Homelessness and My Friend Eugene

Over the past couple weeks I have blogged about this elderly man named Eugene.  I met him outside the store where I go get my coffee to begin the Maniac’s Hours or now even Corey’s Chronicles hours, as it would be today.  Writing at 3 pm to 7 pm is so new to me.  I don’t have a routine and I am ill equipped without my golden elixir…..oh wait I have one more Adderall left for today. I just went and got coffee, so I will now ingest my second golden elixir of the day.

In anticipation of Corey’s Chronicles hours, I grabbed Julia Bleu around 2:40 pm. We were running behind, but I knew I needed a coffee, and so much more fatefully awaited my second trip to the store in not so many hours.  Waiting outside sitting all by himself, was Eugene, my friend who is homeless; who I promised to help out.  I don’t think I have ever quite showed such ignorance, when I blogged about the epidemic of homelessness and suggested a fucked up pretentious idea; wait till I finish my PhD to sit at a table and discuss the plight of homelessness without ever getting dirty. I am so grateful that Eugene knows nothing of my blogs, it would have ended our still precarious friendship for sure.

The night I met Eugene, he was right where I found him sitting this afternoon.  On the ledge of the store, sort of sheltered from the elements, perhaps just a bit.  I offered to buy Eugene whatever he wanted to eat and drink, and that was pretty much that. It was my first encounter with a homeless person I chose to acknowledge.  BIG shame on me, I try so hard to live my life always thinking of others, yet the homeless folks had not hit my radar until I met Eugene.  I will always remember this man, for many reasons, but the funniest one is when he thanked me for the food and drink that night, he retorted with just a middle sneer, “I have never thanked a faggot before.”  I stopped and held my pug back and said straight to him, “Faggots, and transgendered folks, as well African American…..” “I get your point smart boy, it is just a word.”  I left it there for the evening, thinking both Eugene and I had much teaching to do for the other.  I promised I would look for him and always help him out.

It’s been many days and nights since I last saw him.  Today in the bright sunlight, I got a better look at him up close. He did the same, and said with a snarl, “Are you just a pretty boy?”  I replied with a smile, “Something like that I guess you could say.”  “Hey” he said, “I have a question for you. I really am all set with food and drink but I could really use a phone card.  I want to call my daughter on Sunday and wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.”  I fought back the tears of overwhelming something, I can’t explain, but all this elderly man wanted was to speak to his daughter.  I said, Eugene I have an idea.  Do you have a library card do you ever go there?  “Well yes I go to the library, I go every week,” Okay,”  I said,  “Let’s go inside and buy you a card.  Eugene I know exactly which one you need.”  I went to the rack of pre-paid phones, and picked up a Trac-phone, which tripled your minutes every time you reloaded it.  I picked up a 60 minute card for him.  “Oh no, I cant afford to have a phone.” “Eugene all you need is a place to charge it in.  Don’t you go have meals at the Friendly Kitchen? “Yes, he stammered, “I am going there tonight.”  “Perfect,” I said, “You can fully charge it there. I went on to explain he could charge his phone at the library and all the soup kitchens he went to.  I told him I wanted him to have a number where I could reach him.  “What for?” he snapped.  I said, “So I can call you and make plans to meet. I promised the first time I would help you out whenever I ran into you  here.  This is better, you can call you daughter, and whomever else you like.  Let me just pay for this, and will you come to my house down the street so I can set up your phone?”  “Do you live with anybody, I don’t want any trouble.”  “Just my daughter and tonight she is not going to be there.  My friend Stephanie is there, but I already told her all about you; she will be so glad to meet you.” ” Come on,” I said, “Let’s go I really don’t have a ton of time.”

So off we went, in the direction of my house.  No I am not stupid, I realize I don’t know him from Adam or if he has a shady history.  We got to the house and I yelled up to my Stephanie, “Honey Eugene is here we are on the porch setting up his new phone.” “Oh, I will be right out there, Does anyone need something to drink?” “Eugene, I said, “Do you need to use the restroom?”  “No I am all set, just worried I might miss dinner.”  I let him know that I was charging up his phone, I put my number in it, and loaded the minutes. “Eugene I am just about done, and Stephanie and I will run you to the church. That’s our church we go there every Sunday.”  “Is this going to be hard, I don’t now nothing about these phones.”  “No,” I said, “It is easy I will show you on the way to drop you at dinner.”

Stephanie started her Audi, and I hobbled into the backseat with Eugene and my Julia Bleu. I showed him how easy it was to make and receive calls.  I asked what his daughter’s name was and then for her number.  Feeling the best I had all day, I showed him his contacts.  “Now I just showed you, so call me now real quick. Eugene pick up your phone and ring me at the number underneath my name.”  My phone rang like magic, Eugene seemed quite pleased. ” Now, don’t forget to charge it whenever you can, I will see you real soon. But if you need anything, just call me I got your number too”

“Thank you Corey. Are you sure this is ok? “Yes Eugene, its all fine I need to go home, I just had an operation on my leg on Wednesday and its quiet sore.”  “Ok thank you, and Corey…..”  “What is it Eugene?”  “You are not a faggot to me, and your girl is really pretty.”  I smiled a smile Stephanie hadn’t seen in awhile. “I appreciate it Eugene, I will see you real soon”

We left Eugene in the parking lot of the soup kitchen.  I jumped into the front with Stephanie, trying to hide my tears. I didn’t do a good job. She said, “Corey your heart is so big, I just love you even more.”  I guess I needed to hear that as I truly had done Eugene wrong in my blog post a week ago.

We rode quietly home.  I grabbed my Adderall and my coffee and told Stephanie I was out to write some more moronic prose that was me.  Here I sit, as the sun fades, in the midst of Corey’s Chronicle hours, I feel really spent.  Think I might take some pain medication and try a new blog post just for a laugh……