He said, “I get humble and humiliation mixed up.”
I still get it mixed up. I know some folks like to look up the “dictionary definition” of certain words, humility being one. But, me, I’m not looking up that word.
Maybe it’s due to pride. Stubbornness. Maybe it’s coz the dictionary has never helped too much when it came to my recovery.
I used to go to the library every day when I was drinking. Back in the 70’s, they’d have these private reading rooms with a work table, desk, chair and adjustable blinds for the one window.
Every day, I’d sign one out, grab a book, throw my knapsack on the table, draw the blinds, shut and lock the door. Then I’d pull a bottle of White Port outta my knapsack, sit down at the desk and drink and read till someone would knock and say, “You’re hour is up Mr. Paradise.”
Once, when I was leaving, I checked out the ‘discard’ bin and found a pocket book edition of ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ by James Joyce.
I bought it for a quarter and I put it in the ass pocket of my pants and forgot about it till I made it to the ‘Dixieland Saloon’ where I took my stand at the bar, shoulder to shoulder with Vocabulary Bob.
Vocabulary Bob pulled his glass closer to his chest and said, “Joe, how Ya doin’?”
“Good, V. Bob,” I said. “Why you lookin’ at my butt?”
“What you readin’?”
“Just some lightweight shit. You wouldn’t be interested.”
I handed him the book.
“Interesting. What’s it about?”
I grabbed the book, opened it and said, “Here’s my favorite part…’riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend,…'” I went on and on for another couple of minutes then paused to look at Bob.
He nodded and said, “I remember now.”
He didn’t want me to read anymore so I put the book back in my pocket and, at the same time, pulled out a five spot and ordered, “A pitcher of beer for me and one for the man standin’ next to me.”
Vocabulary Bob laughed, “You’re gonna get thrown in jail again, Joe, if you don’t stop stealin’.”
“This is my money. Came by it honest. Sold my plasma yesterday.”
“Sold your wha…?”
“Plasma. White blood cells. 6 bucks yesterday. Wait a couple of days. 8 bucks second trip. 14 bucks a week.”
“You sell your blood?”
“Plasma, baby, plasma.”
“Man, that’s low. Sellin’ your blood.”
I didn’t bother correcting him. Instead, I said, “My friend, Ed, has a rare blood type and he makes 75 dollars total a week.”
“That’s low no matter how much they pay you. Jesus, Joe. Jesus.”
I missed my second trip to the plasma center that week. In fact, I missed the rest of that week all together.
I’m just glad I came to in time to take my place in line at The Plasma Center on Monday.
I worked to clear my head by lookin’ around for a familiar face when I caught him tryin’ to avoid eye contact. He was about three folks ahead of me.
“Vocabulary Bob,” I said. “What are you doin’ here?”