Saturday, April 26, 2014

Harry, The Pimp

I'd never thought much of Samuel. He was average in all respects; physically, mentally and emotionally. True, there was a certain X factor about him I could not read, sort of like seeing a football player on the bench having never seen him play. You don't really know what to think of his abilities but odds are he's a mediocre schmuck like the overwhelming majority of us are.

Still, with no known negatives against him I went to Sam in a pinch when I knew he was flush and borrowed a C note. The details aren't important but sometimes despite everything, you get in a jam when one fucking thing after another forces an expense on you until you're backed into a corner. I try to avoid this with every fiber of my being. But it happens.

I would venture that for an honest person that being in debt isn't the ordeal it is for me. An honest person knows we're all in this together and that in reality doing for you is the same as doing for me. In fact, as one who's lent cash before, I felt it a privilege and an honor to do so. But being on the receiving end causes me all sorts of consternation. Guess it's the same thing as my not being able to take a compliment: there's something inside me I don't want to face.

Then Samuel blows me away with this: "Hey, Harry, you know that hundred bucks you owe me? Just forget about it. We're good."

All sorts of things go through my mind. First, he says this right out in the open where everyone can hear. Is he taking pity on me, publicly embarrassing me? He's such a fuck up I know I'll never get my money so fuck trying to get it back. The horror that someone had such utter faithlessness in me sunk me into a very dark place. Another part of me counselled against taking shortcuts and not paying my debts. The last part of me went, "Yipppeee!"

I chose the shortcuts voice though I'm sure my lack of enthusiasm for that course of action had to be apparent. Plus part of me was still terrified of being branded wholly worthless.

"No, man, I can pay it back. I've got part of it saved up already." I stopped short of actually offering the thirty five I had put back. Jesus, I'm a weak and greedy bitch. It's tough being in saving mode, you can't do anything. No eating out, no movies, no extra frills at all. Problem is, the minute he made that offer my mind immediately thought of heading over to Rudy's BBQ for a moist brisket sandwich and a baked potato. High living there, buddy!

"It's something I want to do. I don't have any doubts on you paying me back. Never crossed my mind. If you want to pay me back then take the money you already saved up and do something fun with it."

Well, that's exactly what I wanted to do - but something inside me resisted this fanatically. Another voice was trying to tell me something but I managed to stuff my ears and stiffen my neck in well rationalized stupidity. However my words made sense my voice did not.

"I gotta pay my debts. I mean, everyone has to. I can't be a burden on other people. I just need more time..." I was losing steam, not buying my own logic.

"It's my pleasure," he smiled in explanation. "I gotta go now. I'll see ya at the shop."

"OK, sure." I was defeated but seething. At that point I realized I hadn't thanked him - and frankly that was the last thing I wanted do - but what bad form not to! "Thanks, Sam!" I feigned. He lifted a departing hand in acknowledgement.

I moved off to myself, away from everyone and everything, wondering why Sam's act of generosity put me in such a miserable state. God, what's wrong with me? My struggle for survival is very bitter but must be kept to myself. Who in the all the world can pay my rent? Only someone who can answer yes to that can truly help - and, of course, nobody can. I often sulk in the dark.

A thought struck me. Maybe Sam came to know this about me. True, he can't pay my rent but he could do this, reliving all sorts of strain I'd have for the four to five weeks it'd take to pay him back. Surely if I could lift so much misery from someone else's life with a simple gesture like this the appeal of that would be very great. How often does one know he's truly making a difference in another's life? How many times had I ached to know I was truly making a difference?

Or maybe Sam had read a book on karma or joined some religion and felt obligated to forgive a debt so he could morally position himself to a better place. That thought vaguely annoyed me. That was far less personal. Shit, this came out of nowhere! It's why I try to keep a read on people so I don't get blindsided like this. I'm completely off-balance and unprepared. I'm only prepared for things that make me angry like some conservative dick.

Calm down. Breathe. What's really bugging you? "Well, part of it is it's hard to believe I'd ever do something like that. I need my goddam money too much! I feel like a jerk." Judging yourself is just as wrong as judging someone else. Sam wanted to do something that felt good to him. Wouldn't you be glad to help someone like that too? "Well, yeah, but I'd still rather be the helper than the helpee. I don't trust myself." Go get your brisket.

I could hardly look the girl at the counter in the eye as I made my order. I felt a gnawing feeling of needing to explain to her how I got the money. Maybe if I eat this without enjoying it that would make up for my ingratitude and selfish outlook! People think you're smart, Harry. If they knew you had thoughts like these they'd laugh.

The meal was pretty fucking tasty and for better or worse I did allow myself to enjoy it for the most part. I was anxious to report back to Sam, feeling a bit better about myself. It was while cleaning up my mess and walking out the door it hit me: Sam had obligated me. One good turn deserves another. As he'd forgiven me I must now forgive others. Jesus, shit like this could make the world work out after all.

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