Sunday, October 06, 2013

Jim's World


First there was   "Ava's POV," then "A call made by Jess,"  followed by "Ty's Corner" and "Dear Trash (Dona)."  All documented what had happened to a really good friend of ours when he moved in with a woman we also all knew.  Like him, we knew her when we were undergrads and hadn't encountered her since. 

Trash, as Ava's dubbed her, had long red hair when we knew her.  She was tall and looked kind of like a British sixties model.  She was forever smoking, you couldn't picture her without a cigarette.  She was funny back then and fun to be around.  She worked for the university.

The last time I spoke to her was when I was living with Jess and Ty in college, before this site started.  For whatever reason, she had quit her job.  Just left for lunch and never went back.  And she needed a place to stay because she hadn't found a job in the time since and she'd been evicted.  I thought it was strange that her first call would be to three guys but whatever.  I said we could let her have the couch for awhile, probably a month with no problem.

Great, she said, she'd get her cat in the carrier and bring her dog and move in.


First off, the dog was a horse, huge (Rhodesian Ridgeback).  We didn't have room for it and we had a no pet lease.  Second, Ty and I are both allergic to cats.  (Jess is as well but doesn't care. He'll pet them until he sneezes and his eyes run.) 

While she was welcome to crash, she'd need to find somewhere else to board her pets.

She cursed and hung up on me.

That was my last contact with her for years.

Then our friend Juan here's from her out of the blue two years ago.  They exchange e-mails and calls.  She's living with her sister and he should move in, she keeps telling him that.

He's got a job and his own place and, thanks, but no.

For two years this goes on including after her sister passes away.

That's really what did it.

Juan felt sorry for Trash.  Her sister had just died.  He was ready to move (he hated his apartment).

He and Ty packed up his stuff.  (I helped but only at the end, I couldn't take the day off from work so I went over after five p.m.)  And then it was time for the move the next day.  Ty went along with him in the U-Haul and we all thought it would go well.

But Trash was trash.

After he left, Dona told me she was a little bothered by Trash asking him for money.  Over $800.  Because she'd made a point to tell him, and all of us, that he could move in and look for a job and take his time ("six months if he needs it") because the condo was paid for.  And she had money from her sister's insurance policy and . . .

Yet before Juan's even there, he's loaning her nearly a thousand dollars?

I saw Dona's point but then forgot about it.

I meant to call or visit but time kept slipping away on me.  Work, family, you know the drill.

Then we all read  Elaine's "Online therapy" and discovered we all thought it was kind of like Juan's story.  Dona calls Elaine and it is Juan's story.

At this point, we were begging him to leave.  We were saying he could stay with us.  We were offering everything we could think of.

But he wouldn't leave.

He was convinced there was something wrong with him.

Which is why we all wanted to write about this.

People caught in the situation Juan was -- or a worse one -- do not need to try and figure out how to fix things.  Things will never be better.   But because they are good and kind people -- who take being good and kind very seriously -- they can get stuck in situations that an asshole like me would walk out on in three minutes flat.

At this point, we all are calling him on the phone.

Then comes a huge fight Trash tries to start as Labor Day weekend ends.   We were on the phone with him. She didn't appear to notice.

She was slurring her words and at one point -- a loud THUD -- she fell and started screaming she could get up herself.

What was obvious was that she hated Juan.

I mean hated.

She brought up things like his weight.  Juan was an average size guy when he moved off.  When we saw him after Labor Day, he was as thin as a rail.  The stress and her antics had really worn on him.  And our first clue that he had lost weight was her screaming about how she knew he thought he was better than her because he'd lost weight.

She is insanely obese.  We weren't expecting that.  We saw her after Labor Day, for the first time in years.

She's like the mother in What's Eating Gilbert Grape?  -- that's how large she is.  Only bigger because she's like five feet and ten inches.  It's from being an alcoholic mainly.  She's fall down drunk every day.  She can't make it through a waking hour without booze. By herself, she consumes two bottles of wine a day, three vodka-based drinks (it varies by the day),  a half bottle of Disaronno Amaretto and several beers.  That's her daily intake.

