A homeless man came up to me and, quite by surprise, gave me $100.
Let me explain.
Joe Coranado, the homeless guy who led the effort last September to paint my house, is no longer actually homeless - he has an townhouse apartment near Q and 16th. He's drinking quite a bit less too. But by both his estimate and mine, I overpaid him last fall, but I wasn't terribly worried about it. I figured I'd never see that money again, and I wasn't going to worry about it. But many months later, Joe still remembered. He tracked me down at Ron Cisneros' dance studio, called me out of class, and gave me a $100 bill. The only catch is that if times get hard again, say, sometime around Christmas, he wants somebody whom he might be able to touch for a little bit of cash. That's me. And so it goes, with debts of money and honor. Nice guy, Joe.
The homeless-guy painting crew was a real trip. I was lucky in getting a crew of mostly workaholic homeless guys (they really do exist: a hard-working but ill-organized gang of homeless guys). For example, "Dirty Steve" worked hard from sunup to dusk. People like "Irish" were a bit more of a problem. At one point, "Irish" was beginning to climb a ladder, and I thought, "What's wrong with this picture - a confirmed alcoholic with a bad leg standing precariously at the top of ladder, waving a paint brush around, on a blazing hot summer afternoon?" So we put "Irish" to work on something else.
Last November, Katherine Arthur's (and for a time too, my) cat, Ferguson, died. I promised to bury it. For a time, I drove around town with a dead cat in the back of my car, thinking to myself: "Not to stress too much about it, but eventually I'm going to have to bury this cat, or I'm going to be under even more stress. But no time! So I'll bury it when I can!" When burial day came, Joe Coranado happened upon me and helped me dig a hole for Ferguson's burial (right next to the small peach tree out back, under which Sylvie the cat is buried).
Joe was in a lot of pain as he dug the hole. He had been in a fistfight with several other homeless guys the night before, fighting side-by-side with "Irish" against former friends like "Dirty Steve". Joe had bruises on his head, his face, his ribs, and his hand was badly swollen, perhaps even broken. Joe put poor silent Ferguson in the hole, tamped the cat down with his foot, looked down at Ferguson, shook his head, and said "Shit Happens". I was aghast - what a horrible eulogy! Even a bad animal deserved better! But at least I understood where he was coming from. (If I die prematurely, Joe shouldn't preside over the funeral ceremony)......
Which reminds me of when Sylvie the cat died. The weather was warmer, so I put the cat in a translucent plastic grocery bag and put her away in the freezer. I left the house on a chore, but then Helga (who was renting the extra bedroom at the time and knew nothing about Sylvie's death) came home with her groceries, opened the freezer, and placed a gallon of sherbet right on top of chilly Sylvie! Funny in retrospect!
And I've seen "Irish" lately too. He's apparently got liver problems and he's looking less-healthy all the time. Looks like Joe and I might have to dig an extra-big hole before too long. And I worry about what Joe might say.....