Wednesday, June 13, 2007

THE BUM ALSO RISES


I am hardly a born-again Christian, but a fundamentalist minister friend once told me that after being "born again", the Old Man will try to resurface, you know, wine, women, booze, cigarettes--all the good stuff--and next thing you know, you're on the road to hell again.

Which brings me to some degree of wobbling now that I have maxed out four credit cards, have fights with the andlord and have a hard time reaching Google (probably my unpaid internet bill last month...Google has a way!).

This is getting scary.

Six years ago, I was homeless, living in a parking lot and on the make.

Never did lose those, er, skills.
I am still, like the French writer Celine, very alert, vigilant after my personal Second World War, sharp as a London cabdriver and his enormous left brain--the "hippocampus" that enables you to find things.

I swear I have natural GPS, and I can find a lost $20 bill just like that, and when I find lost driver's licenses or wallets I am the silver-tongued devil in fishing for a reward.

Even now, though ensconced in a lovely apartment well fed by good-natured Anglicans who took pity on an Anglicized Uke, I go for walks knowing that each acre of asphalt, each social encounter, has its economic prospects.

When I'm out walking, my eyes sweep left and right like a cyborg's: I am programmed to search for big 25-cent returnable beer bottles, taupe-coloured ten dollar bills (that like to blow in wet against a Zeller's wall in windstorms), green-and-red glints of still usable Bic lighters, brass-and-silver twoneys and looneys rolling out of recently parked cars like Johnnycakes. Furthermore, every discarded cigarette pack on the parking lot must be lightly trod upon, because I know for sure that the fifth one will still have five good ones in it.

The old hobo is still there, even in my spanking clean apartment. I roll stiff socks across the floor, wondering what puddle I'll wash them in when the washing machines are right there on the main floor.
In the company of the Mayor of Newmarket, I may stoop down a reach for a still serviceable cigarette butt.
At the Tim Horton's I fasten an old wad of chewing gum to the soles of my sandals, just in case someone drops a twenty.
I regard all men as lucky or unlucky-- hell with the Cancer lobby. The lucky ones can smoke, drink and fornicate like crazy until seventy-plus. The unlucky are the infant mortality set, held together by tubes and doctors-- those non-smokers, dental floss surfers, the abstainers who go to work every day for thirty years only to be eaten by a deranged bear in the middle of suburbia.

It wasn't always so.

I had lost my ability to survive by having a spouse who loved me too much, by giving me a hundred dollars a day to look for work. Who was looking already! She must have loved me a lot, because it took her ten years to throw the bum out.


Every morning the Bum Also Rises, even after the Bum has seen the light.
I am dressed in the standard middleclass attire of modified polo shirt, grey slacks, black Adidas, yet I cannot resist picking up a quarter on a street or a bus. "No need for a sweeper here," the driver breezes. "We've got one in the fourth seat from the back."

When I had the executive jobs I would often be overwhelmed by my own incompetence (Yes, the Bum would rise there and confront me with his accusations: "That was no nightmare about poverty last night--it was a dream of the future, YOUR future.")
The hopeless sense of incompetence came for having a technology lag going back some thirty years (I never caught on to computers, having my secretaries handle all that), and once installed in a newspaper office, I couldn't tell calculus from cabbageheads). They found out, and I was fired.

I really missed my spouse's C-notes to look for work with.

For a long four years, I scoured the parking lot and by the time regained my job as a teacher, I was too far gone in the head from sleeping out nights and drinking Vanilla Extract. I couldn't teach because a teacher couldn't be nuts.

Eventually, I landed a job as a furnace mechanic's helper.
Inevitably, my boss heard my life story. "When you get back there, stay up there," he said wisely as we drove back in the truck after a furnace repair where he'd taken out all the fail-safe circuits instead of properly reinstalling a burner.

I looked into the rear view mirror on the passenger side an saw a little Portuguese homeowner jumping up and down, smoke pouring out of the house, the chimney spewing H-bombs. "Don't look back," my boss advised wisely.

Maybe there's something to the "old" man rising after all. Maybe he's trying to tell you something.
My boss made a whole seventy thousand dollars that year, though he was as incompetent as dog poo. Lord, I thought I was incompetent!
Soon, he stopped paying his suppliers, picked up an expensive habit and left a lot more people jumping up and down in front of belching furnaces. Was Dante trying to tell us something?
Cynical in the old days, I would say "Beware of Florentines bearing gifts", but there's something to it, why else was I always trying to fix furnaces gone amuck.

It's that Old Man again.

I visit my old boss at the Rehab Centre quite a bit. "Don't look back," he mutters.
Easy for him to say.

I am back on the street again.
But this time successful. Kinda.

But there's always that Old Man. The Succubus.

Get down you bastard!

35 comments:

Donnetta Lee said...

