December 27, 2009 by David Gillaspie
What started as a device became a reality. The pretend bed and breakfast that exists in blog form has had visitors, which isn’t to say we’ve never had visitors before I invented DG’s B&B. Regular visitors from LA days; a grandma and grandpa raising their grandson; my Mom before she fell down the stairs.
The steps are daunting because no one sleeps on the ground floor. It’s either upstairs or downstairs. Upstairs means slippery oak and a twin bed; downstairs is carpeting with a pull-out couch.
One New Years produced three unknown college girls puking in buckets with their guys holding their hair back. The next morning wasn’t any prettier. What the girls saw as regular college stuff, drinking and dancing and puking and passing out on a couch they’ve never seen in a house they’ve never been in, then getting up for breakfast, seemed dangerous. But not at a b&b. That should have given me a clue.
I made everyone pancakes and eggs to start the New Year on the right foot, the one that wasn’t hurled on. A year later the wife stays up playing beer pong with the college gang. She seemed to fit in. Real well. She made it up the slippery oak stairs. The next morning came at the crack of noon for her.
Some have come for relief, some for mending. Some come as planned, some a surprise.
Some stays come from compassion. A confused friend’s life turned upside down, shaken not stirred, then slammed into a blender that runs non-stop. She sounded suicidal. This was a woman who needed a moment that she wasn’t willing to give herself.
Ordinarily I leave people in a manic state alone if I’m not the cause. A guy can only do so much fire suppression. I tried convincing her I was a good cook, that she should stay for breakfast. The last time I acted so friendly to a woman who was not my wife, it didn’t turn out well.
I admit to pleading with my wife’s ex-friend to not become an ex-friend. I knew how much my wife valued her friendship. I pleaded and she thought it was because I had the hots for her. Mine wasn’t a very effective whine to preserve a friendship. I definitely struck a nerve, just the wrong one. My only excuse is it was my first attempt to reach the height of friendship preserving whine.
It wasn’t the same with the distraught woman. Marriage was failing her, a son was pushing her, and she had a twitch.
I came downstairs and found Loni carrying her bags to her car.
“I’m making breakfast. Jane’s already gone to work.”
“I’ve, I’ve, you know, you shouldn’t, I’ve got to, ah, you know.”
“Right. Scrambled eggs and toast in about seven minutes.”
“I can’t, really, I’m not hungry, you know, I don’t wake up hungry like some do, I’m just different like that.”
“Whole wheat toast, Dave’s Killer bread. You’ll love it. Look at the package.”
“Sure, Killer bread, the guy Dave says he’s been in prison? This is prison bread and he looks like he pumped iron in the yard. He’s huge.”
“Look at his guitar. Dave from Dave’s Killer Bread went to prison and played guitar, worked out, and made bread. Makes you wonder what he was in for, doesn’t it?”
“I don’t, well, no it doesn’t matter, you know, it’s not important like that.”
“Would you buy it if it was called Killer Dave’s Bread?”
“I’ve never bought either one, but it wouldn’t matter, not like its called Dave The Murderer’s Killer Bread.”
“No, it’s not that.”
“Or maybe he has killer chops on his ax, which, yeah, I know, sounds gruesome, like now he’s an ax murderer or something instead of a humble baker.”
“Dude’s got six kinds of bread. He’s a marketing machine. And looks like he’s got a ponytail. Didn’t cut his hair. How cool is that.”
“Maybe I could stay for breakfast. You said seven minutes, didn’t you?”
“Starting, starting, starting, starting, right now.”
She is an utterly charming and sophisticated woman with a depth so rare, yet tormented by visions of who she’s supposed to be and what she’s supposed to do.
She’s taken enough hits doing things the way she’s always done them to warrant trying something else. She’s thin as a stick, gets dizzy, won’t eat on a regular schedule. Her face is a work of art, weathering into the sort of gaze found in Renaissance beauty.
Her troubles are real and I try to remind her they don’t all increase with each passing second. She seemed to like that idea.
“Do you believe in choice? You do believe in choice? If you do, then choose happiness,” I said.
“I believe, like I believe in doing, you know, doing the right thing. I see, I know what you mean. You mean grow a pair and man-up, don’t you? Isn’t that what everyone is supposed to do?”
“Have you ever done it?”
“I’ve tried, you know, done something, like, uh. No, I haven’t.”
“Why not try something different then. Shock your loved ones into listening by telling them what you feel.”
“Don’t you think, maybe, that it’s too late, you know, to change spots?”
“Look in the mirror, you’re not a leopard, you can change. But there’s a price.”
“A price, like money, is that it, money? I can change but I have to pay?”
“Bruce said it best. It’s in a song from the seventies, one of his big albums. He said, “Let the broken hearts lay is the price you’ve got to pay.” Do you know what he’s talking about?”
The eggs and the toast hit the plate together.
“I don’t listen to much Bruce. You mean Bruce Springsteen don’t you?”
“Bruce tells us to live our lives the best we can and use that example to help others live the best life they can. It’s not your fault if they don’t get it. It’s not your fault. Let the broken hearts lay is the price you have to pay. Or you can spend your time tying to piece a puzzle together when you know parts are missing.”
“Did Bruce say that, too?”
“No, it’s what I heard him say between the lines.”