front of Starbucks. It’s interesting, the looks I get, especially when he has to leave for a few minutes to use the washroom. Some people look away, but one lady dropped me a dollar. Silver offered to split it with me, but I told him to hang on to it.

Silver said, “I remember one time, when I still had my big beard, I went into Starbucks for a coffee. Jody served me, I’d known her for years. The woman behind me said to Jody, ‘You serve people like that?’ Jody said, ‘Sure, he’s a paying customer. Why wouldn’t I serve him?’ I didn’t say anything. What am I going to do, spoil my meal ticket?”

I said, “Andre told me that he’s on good terms with the owner of Starbucks. The owner told him that he’s welcome to stay in back as long as he keeps it neat. Andre goes out of his way to make sure all the trash is picked up. It works out for everyone.”

Silver said, “I’m waiting for Chester. He gets his check today and he said that he’d lend me fifty bucks. I’ve borrowed from him before and I always pay him back on time — not a week late or a day late, as soon as I get my check.

“I miss a lot of people who used to be around here, like Trash and Craig.”

“I remember Craig,” I said. “He used to sleep by the library in mid winter. I’d bring him a coffee in the morning and peek under a corner of his sleeping bag, just to make sure he was still alive. Sometimes he’d grumble, ‘Just leave it there, bro. I’ll have it later. I’m not awake yet.’ ”

Silver said, “Craig lived at the Rex for a while. He got an inheritance of eight thousand dollars. He got people to do everything for him. He never left his room. Soon, it started getting bad. He’d shit all over his room. We’d say to him, ‘Craig, the bathroom’s just down the hall, use it.’ He got moved into a program at Addiction Recovery for detox.

“Chester’s usually here by now. He comes down early to do a butt run, but since he’s getting his check today, I guess he doesn’t need to.”

I said, “Joy told me that Big Jake is scheduled to get out in October, but since he refuses to do his programs, for alcohol recovery and anger management, he won’t be out until spring.”

“I never liked that guy,” said Silver. “It was his eyes. I could never trust the look in his eyes.”

“I find Daimon the same way,” I said, “but with the broken ankle, he’ll always have a weakness. Joy broke both of her ankles and she said they’ve been fragile ever since. She could break one by stepping off a curb. Daimon would go down with a kick to the ankle.”

“Yes but which ankle, What if I kicked the wrong ankle? I think it’s better if I just run — ‘whish’ I’m out of here.”

At noon the benches were full with ten of my friends gathered around. On the lawn were Shark, Little Jake, Wolf and Shaggy. Outcast said to me, “Dennis, you have to go take a look at Little Jake. You won’t believe it. One night with Debbie and he’s a new man.”

“Here comes Jungle Jim. He probably dropped some crack with Jake.” A man with a long beard, wearing a tank top, and a tall slender woman, were walking towards us.

Joy said, “The last time I saw her she passed her hand over the spikes in my hair. I jumped up and punched her in the back of the head.”

Outcast said, “Honestly, Dennis, you have to go see Jake” I walked up to the lawn and hardly recognized him. He was shaved, his hair was washed and stylishly trimmed. Also, he was wearing clean clothes. I introduced myself to him and he laughed.

“Hi Shark,” I said. “So, tomorrow is the day for your move.”

“It’s Monday. Irene’s at home making some phone calls. That’s why she’s not here. I just came down to meet Buck.”

I went back to the bench to talk to Shakes, Andre and Inusiq. Andre shook my hand then fell asleep against the shoulder of Shakes. He awoke briefly to ask for a drink. Shakes handed him the bottle and Andre slowly nodded off.  Just as he dropped the bottle, Shakes reached over and caught it.

“You know, Dennis,” said Shakes, “I may be a drunk and a stoner, but I have some scruples.”

“What scruples do you have, Shakes?”

“I’m kind to children. I have a grandson and some granddaughters. Do you know what I don’t understand?”

“What’s that Shakes?”

“I don’t understand parents who take children to restaurants and drink in front of them. That sets a bad example.”

“Did your parents ever drink in front of you?” I asked.

“No… I drank in front of them, but I did it discreetly.”

Inusiq’s arm was in a sling. “How did you hurt your arm, Inusiq?”

“I fell off a ledge. I dislocated my shoulder. I had to go to the hospital. I didn’t do it with these guys. I did it by myself. What’s your name again?”

“Dennis,” I said.

“Do you remember my name?”

“Nuisance,” I said.

“See Shakes, he remembers my name. And your name is Dennis the Menace, right?”

“Shakes, ” I said, “your pants look cleaner. Did you wash them?”

“No,,, but we got some laundry detergent. Dennis, can you do me a favor? There’s a clothing store going out of buisness in the Eaton Center. Everything is on sale. Can you get me a pair of track pants?”

What size do you wear?”

My waist size is twenty-eight. The length would be thirty two or thirty four.”

“I can’t get them today, Shakes, but perhaps on the weekend.”

“In that case, can we trade pants?”

“Shakes, if we were to trade pants, I’d have to roll them up three times at the bottom. My pants would come to your knees. Can’t you get pants at the Shep?”

“They’re closed.”

“How about the Mission?”

“I’m barred for life from the Mission.”

“How about the Sally Ann?”

“I’m not barred from the Sally Ann, but they wouldn’t let me in with alcohol on my breath. They’d throw me out.”

Inusiq said to me, “You and I could trade pants, then I could trade with Shakes.”

“That’s a nice thought, Inusiq, but, as nice as your pants are, they wouldn’t conform to the dress code where I work. We have a Friday Jeans Day, but no Track Pants Day. I don’t think trading pants would work.”

Shark came by and said, “Has Buck been by? I’ve been waiting for him. Did, Joy, Outcast and Chester leave? Do they know something I don’t? I guess I’ll hang around a while longer. Right now, I’m going to McDonalds to buy an iced tea.”

“Shark,” asked Shakes, “could you by me one of those Sausage McMuffins?”

“They close those off at 10:30.”

“Then, how about a cheese burger?”

“I’ll see what I can do, Shakes.”

To me Shakes said, “I have to eat something. I bought a cheese burger this morning, but we split it three ways.”

Inusiq said, “He has to eat something. I have to eat something. You have to eat something.”

It was time for me to go. I shook hands with Shakes and Inusiq. Andre was still asleep. As I was leaving, Inusiq said, “Txin yaxtakuq.”

I asked, “What does that mean?

“I love you.”

I replied, “Txin yaxtakuq, Inusiq and Shakes.”

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