Friday, March 11, 2011

A Disjointed Friday

Bart, Jim and Bob - my longtime friends in the woods outside Georgetown, DE

Lots going on today folks.  The day started out with a visit to my friends Bob and Jim.  I haven't visited them for a while.  I'm ashamed to admit it but it's because both of them are deteriorating mentally and I just can't handle it. I would make a terrible nurse.  I just don't have the patience and forbearance to stay around my friends for any length of time.  I get too stressed out.  I feel like they're pulling me down much like someone trying to save a drowning man is pulled down by the same drowning man.

The purpose of the visit was to find out where they were having their weekly breakfast.  I used to join them for their weekly Saturday morning breakfast but I stopped a few years ago because I couldn't tolerate their boorish friend Bart.  Bart is one of these older gay guys (he's 89) who is gay but also homophobic.  He also has a talking problem.  I believe the condition is called logorrhea.  It's probably no coincidence that the word sounds likes diarrhea.   He can't stop talking.  The same stories, plus he laughs at his own jokes.  When Bart is in the building, no one gets a word in edgewise.  That's Bart, I have no patience with people like him.  I'm no saint, and I will be the first to admit it.

A friend, Jim and Bob (I took the picture)
At Whisker's in 2004 - back when I used to do the Saturday morning breakfast

Again, the purpose of the visit was to find out what restaurant they were now meeting because a longtime mutual friend is visiting them tomorrow.  I haven't seen this friend for over twenty-five years and I would like to see him again.  I knew this guy (Tommy M.) even BEFORE I met Bill and I met Bill forty-seven years ago!  Tommy was the manager of the gay bar where Bill and I met, the Westbury Bar at 15th and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia. 

The old Westbury Bar where I met Bill - now a DRUGSTORE!

I asked Bob what the name of the restaurant was.  He said "I don't know but it's a diner on 24."  Translated that means "it is a restaurant (there are no diners down here) on Route 24."  I asked him could he provide some more information. He said "It's near the new Catholic Church." Uh huh, BIG HELP, I have no idea where there is ANY Catholic church on 24.  I told him "I'll need a little more information than that Bob.  I have trouble finding a named restaurant let alone a 'diner on 24'." My friend Bob couldn't provide any more information so I decided to take a trip down the trash strewn roads to his place in the woods outside of Georgetown.  I would put him (and Jim) in my car and we would take a ride to this "diner on 24."  

We found it.  All he had to tell me was that it was next to the American Legion Post 28, where I go all the time.  He could also have told me that it was across the street from the Royal Dairy Farms where I often get gas.  But no, I get "It's a diner on 24 next to the new Catholic church."

Let me backtrack here.  When I arrived at their double-wide, our friend Bart comes in the door for a visit.  Oh joy.  I suspected that Jim called Bart and suggested that he come over and make nice so I would join them for breakfast tomorrow.  I have to admit that Bart tried to be normal.  But he can't help himself.  He wasn't there five minutes before I started to slip into a stupor after hearing yet again one of his "I remember when" stories.  Will someone please take me out back and shoot me if I ever turn into a Bart?  Please.

Notice the picture of Bart with his finger up his nose.  I've lost count of the number of pictures I have of Bart with his finger up his nose.  When I took this picture I asked him "Now Bart don't stick your finger up your nose."  Uh huh, he sticks his finger up his nose.  I have another former gay friend who, every time I took his picture he gave me the middle finger.  Note, I said a FORMER friend.  So Bart didn't let me down today and did what he thought was funny. So predictable.

Bart with his trademark 'finger up his nose' from 10 years ago!

I'm going to breakfast tomorrow with the guys.  I've been invited to dinner with them at Cracker Barrel, or as my friend Bob calls it "the rocking chair place."  Poor Bob, he has no memory for names at all these days. 

I probably shouldn't keep putting myself into these situations, trying to renew friendships the way they used to be.  Bob was my best friend since our Army days in 1960.  Bob is the reason I live in Delaware. I used to visit him throughout the 70's, 80's and 90's.  I decided I liked Delaware so much that I would retire here and enjoy the company of my friends and the benefits of a state that was tax friendly to senior citizens.  What I didn't count on was my friends' mental decline. I guess I should be more tolerant about all this but I just can't.  I'm no Florence Nightengale, that's for sure. 

Me and Bob back in the Good Old Days (1980 Philadelphia)

The good news today was that I ordered my new iPad.  I also made arrangements to have a colonoscopy.  I don't know if those two items are related but after this morning's experience (and a bad lunch at a formerly favorite place - the Georgetown Airport Grill), I needed to feel like I accomplished something today.  

