Tag Archives: Friendship

Life’s Rich Knots

Your Friend’s Problems

A friend of mine allowed a 35-year-old man to park his RV on her property and hook up to her facilities in return for the completion of an agreed-upon punch list of work. The man had broken up with his wife and lost his job and blah blah boo hoo.

Six months later he has yet to fulfill his obligations and my friend claims she has asked him to leave. Since his truck is in a thousand pieces in her garage, I don’t see this happening without a sheriff.

I disliked him from the first day I met him. He’s a pathological know-it-all with the personality of a blister. He talks about himself obsessively, borrows my friend’s car, and walks into her house anytime he pleases. As he’s sucking up her electricity and hot water using her washer and dryer, he’s complaining about her cigarette smoke. I was curt with him until, in respect to my friend’s wishes, she asked for my cooperation.

A month ago he reconciled with his wife and moved her in without first asking permission. The wife does nothing but sleep and assist her husband in relating pathetic tales of woe. They are accomplished con artists.

I have since stopped speaking to him and his self-aggrandizing logorrhea is met only by my cold glare. My friend does not want to provoke them, so I must seethe quietly. At times I must get up and leave or I will explode in fury.

Our role in a friendship is often difficult to define. Is a friend’s job to empathize, yet remain a detached third party? Isn’t it natural to feel outrage when a friend reports exploitation or abuse? But at whom—the abuser or the victim? Maybe some people have a subconscious desire to be a doormat, or maybe I do not know how to be a friend.

Subscriber Button Drama

WordPress keeps trying to social-mediatize us. They took the Subscribe by email button off and replaced it with Follow at the top of the page. So many people complained that they returned the subscribe button, but with an obnoxious update—it announced to the world how many subscribers you have. Blogging is not Facebook. We are not here to play Farmville or Mafia Wars or endure the anxiety of publicly accumulating “followers.” Many blogs are specialized, personal outlets, and discussion is our goal. How many subscribers we have is nobody’s business but our own. I just now noticed that the number of subscribers information is gone, so thank you WordPress for listening to your flock.

A Little Antidote

I once worked for two Connecticut veterinarians. They were specialists in conditions other vets were stumped by, and charged usurious fees for consultations. One day as I was assisting one of the doctors in a poisoning case, he said to the client, “don’t worry, we’ll find the right anecdote.” I didn’t understand how relating a clever account of a humorous incident would help the dog one bit.

Hoarder of History

I used to think that if a person’s passions didn’t include rescuing animals, abused  kids, oceans, forests or swamps, that somehow those passions were not valid. Many people collect items that seem useless to me, Hummels or baseball cards or beanie babies or dolls. I have always hated dolls.

Hogan’s passion for old cars began when he was a kid in the ’50s. He spent his youth in California and moved to Bisbee 30 years ago. He bought a piece of property and has been packing it with old cars ever since. The house is the least of his priorities, it serves him in the same way a bear uses a cave.

Hogan doesn’t care much for material things unless they form part of a primitive machine. He owns a vintage car lot, but freely admits he’s a hoarder. At first you think his only obsession is cars, but then find he’s a master gardener and avid reader of nonfiction. His house is scruffy like most are around here, but his yard is full of robust trees and flowers, all lovingly tended by a man who much prefers outdoors to in.

He’ll drive 300 miles to pick up a car he likes. The idea behind the vintage car business was to restore and sell them, but mostly they just pile up in his lots, and other collectors buy them for parts.

Hogan is a welder, mechanic, builder of block walls and creator of amazing railings, gates, and brick stairways. He has no fear of broken things but hates computers. We’re on an honor system here, if we need help he’s there for us, and in return we keep his computer running and I photograph his cars and email to prospective customers. He helps everyone from elderly neighbors to friends in need. He often forgets to eat and weighs the same as he did when he was a teenager. I have never seen him sick.

His younger days were full of adventure, traveling the world and jumping out of airplanes for colorful reasons. But his main passion has always been cars.

Last week I spent a day roaming the lots with my camera. It was then I realized the importance of his passion. These fragments of history could have easily ended up in a crusher or rotting in a field. But they are safe, and his grown children (who do not live here) will inherit them and have promised not to destroy them. But he has no plans to retire. He’s much more than a car buff—he’s a curator of an era.

Here are just a few samples of the hundreds on cars on his lots. He can be contacted at hoganheck (at) gmail (dot) com or through me.

1930 Model A

1936 Chrysler Airflow

1953 Hudson Hornet Twin H Power

1959 Buick Le Sabre. The age of fins—the bigger the better.

1949 Pontiac Silver Streak

1949 Pontiac Silver Streak logo

1951 Ford Victoria hood ornament

1952 Buick 8 Special 2 Coupe

1952 Buick 8 Special hood ornament

1955 Ford F250 pickup. These trucks have been around a long time for a reason. Our 1971 F250 never fails us, and many older ones are still on the road here.

Driver’s seat in 1954 Studebaker truck

1954 Dodge Royal V8 hood

Who knew VW bugs were stackable? Handy when space is tight.

1961 Studebaker Lark VI

1950 Nash Airflyte

He has a system, honest.

On break in the early ’60s in Escondido, CA

Hogan today, just as cute as ever

You don’t want to be messing around in the lots when Hogan’s not there!

Shepherd on guard

Hogan’s artistry in building stairs. These were made from recycled bricks from a torn-down building.

Hogan’s T-shirt says it all

The Lucky Losers

Libby and I met around age 14 and became inseparable, two refugees searching for a comrade. We devoured and endlessly discussed adult fiction, made our own clothes (everything had to have fringe), rescued animals, and got into trouble but never hurt anybody. We were used to taking care of ourselves—I think we were born tiny adults, like a couple precocial quail chicks. Libby lived with her parents who were always at each other’s throats, and a sister who was mean as a snake. We had a lot in common. Maybe fewer cops showed up at her house, and maybe she never had most of her hair ripped out, but her sister once dented a silver tray on poor Lib’s head.

We were sort of pre-Goth. We walked or hitchhiked everywhere, stayed out all night, got on buses to New York or Boston—we had a lot of freedom in those days and neither of us wanted to go home. In 9th grade my mother sent to me to a Catholic girls’ school to break us up but it didn’t work, we met every day after school. I lasted a year there, then went back to regular high school where we somehow made it through together. After high school I bummed around the US for a year by myself, but when I came back it was like I never left. We moved in together and shared clothes, money, boyfriends. We drove around the country whenever we had time off, exploring back roads from New England to Appalachia. No cell phones, computers, video games, VCR, or cable TV. No answering machine or microwave. Instead, we worked, read, traveled, camped, partied, danced, and talked to each other nonstop.

When we were 23 Libs met a guy and fell in love, got pregnant, married, and moved to a southern state for his job. It all happened so fast—I cried and cried, grieving in a way I had never experienced before. The day I watched Lib’s old Dodge that had carried us on so many adventures disappear into a grey blur, I knew I would have to learn to be a friend to myself. It took many years and many mistakes.

I visited Libs but the magic was gone, she was now a devoted wife and mother but a stranger to me—in all the years we spent together we never once fantasized about getting married or having kids. I wrote letters, she didn’t answer. I never saw her again. Her kids are grown up now, maybe she’s even a grandmother. But the Libby years are still sacred—I still dream about her and I’m thankful for what we had, as I believe she saved my life.

Note: The name is changed but the story is true, written as therapy and maybe just to set it free.