Beards and Tucson

As we were walking along 4th Avenue we ran into numerous beggars and street musicians. We encountered a group of rainbow kids, who were laughing, and in general having a good time.

The leader of the group was a fellow with a dark, full beard.

As we approached the group, I half-expected to encounter a hey-buddy-can-you-spare-a-dollar routine. Sure as clockwork, the bearded leader,  said “Hey, mister, could you spare (…..) me some of your beard.”

All of us laughed. I said that if he kept  growing his beard, he would some day realize that he too had a thick gray beard.

Thank you for your service to our country.

The other morning I had been sitting at the coffee shop drinking coffee. I left to go home. As I left, I stopped to greet Michael, a troubled soul. Earlier he had been speaking of being treated for PTSD at the VA.

Michael was talking with the local Green Party candidate for mayor. The Green Party candidate had been walking his dog along the sidewalk. The Green Party candidate was touting the Green Party agenda. The Green Party candidate asked Michael which branch of the military he had been in.

Michael replied “The Marines. I’m a trained killer.”

The Green Party candidate said “Thank you for your service to our country.” and he continued walking his dog down the sidewalk.

Marine Recon

This morning I was having coffee with Pat. Michael walked into the coffee shop, put-together as usual. However, today he has bloody marks on his neck and face as if he had cut himself shaving. [Oops, he has a full beard.] But I won’t ask him about it. If he comes my way I will greet him as any other day.

He was wearing a green T-shirt with a Harley-like skull-like Marine logo with lettering that said Marine Recon.

Apparently Pat and Michael have started a conversation about this before. Pat asked Michael where he got his training.
Michael: Fort Bragg, North Carolina. [So far, so good]
Pat: What did you do?
Michael: [His mood darkens.] I don’t like to talk about it. It triggers my PTSD. I don’t like being questioned about that. I told a woman at the VA not to question me. “Call the police if you are going to question me.”
Pat: I wasn’t questioning you.
Michael: [Tone of voice gets deeper and more ominous.] Yes, you were.

A friend that he was with asked Michael to come up to the counter to order his breakfast. Michael and friends got their food and went outside. Disaster averted. I remarked to Pat that the conversation was uncomfortable. Just after our conversation took a natural turn to something else, in walked Michael. He walked over to Pat.

Michael: I am totally disabled, have been for 25 years. Prisoner of War camps do that to you.

Michael took out his wallet, and took out a card. I couldn’t see the card clearly, but it wasn’t a normal business card. It looked to be more like a credit card, complete with a magnetic strip.

Michael: [to Pat] Here, take this.
Pat: No. I believe you.
Michael put the card back into his wallet. Without another word he leaves the coffee shop.

Wolf Man

Edward was sitting at the bar at the Grand. I was moving at a good clip this particular day. I passed Alex at about the same time that I passed the Grand. I was not aware of Edward at the Grand.

For whatever reason, Edward decided that he would like to greet me with an epithet that he had never used  to greet me before. He for some unknown reason decided to greet me as Wolf Man. Interestingly enough the epithet, Wolf Man, could apply to either me or Alex. Because I had never been called Wolf Man before, I didn’t respond to Edward’s greeting, although I did realize who he was, and that the greeting/epithet was directed to me. I am not sure whether Alex knew either Edward or me. In any case, Alex may have assumed that the epithet has hurled at him. 

Quickly, Edward and I both understood the gestalt of the situation. Edward again called me Wolf Man, I responded as though this were a common nickname, at which point, Edward said to me, “Sorry, I have had a few.”

Hey, Minsky, put this into one of your frames.

Picasso

Late afternoon on the fourth of July, I was walking to the High Desert Market to check out the menu. Along the way I saw one of Bisbee’s talk-to-your-self types.  He had a beard, and he was wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans. I could hear the conversation, “The bitch. The cigs weren’t that good anyway.”

He was sitting on one of the empty driveways. He got up slowly, and crossed the road, to the side I was walking on. He crossed the road with difficulty, staggering and walking slowly. As I neared him, he said “Sorry, I talk to myself.” I replied that this was no problem. He not only talked to himself;  he also smelled of alcohol.

He continued along the sidewalk, and I went into the High Desert Market. This afternoon they had nothing that I wished to order.

I turned around and headed back home. The old guy was still on his way to the Circle K, he hadn’t gotten very far. I caught up to him as he entered the Circle K parking lot. he had a couple dollars in his hand for his purchase, and he was still talking, to himself, not me, I think. “What is everybody doing at the Circle K today?” My question exactly.

Then Charley – a whole ‘nother case – greets him. They went into the Circle K, and I headed for home. As I entered our house, I saw these same two guys leaving the Circle K.

For security, our front door has a glass window which distorts the view of the person, kinda like a collage of Picassos. Shortly thereafter, someone knocked on our door. He had a beard and wore a blue shirt. The knocker then rang the doorbell. Much as I didn’t want to talk to them any more, I decided to open the door.

No it wasn’t these two guys, it was a friend from Bisbee.