Part of the LoveJoy Series (scroll down two flights- to take it from the top)
There is a cartoon I remember as a kid, featuring spike (a large bull dog) and his side kick, some little rat dog that had attached itself to this great white beast with the confidence of a blood hound tic, squatty little legs, and the “made for a fly swatter” personality of a chihuahua.
Typical mismatch of a slightly dim, intellectually unburnished schoolyard bully and his evil twin handler, patrolling the schoolyard in the late afternoon, trolling for stragglers and easy pick en’s.
Spike the alpha, provides the muscle but endures poking, prodding, and is egged on mercilessly by the rat dog, and as it turns out, spike really isn’t all that spikey. More so, the rat dog is the real protagonist in this saga of Mutt and Jeff personalities and basically carries the leash.
So here in my new castle in the great north west, I had my own version of Spike and Rat dog for housemates in the room next door. Wino Mike and big jawed Steve. That was what lay behind door number one.
Hidden behind door number two was the front lawn trio I had encountered so often when making my way down the LoveJoy sidewalk. I never did get which of the three had the resources to lease the room, or if by some stray act of kindness some unknown benefactor had stepped up to the plate, but yes indeed, the rough and ready jungle was rooted right next door.
Honestly? I don’t think they ever recognized me. I know they saw me as very different from themselves, I wasn’t really the “street bro that had their backs” so to speak, I was just a fresh faced kid that dressed up in a whitish gray herringbone suit jacket setting out early in the mornings to try to find work in down town Portland.
So nature has it’s way and cream floats to the top right?
I wouldn’t say so looking back and not forgetting how bad things were. It was less than 1980, there was a recession in full swing, any one without a particular song to flourish by was doomed to whatever obscure second choice was left on the dinner table. College was still on the back side of the menu. The post Vietnam stuff mixed it into a cloudy mess, a bowl of soup that salted everyone’s vision and tended to tempt away individual courage.
And then there was the latest crop of 18 year olds. An abundance of youth and the newest journey yet, trying to figure out what happened to the spirit that took us to the moon and bypassed the gun. There was more to it than skipping breakfast, avoiding a cereal box of carnage, and pursuing songs as an alternative to living life.
War had passed but the past was war, so it became a waiting game against facing reality, but again not really a game. It was becoming abundantly clear that the product of living could not be reconciled on a balance sheet, the scales don’t tip as a cumulative function of ones actions. Changing your fate is a tricky business and for the most part requires intrepid action and steadiness of conviction. But some times, just sometimes- plain and painful ignorance “dumb luck” as some would have it, can get you a little further ride.
So taken in that context, I must say I was truly in the middle of a grove of lost souls of which I think I was one- or about to become one. One shouldn’t walk away from the odd and unexpected crossroads that further separates us from childhood in life’s table of circumstance, so I did what still came natural… I said hi, and introduced myself to my new housemates.