I’ve never met anyone with such bad hair.
Well, let me rephrase. H’s hair is not really all that bad, but the lack of attention brings the hairdo into the category of a homeless person. As the bald spot in the middle grows, he lets the blond-grayish sides grow out, approaching a look that resembles Freakshow from Harold and Kumar. His round belly gives him a decidedly Homer Simpson silhouette, and having worked in the nuclear power industry for a bit, this is quite appropriate. He speaks proudly of how much he can eat in a single setting. He constantly references his oldness, (although he is only 55), as a reason for not hearing, seeing, smelling or noticing things around him, but you get the sense that he’s never really paid attention all that much.
H makes friends wherever he goes, usually with the waitresses and janitors and farmers and regular guys he meets along his path. He is chronically late and unreliable, and has two cars that are in equally bad shape and make horrendous sounds. When he does arrive, though, he is so soft and flattering, that you forget he’d been missing at all. “Oh it’s just H being H” you hear a lot at the farmer’s market.
He likes routine the best, and is a regular at many bars and restaurants around the island. The man can put down some serious beer while doing the crossword puzzle in a booth at the back, at 2pm. If the bar stool could have his name on it, like in Cheers, he would take it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately he has type 2 diabetes, so this isn’t the best way to live a healthy life. He reads paperbacks about World War II, or an obscure disease, which he leaves in heaps around his bedroom and on the floor of his car.
He likes to say that his hobby is “dead people”. Having a very common Scottish last name, he runs the largest database chronicling the lives of those people. He wakes up at 4am every morning (intentionally or not) to check the obituaries around the nation, chronicling every last one, and matching them up with families he’s already found. Sometimes he gets excited about “adding a new branch”. I think of this Life Without Baby post.
Although he lives paycheck to paycheck nowadays, the slick car-salesman-like engineering sales person of former days is still present. He began his life in the military, first in Germany, but also in Japan and the US when he was young. He speaks about the amount of trouble he got into when he was a kid, how many schools he managed to get kicked out of; the stream of military therapists that were provided for him; how he learned to sell thing by selling pot just off base. He speaks less about the GED he earned after it was over, but I’m proud that he went back for it. Because in the end, he worked his way up to the control rooms at NASA – without a college degree! He fixed nuclear power plant control systems – without a college degree! This before he flopped on the island and decided he might want to take care of bees for a living.
H has no biological children. He’s been married twice, and he won’t let you forget it. His second wife tried to run him over with her car as she left the marriage, taking all of his money with him. He had adopted her child from another relationship when they married, and will get affronted if you suggest he doesn’t have children. All the same, his adopted daughter has cost him dearly. The last year of child support is something he contends he didn’t need to pay, and as a result, he can no longer renew his driver’s license. H drives about 20,000 miles a year. Still. And he drives those miles in a shabby car that doesn’t always have an updated safety, or working brakes, or a place to sit on the front seat. He goes to court regularly to defend himself from driving without a license. He has a 101 jokes about why being married is awful, and well – I can kind of see his point.
He married not really for love that 2nd time, but because he wanted a child. I thought this was something only women do. He “wanted to teach her things – like how to stick marshmallows to your face.” His daughter was about 5 when they met. I guess he never found someone to have biological children with? This part is a mystery, and goes in the man chronicles of things he doesn’t talk about. His only sibling doesn’t have children – so the genealogist’s line stops with him.
There is, maybe, a happy ending though. “Third time in thirty years” is his new buzz line. He is now dating the same girl he started dating when she was 18. She is 48 now. She lives half way around the world, and he might leave the island to be with her. You can see stars in his eyes when he talks about her. (Ironically, perhaps, she lives in the same place as my long distance beau, Mr. Faraway). He might start life again, sailing the Caribbean and chartering a boat. I like to picture that ending.
H has patiently listened to the painstaking story of every one of my encounters and dates and boyfriends, and I wish there were some tangible reward for that! Nearly everywhere we go, people assume I’m his daughter, or ask where my dad is. I’ve started to be honored by the question. Together we traverse restaurants, looking for the best nachos and drinking beers, commiserating on the state of our lives. I present to you, readers, my best friend on the island.