I Once Saved a Man’s Life

Have you ever heard the saying, “Boy, he is a chick-magnet.”  That’s me, a magnet.   Yep, I’m a magnet all right. Not a chick-magnet, but a wine-o magnet. The only way I know to describe, “It’s just a gift.” Been that way all my life. My wife, Rita, was the first one to bring it to my attention.  One day, she asked, “Have you ever noticed that when we’re in a crowd of people – in a mall, down town, at a festival, or wherever. Someone always comes up to you to bum a dollar, a cigarette, a stick of gum, or just ask you the time.” Up until then I thought being approached by alcohol breath smelling men was something that happened to everyone.

It was a beautiful sunny crisp December morning and Rita and I were downtown, having a fun time, Christmas shopping.  We had just left the toy store and we were walking down Main Street on our way to Rita’s favorite clothing store. When I saw him at a distance.  I told Rita, “Don’t look, he’s seen me and he’s coming this way.” Now, she knows from past experience that means, “Keep your head and eyes looking straight forward and walk quickly because a wine-o’s coming.” Sure enough, he must have been a good football field distance away, and someway, somehow, just a gift, I don’t know, he spotted me.  Out of all the other Christmas shoppers on Main Street, that December morning, he picks me. I don’t know if it’s my face, my body language, or maybe it’s because I remind him of someone that once loved him. His eyes are locked dead in on my eyes.  His eyes are open big and wide, he’s not blinking, not one time is he blinking. He’s traveling straight toward me, but he’s not walking straight. It’s like God is messing with him and he is jerking the earth back and forth beneath his feet. First to the left, then to the right, he looks like he could fall at any moment, but he keeps upright by swinging his arms like an Olympic speed skater with equilibrium problems. He’s determined, and nothing’s going to stop him from getting to me.

Finally, he stops about 10 feet directly in front, so I’ll have to walk straight into him if I don’t stop. Then he starts talking.  They all start out the same way.  Must be a wine-o 101 class that they all take at drunken colleges, because they all start the same way. “Hey buddy …  hey buddy … hey listen … listen to me buddy … hey look man, I need your help …. Listen to me man. So, I stop about 3 feet in front of him and I say with discuss in my voice, “Yea, what is it that you want?” So, he’s standing there wobbling back and forth, round and round, with the smell of cigarettes, and Budweiser on his breath. He reaches in his front paints pocket and comes our with a hand full of coins.  He opens his left hand palm up, and his right index finger he’s pushing coins around to show me how much money he has.  He looks at me with the saddest look I’ve ever seen on a man’s face, and in his slurred voice, he starts, “Hey buddy …. Listen…. I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve been drinking. In fact … I may be drunk. All I need from you is twenty six cents. That’s all I need  … just twenty six cents.” He is still moving coins around with his index finger.  “Look … my wife sent me to town, two hours ago, to get her a pair of panty hose.  I stopped at that bar around the corner and I’ve been drinking ever since.  I just went in that panty hose store across the street. (It was actually a major clothing store, but he called it a panty hose store.) and they tell me I don’t have enough money.  See … I drank her panty hose up. All I need is twenty six cents. If I go home late….. drunk …. and without her panty hose, she’s goin kill me. I’m serious … she’s going kill me … I mean it …kill me.”

So, I gave the guy a dollar and told him to keep the change because that was the best story I’d ever heard.  With a huge smile on his face he said, “Thank you buddy,” patted me on my back, and wobbled on across Main Street.  Rita and I went into a nearby store and stayed only a few minutes.  As we were coming back out of the store, I heard a familiar voice calling from across the street.  I looked and it was my new buddy…. still wobbling He was exiting the panty hose store, and he was happy with excitement.  Waving a small bag above his head, he shouting “Hey buddy … I got them … see.  I got them … thank you man, thank you…. you saved my life!”

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