two kinds of fools (part 1)

PART ONE

***

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.            – Matthew 7 : 26

***

“I am just not afraid of looking like a fool,” she said, with fire and truth in her eyes. The statement floored me.

The night had gone in a completely unexpected direction. When we set out, we were headed to get some quick dinner before going to the grocery store. We jumped around the corner to the trendy sports restaurant nearby, and plopped ourselves down at the bar. As we were getting close to ordering, something started to prick in the back of my mind. Something as yet unperceived, something like a faint scraping noise sending shivers of annoyance chasing each other around my skin.

That is when i suddenly became aware of our newly acquired neighbor. i became aware of him because of the gratuitous f-bombs spewing out into his phone. He was covered in ink, wearing an athletic jersey and cargo shorts and sporting exorbitant dreadlocks. He was livid, and his rage was seeping into me and starting to rub off on me a little.

“This guy is starting to annoy me,” i mentioned to my wife. i had no intention of eavesdropping, and in fact fully desired to ignore him completely, but his volume and proximity made that impossible. i am sure my wife could see the bother creeping up in me, lurking and inflating and getting ready to burst. But then i started to catch a few pieces of his story, and it became increasingly obvious that something fairly serious was going on. He was moving out of his house that very evening, and because of a severed relationship, or so i could glean. i related these tidbits to my wife, sympathy already starting to gear up for battle against irritation in my heart. My wife called charge.

“You should ask him if he is ok.”

Um…really? This guy seems pretty furious…

“No one is sitting a a bar alone drinking and talking like that if something is not seriously wrong.”

She was right, and i knew it, and the more i thought about it the more it started to seem that i was probably put right next to him specifically to do that.

So i did. A few seconds later he hung up the phone, and i asked him if he was ok.

“Not really.” And he proceeded to tell me a fairly tragic story about how he was living here in Austin with his mother, who was apparently a meth addict, who had recently split up with her boyfriend (also a meth addict) and was taking her rage out on him. He in turn was cutting her out of his life, he said, and taking a plane that evening to Oakland with, apparently, a bag full of weed which he planned to sell to make a living.

We talked for hours. Some of what he said may have been true, some of it not, but whatever part of the story was accurate was heartbreaking, and if anything wasn’t it was probably fabricated to cover up something equally if not more heartbreaking. i learned, among other things, his name, his age, and a great deal of his story. He was 24 years old, a convicted felon, a drug user, a dope slinger, and yet somehow he believed that if he thought anything hard enough, if he imagined it strongly enough that he could make it come to pass.

From an outsiders perspective, it seemed that it was either not working, or he was just imagining the wrong things.

***

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