She found out in September she was diabetic.  Weighing at least 320 pounds and never getting any exercise will do that.  The booze store was several yards from their apartment.  (She'd sold the condo.)  I could walk (not run, walk at a casual pace) from her door to the booze store in 2 minutes.  But she was so fat, so drunk and so lazy that she would usually make Juan go.  Juan doesn't drink.

(Actually, Juan does drink.  But not around drunks.  He grew up around drunks.  In college, he would drink with people who weren't drunks.  But if a drunk showed up at our table, Juan would stop drinking.  Knowing his family issues was the reason Dona and I went to visit him 3 times in two weeks in September and why, instead of driving, we flew both times.)

She was so huge.  The first time we visited, she was walking her dog.  I recognized Calvin.  I said to Dona, "Who's the man walking Trash's dog?"

It was Trash.  Gone was her pretty, long red hair.  What she had was short and grey.  She had bald spots.  She now lumbered (from the weight) like a man.  She was wearing a man's tank top and shorts and with all the pit hair and no boobs, I assumed it was a man.

Once I realized it was her, it just got worse.

She started hacking.  She was smoking a tiny cigar.  She could get these from some store (they were from Mexico) for $2.99 a pack and cigarettes were over seven bucks a pack so she'd switched to the cigars.  She hacked like crazy. 

And would move in close to me (with her awful breath) and explain it was from the "mary jane" the night before.  Pot makes you cough, she wanted me to know.

No, smoking non-stop, year-after-year, makes you cough.  And, in fact, she sounded like she had emphazima.  She was using an inhaler constantly. 

She would walk around the small apartment complex letting Calvin piss and s**t wherever and she wouldn't pick up his mess.  There was an empty field next to the complex and behind the complex.  But she wouldn't take him there because it was too far for her.

When you weigh 320 pounds (or more) and you're drunk by nine each morning and you smoke cigars and pot constantly, you really can't get around and that was obvious.

She felt the need to tell me she had a job.  A friend needed an office assistant.  That job was supposed to start in April.  She never showed up for it and you can be sure it was already filled.  (Also, he wasn't her friend.)  I tried to picture what kind of office would ever hire her?

She's missing her front teeth (upper and lower).  She's averse to bathing.  Her wardrobe is now men's clothes and one dress she cut the length of (with scissors and didn't sew it up).  She's going to be drunk all day.  And, on top of that, have coughing fits every 20 minutes that last several minutes.

Trash had borrowed five thousand dollars from Juan (in six weeks -- what a record) and would have borrowed more but she'd finally sold her sister's condo.

Sold a condo she probably didn't have the right to sell because she didn't own it and, it turns out, it was left to her niece (her sister's daughter).  Trash didn't tell the niece she was selling it.  And she didn't share any of the money with the niece.

Trash asked me -- and remember, I was seeing her for the first time in over five years -- if I had "a couple hundred on" me?  I told her I didn't and that since Dona carried her purse with her and since Dona and I were married, I let her carry any cash.  I knew she wouldn't ask Dona.  Dona's great but she can give anyone a don't-mess-with-me look and they'll back down.  I knew Trash wouldn't hit Dona up for money.

As I think about those visits to see Juan, what really stands out is Trash.

I don't feel sorry for her.  She's a cheap liar and user.  She's a drunk.  She's mean to her cats and to her dog.  (She was jealous of Juan because her animals like Juan more than they did her.)  She pushed Juan down stairs (which is how he broke a finger and wrist).  She was just so pathetic.

They had a neighbor named Eric.  Lived next door.  Eric told Juan and me he couldn't stand Trash.  And he's barely talked to her.  But she was just so negative and always frowning.  That was the closest to making a friend Trash got.

They'd just moved to that apartment and she had no friends.

But Juan had made friends with Brad, Roy, Derek, Lisa, Miguel and another Eric (not the neighbor).  He'd done that because that's the kind of person he is.

Juan is naturally happy.  It doesn't take much.  I was at his new place yesterday afternoon.  He was playing the Beatles and cooking on his George Foreman grill for himself, Jess and me.  He was singing along with the Beatles and chopping up squash and zucchini and potatoes and bell peppers (to grill). 