Don't give in to it! Don't look back. Stay on top where you belong. And stick there like glue. Remember Humpty Dumpty. Nothing like a cracked egg. Somehow, you can never find all the parts.
Donnetta

Josie said...

Well, the first motto is never look back. You never know what might be gaining on you.

Ivan, you are just such a character! You remind me of someone out of a Steinbeck novel, either Tortilla Flat or Cannery Row. I'm sure you've read those. You may not see it from your perspective, but you are way more interesting than any of the run-of-the-mill, moderately successful (boring) people in the world. And you know you're brilliant. You're just a total character.

Josie

EA Monroe said...

It's a good thing you have natural GPS. Humm... I still pick up quarters and pennies and dimes and nickels and toss into the coin can. I found 10 bucks while walking San -- eyes on the street! You never know what sorts of economic prospects lurk there.

Hope you are well.

Give 'em hell, Ivan.

islandgrovepress said...

Josie,
I don't know what to say.

All flustered after your kind words.

But thank you.

Ivan

http://www.creativewriting.ca said...

Donnettta,

Thanks.

I have submitted a freelance piece to the local papers...See how that goes.
Gotta get a little power up...

Ivan

islandgrovepress said...

Liz,
I am going to phone my bank manager tomorrow, I think.

Happily, she's a female. :)

Ivan

Josie said...

Ivan, just popped over to say hello. How's by you, Boychik?

The sun has come out here. The temperatures have been in the single digit. Brrr.

http://www.creativewriting.ca said...

%%*###!!!

Ivan

http://www.creativewriting.ca said...

@#@%&@&@&@#&#&#&#&@%%%%@*%*%$#@*@*@*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*$***%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*% !!!

Josie said...

%%*###!!! to you too. Heh, heh.

Josie

leslie said...

If you succumb to the bum, all of us "quarks" are gonna come and drag you up by the short hairs! So beware! It'll be much more painful than what you're feeling now. :p

http://www.creativewriting.ca said...

Was in my cups.

%###%%%%!!!


Ivan

http://www.creativewriting.ca said...

Hi Leslie,
Good to see you around again.

Quite in the lap of the gods here.

Feel like the guy in front of the firing squad who was allowed to quote at some length from his favourite book.
Let's see now...

Aardvark: A small African mammal....

I got ants in my balcony garden.
...Should have gotten that aardvark while I had the chance.

Ivan

http://www.creativiewriting.ca said...

Hey Josie,

I just looked closely at the bum in my picture.

Notice the really ginchy broom skirt the dude is wearing.

Guess he couldn't find any pants. Hey.

Ivan

EA Monroe said...

Ivan, how did your encounter with the lady banker go?

http://www.creativewriting.ca said...

Morning, Liz,

That is still going on.

...I was surfing the web and was pleased to find that Ric Marion had you on his blogroll. I threw in a comment saying that I was glad to see E. A. Monroe up there.

Ivan

EA Monroe said...

Thanks, Ivan! I enjoy reading Ric Marion's blog.

islandgrovepress said...

He seems like such a nice guy.
Total gentleman.

You should see the effluent I sometimes spew on other people's blogs.
...And prove myself wrong by at least three typos in each para.

Like I might accuse sombody of being inclompetent! :)

Ivan

Josie said...

Ivan, I guess he's what you'd call Pretty in Pink. Ha!

http://www.creativewriting.ca said...

It's spring and the young folks are gay.

Ivan

leslie said...

Apparently there's a product on the market that gets rid of ants. Just sprinkle all around the perimeter of your house and they're gone. Also, I heard that you can put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it "home" and can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don't have to worry about pets or small children being harmed.

http://www.creativewriting.ca said...

Cornmeal, huh?

I know Donnetta has recommended an open container of peanut butter for the squirrels who keep chomping at my beans just come up.

I just realized I'd better go looking for a job too.

Damn pension is good for one long
debauch and that's about it.

Trouble is, I'm so old I remember the Battle of Hastings.

People lost more darn arrows!

Ivan

http://www.creativewriting.ca said...

Leslie,

I was going to comment on young
Gelarlow Wilson and his unconstitutional conviction over that sex thing(I do believe his case is being appealed).

Why I am going to comment here instead will become plain in a moment:

Apparently old hippie Chong (of Cheech and Chong) was asked to comment on the Paris Hilton prison term.
Said Chong:

What has she done? Has she killed anybody?
STEPHEN COBERT: She was driving without a licence after two counts of driving impaired.

CHONG: Is that so?
Why, if I were the judge I would take her over my knee, pull down her panties and give her such a licking.

I am transcribing from memory of
last week's Stephen Colbert show, but that's pretty well Chong's quote.
Adds Chong:
"And that's not all I would do, why..."

I'm just quotin' folks. Just quotin

:)

Ivan

Josie said...

Ivan, I should know better than to read your blog when I'm at work, and everyone is quiet. If just guffawed.

"Hey, what's so funny??"

http://www.creativewriting.ca said...

Heh heh.

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