It began with a frantic Saturday afternoon phone call from my friend KindSoulJim. He asked what I was doing on Sunday- I asked why, and he wondered if I would help his roommate move out. Would I? "I'll be there with bells on," I replied. "That might scare the neighbors, and besides, you did that at Christmas", KindSoulJim reminded me.
Let me explain. KindSoulJim is the type of person who looks for good in everyone, even when it isn't really there. While this seems admirable, it does create some difficulties in everyday life. Like, for example, when you start dating someone with no job, no money, no aspirations, no social skills and no sex drive. If you happen to be KindSoulJim, you'll then allow this person to move in with you. Let's call him "George".
Some people bring home a bird with a broken wing. In this case, the bird had two broken wings, a club foot, serious likability issues and possible brain damage. And it may have also been a vulture.
Fast forward a couple of years. "George" has now made a permanent lump on the sofa and redecorated the house to look like a bad Victorian funeral parlor. Heavy drapes, gloomy statues, and somber colors. Of course, he contributed little in rent, instead working around the house to earn his keep. He started dozens of jobs, none of which were completed past about the 75th percentile. A handyman who never finishes a job always has work....KindSoulJim has long since had the good sense to break up with him, but now there is the matter of how to get him out of the house.
Which was the point of the call. Jim had helped "George" find an apartment (okay, actually, spent months talking him into one and then finding it) and Sunday was moving day. I was asked to come along to lend an extra hand and make sure everything went smoothly. What this really meant was that I was supposed to be the alpha dog, the heartless bouncer who had to hurl poor "George" homeless into the street with a cold winter fast approaching. "As long as you buy drinks afterward" was my condition. After all, a Los Angeles winter isn't really that cold and shopping carts can be acquired quite reasonably on craigslist.
I showed up on KSJ's door bright and early Sunday morning, unshaven and dressed in my best US Marines T-shirt. He and I cheerfully began tossing objects into the moving van while "George" watched and made a begrudging effort to assist. Soon the van was full and we drove over to the new digs. In all honesty, it was a nice place- bright and cheery with big windows, lots of light, and even a small balcony, which would come in useful in case we needed to toss someone off of it.
"George" immediately began complaining about the new apartment. He looked up at the ceiling and whined "This is not nine feet. It's supposed to have nine foot ceilings". "Well, sport, there's not a lot we're gonna do about that today" was my response. "Where do you want these things?"
Through out the day we played our respective parts. "George" scowled and fretted and I believe was deeply surprised that he was actually moving out, KindSoulJim felt guilty, and I kept up the steady flow of earthly possessions via the moving van. At one point during the second trip, I opportunely seized George's key ring from KindSoulJim's front door and retrieved the house keys from it. Amazingly, this went unnoticed at the time.
Finally the van was empty for the last time and to our utter astonishment, especially that of "George", the move was complete. On our final check of the moving van, KindSoulJim asked for his garage door opener back. "George" replied that he didn't know where it was. KSJ reached past him and removed it from the sun visor. At that moment, "George" yanked the key ring out of the ignition to dramatically remove the house keys and hurl them at us - too late! At that moment he noticed that I had pre-empted his program. "Now I see why YOU were here all along", he barked.
Is he slow or what?
That night, the Martinis were especially satisfying, as if they had been specially made at the Cocktail Bar of Justice and Goodness. Congratulatory calls came in from as far away as the eastern seaboard. Good news travels quickly in our information age.