Juan is the winner.

And I look back and see Trash and she's miserable.  And that's when she was stealing from Juan and stealing from her dead sister.  She hasn't had a job since 2005 or 2006.  She's not going to be able to get one.  She's drinking her way through the money and she's going to be homeless. 

Juan is the winner.

She's miserable and that's because of the person she is.

On top of the money she was borrowing, once a week, she would make Juan go with her, in a cab, to the grocery store.  How long would it take to walk to the grocery store?  Less than five minutes.  But she claimed her feet hurt (I'm sure, from all that weight they had to hold up).  Once in the store, she would insist upon filet mignon.  I went with them once.  I showed up and I had just missed them.  I was going to wait on the steps but neighbor Eric told me they were just at the grocery store (and pointed to it).  So I caught up with them.

My thought was, "Who insists on filet mignon when they don't have any income coming in?"  I didn't realize that, in addition to owing Juan five thousand dollars, she was also making him pay for all the groceries.  And he couldn't even get what he wanted.  Mac and cheese.

He put some in the cart and she had a fit in the store, like a little kid.  She started screaming about her "good breeding" and how she was not raised to eat macaroni and cheese.  It was that way with anything he wanted.  So the cart was nothing but booze and meat.  She had lamb chops and she had this and that and Juan was paying for this and there was nothing in the whole basket that he wanted.

But the grilled vegetables and chicken breasts (for Juan and me, Jess is a vegetarian), that was more than enough for Juan.  We were drinking Cherry Coke Zero.  If we hadn't come over, he wouldn't have grilled.  He would have had a pot of black eyed peas and cornbread.

Trash had to tell you how important she was.  She'd blather on about being related to the royal family.  And she'd only eat this or that and it couldn't be 'common,' oh, no.

She thought she was so classy and couldn't stop telling you about it. 

Juan actually has class.  Because he's a good person. 

C.I. knew of him more than she knew him.  She'd met him but heard our various "This one time with Juan" stories.  When she heard he'd signed a lease and was making his getaway, she told us to take whatever he needed.  She said to just write down all of it so she could look over it to see what to replace but take anything in the house and let her housekeeper know if it was out of the kitchen.  (Her housekeeper would know whether it was something to replace or not if it was from the kitchen.)  The only exceptions were Ty's room and Betty and her kids' rooms.  I took some kitchen stuff to him and C.I. heard about that from the housekeeper (not as in "heard about it from a complaining housekeeper," just the housekeeper called C.I. to check colors for the replacements) and that's when C.I. found out I only took kitchen stuff.  She called up some friends with a moving company, had them grab a spare bed out of one of her unoccupied guest rooms, a kitchen table and chairs she had in the attic, vinyl albums (that she asked Betty's son to select), an ironing board, some chairs (stuffed and folding), a laptop, several bookcases,  CDs, a stereo and I don't know what else.

I hear about this from Juan who calls me to say it's like he won the lottery.  I ask him what he's talking about and he says that a van just showed up and started unloading all this stuff from C.I.
He asked me when she would be home next so he could send her a thank you card and flowers.  And he did send them because he's a good person.

He's a winner. 

Trash is a loser.

Ava, Jess, Dona and (to a lesser extent) Ty wrote pieces -- great ones -- expressing their anger at Trash.  But as I think about it --and go last -- I realize there's little point in being angry at her.  She's pathetic and her life is and will be unhappy.

The last of her money (her niece's money) will be gone soon and she'll be on the street, homeless again.  She has no friends.  Juan was her last friend and she burned that bridge, didn't she?  She's unemployable, she's unreliable, she's a professional drunk who will need help to give it up but she won't give it up.  She's grossly obese to the point that she now has diabetes and cholesterol issues and her 'solution' to that is to not take the medication the doctor's prescribed but to instead add orange juice to her vodka (for vitamin C!) every now and then.

She's going to be on the streets.  She's a loser.  She uses people and can't be a friend to anyone.  I won't shed a tear for her but she's going to get everything she deserves and her days are not going to be happy.

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