Sunday, January 5, 2014

Iggy Was Lonely And He Needed Some Friends (even if they were strange and unusual)

Iggy moved to Greenwich Village, NYC, completely by himself without knowing anyone who lived there.  He had no family and no friends in his neighborhood, so he did what anybody in his situation would do:  he headed for the welcoming arch of Washington Square Park and then to the large, circular fountain. When he sat down at the edge, a voice startled him:

“Great day for a swim, wouldn’t you say?”  A middle-aged man wearing filthy, tattered clothes and ripped shoes with his toes hanging out stood before Iggy, pointing at the fountain.
Iggy looked at him, confused.  “Yeah, I guess.”

The man sat beside him.  He had a short, closely-shaved haircut and smelled just like Iggy’s jacket did when he sat on the bus too much without washing it.  Iggy slid a few inches over, keeping a tolerable distance.

“Why don’t you jump in?” The man said, still looking at the fountain.
Iggy laughed under his breath.  “I don’t think so,” he said.
“My name’s Tom, what’s yours?”

Iggy didn't know it yet, but he had officially made his first friend. 

Iggy always felt like an outsider. He was always away from the action where everything happened, always looking in. When he met Tom, he didn't care that Tom had no money or even a place to live.  He cared that Tom seemed genuine when he spoke to him.  He cared that Tom spoke to him at all. 

“Are you usually here?” Iggy asked.
“I’m always here.” 
Iggy didn’t know what to say to the strange man.  He felt uncomfortable and wanted to leave.  “Look, I’ve got to go,” he said.
The man lifted his head weakly and held out his soiled hand.  “My name’s Tom, what’s yours?”

The next morning, Iggy passed through Washington Square Park and looked for Tom again.  Tom spotted Iggy sitting on the edge of the fountain and asked Iggy to meet his 'roommate.'  Joe was more a resident of this planet than Tom was, and he told Iggy that he "used to have a joint over on 14th Street," but then one day got kicked out because he couldn't pay his rent "no more," adding that "life's a bitch."

Later in the story, Tom wound up in the "looney bin," but Joe and Iggy remained friends.  Iggy had just started his new job working at a punk clothing store called 'Caterpillar,' but he hated his job and called in sick one day just because he was tired, depressed, and didn't feel like going in.  Joe admonished Iggy as a concerned dad would and then told him the story of how he once quit his job on Wall Street and sold everything he had in order to buy a space to set up his own store where all the "rich ladies" shopped. His first year was good, but by the next year, he'd lost everything because he didn't have anyone to help him with "the books." Iggy asked him why he didn't just ask for his old job on Wall Street back:

Joe leaned back again and plucked a piece of grass from out of the ground.  He examined it. 
“I didn’t want to.  I figured, what for?  If that’s the way life wants to treat me, then why should I?  Better to be a bum on the street.  At least I’d know what’s in store for me.”  Joe looked into Iggy’s eyes.  “No expectations, no disappointments.”  
Joe's story served as a cautionary tale to Iggy.  The next day, he followed Joe's advice and went back to work with a better attitude.  Seemed as though Joe was an odd person for Iggy to take advice from since he was not a functioning member of society, much less a member of the workforce.  But Joe was something that was more important to Iggy.  Something rare and unusual.  Joe was a friend.

 "Iggy Gorgess" novel will be released in early 2014.


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