An awful lunch at the Georgetown Airport Grill - can you tell?
Again, I make reference to my friend Don V.'s blog which is titled "My Life as a Saga." 

Tell me about it.  


Will J said...

"...trying to renew friendships the way they used to be."

Therein lies the rub. It sounds like you have to be thankful for what they added to your life and accept them where and as they are now. There is sadness and mourning - the way you knew them is drifting away little by little and day by day. (I'm struck by the last 2 photos - what a difference in 10 years).

Accept your discomfort too -- you know that you would not be a good nurse because you are not made that way. You know better than to try to be what you are not. This is all uncomfortable and painful because you care. Indifference would be worse. You will deal with it in your own way.

BTW There is a special place for people like Bart -- and it is far, far, away from me.

nitewrit said...


Well, you should tolerate any old friend's mental decline. Look at how much I tolerate yours. :)


Ron said...

Thank you for your comment. It is right on the mark. My brother, who is a care pastor and has seen dementia many times, told me "Ronnie, it isn't going to get any better." We saw the same thing happening with my Mother, who died this past September. She wasn't the same person when she died that we knew most of our lives. The same thing is happening with my friends Bob and Jim. I guess I'm hoping they will snap out of it but it isn't happening. Every time I see them, they're worse. And Bart, the story on him is that Jim and Bart used to be lovers years ago. Bart has no friend (I wonder why) and Jim feels sorry for him. I used to feel sorry for him but his homophobia, crazy right wing attitude and selfishness ruined whatever sympathy I had for him. I feel nothing for him and want to stay away from him. He is a bitter old man. I'm still debating whether or not I will go to breakfast tomorrow. I do want to see my friend that I haven't seen for over 20 years. I'll probably go.

Ron said...

Funny, Lar! Actually I do 'tolerate" Bob's mental decline. I'm just sad about it. What I really have a hard time with is them always bringing the bitter old man along in their outings. He's the one I have a hard time tolerating.

D said...

I'm getting older now, and coincidentally, coming out in Philly when I was 21... I sometimes go out when I'm in town running into people from the 'good ole days'... it never seems to be the same... fun times just happen, you can't plan them. Sadly sometimes, it does seem to be the same... people standing in the same spot from 20 years ago. Thanks for the walk down memory lane

Ur-spo said...

dear me
I have mixed feelings for you
I don't see much good hanging out with friends who vex or bring you down. Yet, I too would struggle with loyalty of the ages, 'for better or worse'.
I deal with motor mouths all day, so hanging out with more in my spare time doesn't sound like a break !

Mark said...

I love old friends. They're the best! My highs school reunion is this year and although a lot of them got on my nerves, I can't wait to see them. But I also enjoy new friends. Speaking of, I'll be seeing you soon.
Your Friend, m.

Ron said...


Thank you for your comment. I put value on your advice. Tonight we all went out to dinner. Normally I wouldn't go out with Bob, Jim and Bart just because it is too stressful. But tonight Tommy and Howard joined us. I haven't seen them in over 20 years. We had a great reunion which was partly brought down by Jim. Bart (the Motormouth) was actually okay for a change. But Jim belongs in the nut ward of a nursing home. Bob is totally out of it, sitting across the table, slack jawed, playing with his food trying to get it into his mouth without half of it falling on the table. Then Jim made a big deal over the bill (too expensive which it wasn't) and the tip (too much which it wasn't). I made the decision this is the last time I dine out with them. I don't have that much time left in this world to put up with these two. I wish I was a better person and could let this stuff slide off my back but I will not let these two drag me down with them.

Ron said...

Years from now you will look back on this time and wonder where the time went. That's how I feel now. Tonight I had dinner with two old friends that I haven't seen in over 20 years. One I recognized immediately. The significant difference I could detect was that he has all white hair now. But he still has a full head of hair and his eyes still have that old sparkle even though he is 81 years old. The other friend I didn't recognize at all even after he identified himself. Once he talked I could recognize his voice but not his appearance. He put on a lot of weight and lost most of his hair. HIs appearance is totally different. Of course both of them recognized me. I weigh the same, hairline has receded but I still have hair and most of it is still dark with only a few gray hairs. A lot more wrinkles though but that doesn't bother me. I really enjoyed seeing my old friends again tonight. Time goes by so fast. Make the most of your time David. Don't put off until tomorrow if you can do it today. Too soon you will be old and then you'll be taking trips down Memory Lane like me. :)

Ron said...

I agree with you Mark, reuniting with old friends is the best! One of the many advantages of getting older. You have that mutual history.