Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Sole Good Deed of the Year

Every year, I try to do at least one good thing for one single person. The idea came to me based on an agonizing "conversation" I had with a blonde retard years ago about Buddhism or some such business. She was yammering on about karma and helping the world and being the change you wish to see and all I was thinking about was tying her to a tree and hurling rocks at her limbs. But this little verbal encounter resonated days later when I was punishing my liver with a cruddy microbrew or three: maybe the tart was onto something. Why not perform some positive acts to counteract all the bad ones I inevitably end up doing? That way when I'm at the pearly gates I can barter with whoever the hell is judging me: okay, it's true that I threw that bucket of cholera down the well and poisoned the town's drinking water for a hundred years, but remember how I gave those urchins begging for money some Canadian coins after I spit on them? Remember how I jump started that car for that old broad when I could have very easily driven off and given her the finger? Remember the lost child that begged for my help in finding his lost parents and how I couldn't find his parents after a five minute search so I gave him to some nice tattooed carnie folk? Heaven will understand.

The way I see it, the One Good Deed Per Year Plan is a sure-fire way for me to get those 72 virgins in the sky without blowing myself up at a farmer's market. And my chance to perform a good deed came a little while ago when a Japanese undergrad who goes by the nickname 'Cherry' - because her real name is like Chang Chong Bing Bong - was clearly Up Against It. She was basically squatting in a third-floor apartment I was (at the time) living in, eating the food I bought and drinking my (delicious, expensive) alcohol without asking. She's friends with one of my (then) roommates, and apparently she guilted my (then) roommate into letting her just hang around the place, only taking the time to leave when she had classes to attend and other people to harass.

A few Fridays ago, I was in-between my nightly ritual of washing down stomach medication with Rolling Rock and swatting at bed bugs with a cardboard tube, when I heard several not-very-kawaii yelps coming from the back patio. Annoyed by this noise, I trudged onto the patio with the cardboard tube in hand in order to swat and kill the creator of the offending sound ... it turns out it was Cherry, covered in a blanket and laying on the deck, crying. All around her were fragments of broken glass that originated from our (then) upstairs neighbor, an undergrad alcoholic whose idea of fun is tossing empty beer bottles out his window (throwing bottles : college students :: Apples 2 Apples : children). I noticed bits of glass were stuck in the bare soles of Cherry's feet and there were other bits dangerously close to her face. Annoyed (and a little dizzy), I decided to console her by screaming at her face.

Below is a rough idea of how our conversation went:

ME: What are you doing out here?
CHERRY: [mumbles something through the crying]
ME: GET THE HELL OFF THE FLOOR.
CHERRY: [mumbles something through the crying]
ME: GET THE HELL OFF THE FLOOR.
CHERRY: [mumbles something through the crying]

Realizing this was a waste of time, I told her I don't understand gibberish and went inside to sit down and watch SportsCenter. Needing an ear, she followed me in with her slightly cut up feet and sat down across from me. She quelled the crying long enough to tell me The Saga of Cherry and the Reasons for Her Sadness, which I didn't ask to hear. Her biological father died when she was nine or so. Her mother's an alcoholic. Her brother's in jail for stealing horses. She missed being home. She liked this one guy in her engineering class and took to chasing him around for a year but he wanted nothing to do with her. She didn't get along with her dorm-mate because, she claimed, she was "weird" and "always watching what I'm doing." She was running out of money for frivolous crap and couldn't ask her mother to send more. It was enough to make a golem crumble from worry.

ME: It's only going to get worse from now on.
CHERRY: [back to crying]
ME: You should probably kill yourself.
CHERRY: [still crying]

I figured out that my attempts to empathize and sympathize were meeting resistance. So I got a lot firmer and a lot louder. I explained how much of a useless bag she was. I told her her father probably killed himself out of disgust with her and her mother. I told her her mother was drinking out of shame and that alcoholism is inherited. I told her her brother was probably stealing the horses in order to rape them. I told her her engineering love interest was chain fucking the entire Korean Club. I told her she was a financial drain on her family and an emotional drain on her friends. I told her she was wasting my precious Xanax / Vicodin / whiskey / SportsCenter time.

CHERRY: You don't understand.
ME: I understand completely.
CHERRY: I don't know what to do.
ME: You should jump off the balcony.

She stopped talking and stopped crying. She got up and went to use the bathroom and hopefully wash the glass out of her size 2 feet. When she came back she told me she was going out. I told her that was a good choice and that she should never return. I figured she was going to buy strychnine or razor blades.

Hours passed, and at this point more people funneled into the apartment, including two Harvard Professors and their Bags of Special Blend Magic. I sat out back with them, smoked and bitched about Harvard ("the comparative literature department is weak compared to The University of Chicago"), the intricacies of the Persian language ("there's no 'she' because women don't exist to us, har har"), America's lack of culture ("oh, Godard, you grouch") and somehow that conversation segued into Brecht, Polish cinema and Cortázar's story about a man who vomits rabbits. Around 3 AM there was a tap on the patio window, startling us. It was Cherry, unfortunately alive and for some reason able to get back into the apartment even though, to my knowledge, no one ever gave her a key. She came over to me and asked me to step inside. I said no. She asked again, guaranteeing it would only be for a minute. I relented.

Once inside, Cherry placed her hand on my arm (uninvited) and thanked me profusely for helping her through a hard time. She was impossibly, incredibly intoxicated. I told her she had no right to ever touch me and that she needed to leave immediately. She said people just don't want to listen nowadays, and that it's refreshing to get some positive advice from someone's who's Been There. I told her she was very welcome and all but pushed her out of the apartment. She thanked me again and told me she owed me, so I closed the door on her. But immediately after I shut the door, hopefully to never see her again or maybe only have to glance at her obituary, I became suddenly alarmed by the power of my own wisdom and guidance. I was reminded that I have the power and ability to help someone when he/she is at his/her worst. It's about caring, and being there, and aiding one's fellow human in a Time of Need. I then locked the door and went back on the patio to re-light.

In other words, 2010's good deed is finished. And, no, I have no idea who set that dumpster on fire. Or who stole that unopened package from Amazon.com sitting in the hallway (seriously, who the hell buys workout videos?). Or who sent the male stripper to the Assistant Dean's office.

(Heaven, you paying attention?)