December 28, 2009 by David Gillaspie
by David Gillaspie
Rules of Disengagement
Ethnic food at home featured two meals: white rice with tomato sauce and meatballs called Spanish rice for some reason, and chow mein out of the can called Chinese food. Either one is famous for turning good eaters finicky.
Back then the rule was to clean up your plate by eating everything on it, which meant outlasting everyone at the table before stuffing all the food into your mouth and running for the bathroom to spit it out. It shows you at least tasted it.
If cleaning up your plate is a big deal, and it was, then accidentally knocking it off the table only works once. After that you’re eating it off the floor. It leaves a lasting impression, one you don’t want to make on anyone else, but you notice things.
The same rules don’t apply at DG’s B&B. I’ve never served a meal to a paying guest. I’ve never had a paying guest and don’t intend to, but I’ve had other situations.
Being a friend means opening up your house when the need arises, doesn’t it? Since I’ve told all my friends that I’ve got a blog that’s called DG’s B&B, some have taken it literally. They don’t comment on my posts, or subscribe to my blog, but they’ve stayed over more than a couple of days.
One guest singled out DG’s B&B for special service.
You’ve all heard that divorce means choosing either the man or the woman as a friend? You can’t have both. The worst one I’ve been around let us off easy. The woman dumped everyone who knew her husband before they dumped her, and the guy was too in love to notice anything until it was too late. She’s on her third or fourth marriage so she knows the drill.
After the smoke cleared from the scorched earth divorce, Rick started dating again. Okay, he started online dating. He needed someone badly enough to give all pathways a good look. What he got was a variety of people who needed people, none of which were named Barbra.
I pointed him toward an alcoholic school teacher, but he didn’t go. I introduced him to a nudist who owns her own business, and he didn’t go. He complained about loneliness but didn’t date any of my suggestions. Then he found someone who needed him, and he needed her.
It happened one night. He found that special someone, that life-changer, and he did what he’d put off for so long. He decided to reduce his number of testicles to an even number. The way he explained it made sense.
“It’s simple, dude, I go in and get it taken out. It’s not even a testicle, it’s scar tissue. I’m not even worried that they might get me in, screw up the sleeping gas, and nearly kill me. You never read about stuff like that.”
I listened until he got to the part about recuperating at my house. He wanted me to take him to the hospital and pick him up and put him in one of my bedrooms for a few days. So I did.
It really was a B&B. Or maybe an R&R? Or a medical rehab? All three?
This is a man my age. I’ve known him for decades. We’ve never been roommates. I didn’t know that side of him, the prince side. I’m not saying he had purple pajamas and played guitar. I am calling his leaving a bite on a plate, a drink in a glass, more apple on the core, a waste. And he knew better.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for things you need. Food. Water. Clothing. But eat what you’re given. Don’t spill. And wear something clean in public, even if it’s only a living room.
Rick went home after a while and started dating his special one. He asked me to be his best man when they got married. It was a beautiful outdoor wedding full of familiar faces. His ex-wife was even there. Out of all the guys he knew, I was the best man. I heard a couple of them complain that they weren’t asked. I felt special.
After the usual best man duties, which I shared with the bride’s dog, the ceremony ended and the party began. After the party I hauled tables and chairs while the other guests relaxed and got ready to leave. It was funny seeing the old faces, but the labor part of best-manning created an unfamiliar distance. They looked at me as if I was hired to move tables.
Months later I asked Rick a favor. I asked if he would play in my band for a party. He didn’t call or text. He emailed me: “Sorry Dude, I’m bailin’, is all he said. If I was more mature I wouldn’t try to add up the reasons why he was obligated to play in my band, or dig a ditch, or cut a tree if I asked him.
All I asked was if he’d play in my band for a party. He said no after one practice. Does dude clean up his plate? No. Does dude act like a prince? He said he wouldn’t play in my band.
The real Prince would have said yes. The real Prince is a better friend. Scream it Prince,
“Honey, I know, I know, I know times are changin’
It’s time we all reach out for something new, that means you too
You say you want a leader, but you can’t seem to make up your mind
And I think you better close it and let me guide you to the purple rain.”