Part Twenty-Five: A Different Box of Crayons

I walked into a convenience store one night only to hear the music of KMFDM playing on a stereo behind the counter, which I found to be a moderately surreal experience. This led me to strike up a conversation with the guy operating the register and a friendship was born from that simple encounter. We spent countless hours in that damn convenience store; talking about music, books, movies, and whatever inappropriate shit happened to pop into our heads.

I would walk down to that convenience store at night and lose track of time just hanging out there with him, and not exclusively because I had nothing else to do throughout the middle of the night (because I always had things that I could be doing, I’m an expert where it concerns distracting myself almost perpetually). It was an easy friendship routine to fall into, having a number of overlapping interests like we did.

Being altogether too self-involved and not always the most considerate person, I did occasionally tend to take advantage of this new friendship. The number of fountain drinks and gas station hot dogs that I consumed during those visits with him are probably equally without measure…because I have the dietary habits of a mentally challenged person, as anyone spending much time with me would quickly discovery, and so it was difficult for me not to take advantage of the situation.

The truest evidence that he didn’t care about his job altogether too much was not reflected by the copious amounts of food and beverage that I was provided with while spending time there, it was exemplified by the times when I would be standing there and he would suddenly tear off a handful of scratch off lottery tickets and hand me some of them, telling me to scratch them off. We would stand there, scratching off lottery tickets in the middle of the night, waiting until we had obtained sufficient winnings to cover at least the cost of the tickets themselves. Winning at the lottery through a sort of reverse engineering would be the best way to think of it, not so much theft as a calculated form of borrowing.

Sadly, he was transferred to an alternate location that was outside of casual walking range for me, so I was no longer able to spend quite as much time with him at work. He made up for that fact by spending more time in my apartment with me than anyone who didn’t actually live there (though there were times when he would just fall asleep on the sofa or in one of the chairs because he was too tired to worry about the drive home). I would sometimes fall asleep in my recliner with him sitting at my desktop, sifting through my digital music archive, and watching movies…and there were plenty of times when I would wake up with him still sitting right there.

I once described this friend by saying that, while he might not be the brightest crayon in the box, he was like a Crayola Jumbo. He may lack some of the variety and brilliance of those normal Crayolas, but he was thicker and far more durable, less easily broken and seemingly lasting forever. That may have seemed like a bit of a back-handed compliment, and it probably was…but it was intended to be a sincerely complimentary statement at the same time.

One could easily downplay his intellect if they wanted, but I’m not inclined to do so. He is definitely a smarter man than he lets on, maybe smarter than he gives himself credit for being as well…but it’s not his intellect that makes him someone I would always be happy to consider a friend. I’ve rarely met another individual with the sort of compassion and consideration that he’s capable of displaying, and it served as quite the counterpoint to my own lack where those things are concerned. He actively worried about me a lot of the time because, without regular reminders or someone taking note, I would routinely forget to eat anything for days at a time. This was a man who would show up at my work in the middle of the night, unannounced, just to drop off something for me to eat and drink because he happened to be thinking about me. He’s the sort of person who would show up with cash in hand if he even suspected that a friend was in need or dealing with a rough patch.

There aren’t many people out there like him and it’s a damn shame, because the world would be a better place if there were…unless you happen to be a woman, because that man was certainly quite the womanizer. I may have gotten around quite a bit, as you’re well aware (so don’t act fucking shocked when I say it now), but I did tend to maintain good relationships with the women I dated or even casually enjoyed…but my friend, he burned bridges like it was going out of style when the relationship or casual situation ended.

The only conflict that ever really existed between he and I was after we were sharing a house along with the woman who would become his wife a short while later. Were it not for her being present, the conflict might not have become an issue, but she and I definitely didn’t work and play well together. That woman rubbed me all the wrong ways, and not in the sense that I might actually enjoy it…and the feeling was certainly mutual, because she despised me. I may have taken exception with how he treated women at times, but even with all of that taken into account, he definitely deserved someone better than her as far as I was concerned. However, as bad as it got between he and I during that interval where we lived under the same roof, he was the sort of man who went out of his way to rent a U-Haul for me so that I could get everything moved out with the assistance of my little brother all because he wasn’t going to be around to help me with the move.

We gradually dropped out of regular contact after that, but he is still my friend and probably always will be.

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