Thursday, September 29, 2011

That's What Friends Are For

I wouldn’t do it for just anyone. But the lady with the beautiful smile in the photo above is my Best Friend Forever. In my blog, I refer to her as The Singer. If you’re confused because I’ve posted her picture in the past, and this doesn’t look like the same person, it’s because she’s lost a large amount of weight. She sets a great example for me when we’re eating together, but unfortunately, I usually don’t follow it.

Her pseudonym was chosen because (a) she has a beautiful voice and (b) she sang at some of the important events of my life. She sang at our wedding, forty-four years ago. She and her (also musically gifted) husband sang at my daughter’s wedding and at my mother’s memorial service.

We’ve been friends since college, way back in the sixties. We struggled through raising our kids together. (Once while we each had preschoolers and were attempting to have a telephone conversation but were repeatedly interrupted by our offspring, she said, “I give up. I’ll call you back after our boys are in kindergarten.”) She can make me laugh over ANYTHING; my children could always tell when I was talking to her on the phone because of the amount of hysterical laughter. She sobbed when I told her that my father had died. And on those times when I was ready to leave Dr. Lobo, she listened to me until I calmed down and came to my senses.

We have a long, laughter and tear filled history. So when she had a need that I could fill, I didn’t think twice about coming to her rescue.

Every week we meet for lunch, go to a movie, and enjoy coffee at Starbuck’s. Last week we sat in the theater and watched previews until The Singer said, “I’m cold. I’m going back to my car for my jacket.” But before she could get more than a few feet down the aisle, the movie started. She decided that rather than miss the opening scene, she’d freeze through the movie.

I happened to be wearing my denim skirt that has buttons all the way down the front.

We were seated in the back of a dark theater, with only a handful of other movie-goers, so I unbuttoned my skirt, took it off and gave it to The Singer. She wrapped it around her arms and watched the movie in comfort. Just before the lights came on, she returned my skirt and I put it back on.

When Dr. Lobo heard this story, he shook his head and (not for the first time) said, “You two are dangerous together.” But I wouldn’t take off my skirt for just anyone. My BFF is special.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Train Was Late—Very Late! (Part Two)

(If you have not yet read Part One of this tale, do it now. You might also want to get something to drink, as this will be a long post. I’ll wait for you.)

Okay, now that we’re all on the same page—literally—here’s the rest of the story:

Crazy Man wore flip-flops and a “vest” that had enjoyed a former life as a long sleeved shirt before the amputation of its sleeves. His jeans were cut upward about nine inches from the hem every inch or so, creating a fringe effect. As he talked to me, he acted out each story with dramatic flair. Early on, he explained that he has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). I had already surmised that fact.

This guy has an interesting real life as well as a rich fantasy life. Here are just a few of the things he told me: He’d had an altercation with a man that caused him to spend three days in jail in Granby. Somehow, though, he’d also just left the hospital because during his fight, he broke two ribs and his lung collapsed. The medication he took at the hospital caused him to chase the nurses around while “buck naked.” He was traveling to Glenwood Springs to settle a judicial matter. He didn’t have a train ticket, but that was all right because a judge had given him a paper for the conductor. Crazy Man grew up on a cattle ranch in Texas, where his people were wealthy. At nine years old, he inherited millions of dollars from his grandfather, but his dad stole it from him. But he still had plenty of money, even though he didn’t carry any of it with him. He had even set up a foundation “to help people” and he had just given $1400 to a church to supply coffee for an AA group that met there. One of his current projects involves working with some bigwigs to build a monument to the USS Indianapolis. He’d joined the Navy after dropping out of high school thirty years ago, and in fact, he’s been training to become a Navy Seal. Many times he has talked with high-ranking military personnel, and they always like his ideas. He has met Condoleezza Rice, and he once lived across the street from Sammy Davis, Jr. He’s an expert on neuroscience, and he is familiar with all the psychotropic drugs. When he was messed up on heroin, he did things like cut off the appendages of cows. But he’s been sober for 21 years now. He goes to AA, NA, OA, GA and all the other twelve-step programs.

Crazy Man talked nonstop for two hours. Finally I interrupted him by saying “I HAVE to go to the bathroom!”

At that point, the train was over half an hour late, and three other (normal) passengers had arrived. Crazy Man went off to find a maintenance guy. When he returned, he announced that the train would not come for another hour and a half. He left to find an AA meeting.

An hour or so later, Crazy Man returned, carrying a sandwich and cigarettes. People at AA had given him ten bucks, he said.

More time passed, and the California Zephyr was nowhere to be seen. I spent a lot of time staring at my environment and avoiding eye contact with Crazy Man.

One of the other passengers called Amtrak. She was told that it would be another hour and a half or so.

The (normal) men walked into Granby and bought sandwiches for all of us. (I had long since devoured all the snacks I’d taken from Margie’s pantry.)

We watched several freight trains go through.

Crazy Man left again, but returned wearing a jacket. Hmmmm . . . interesting.

The eastbound train arrived, only thirty minutes late, and picked up a couple of passengers.

The Amtrak status update gave us an estimated time of arrival of 4:55.

We waited, then waited some more. We all tried to avoid talking to Crazy Man, which wasn’t easy.

Around five o’clock, we heard a whistle. All of us scurried outside and gazed into the distance. Sure enough, we saw a light down the track.

The California Zephyr pulled into the station! Six hours and 23 minutes behind schedule.

With the (unrequested) help of Crazy Man, I got my suitcase onto the train. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Crazy Man walked past me to find someone else to entertain.

The train ride itself was delightful, and the scenery was beautiful.

Not so delightful or beautiful were the butts of the four different groups of people who mooned us as we passed by, but I guess that’s the thing to do when a train comes along. Popular culture never ceases to amaze me.

Darkness fell long before we arrived in Grand Junction at around 10:00 p.m. I have been pleased to see Dr. Lobo on many occasions, but I was extra happy to see him waiting on the platform when we pulled into the station.

The next day we explored the gorgeous land east of Grand Junction.

I wish I’d been able to view that area from the observation car of the California Zephyr during daylight hours, but . . . well, you know—the train was running late.