Thursday, December 21, 2023

It's Good to Be Good

O.K.  I have long and very weird tale to tell today, but I'm hardly in shape for it.  I went out with the gymroid crowd last night.  That is not the tale.  It was a mixed group and very "civilized."  We actually played the trivia game that was going on in the pub--in earnest!  Oh, man. . . not my gig, really, but o.k.  I wore a sweater I haven't seen in years.  One day not long ago, though, I was looking through the many sports coats I have hanging in the closet and I came across something wrapped that had come from the dry cleaner's.  I opened it, and there was my professorial Leave It to Beaver/Father Knows Best cashmere cardigan.  It was a cool evening, so I thought to put it on with a t-shirt.  It was way cool in that nerdy give-a-shit way.  

When the boys gave me shit about my sweater, I said, "Here, feel it."  

"Oooo. . . cashmere," said the girls.  But the boys could not let that stand. 

"Let me feel it.  That's kind of thin.  That may be Kashmere," one of them smirked.  "Your girlfriend must have given you that."

It was true, but it was supposed to be a jibe at my relative poverty.  

"It's Florida cashmere, you jerk, for the warmer climates.  Let me feel your shirt.  Is that a polyester blend?"

And that is how the night went.  The pretty girl brought her baby boyfriend who looked miserable hanging out with us, nervous and unsure, so he said little while his girlfriend orchestrated Trivial Pursuit or whatever it is called.  We were doing pretty well.  I had three pints and started nibbling off everyone's plates--some bbq wings, wedge fries, a mullet dip, some fish and chips.  I had ridden up with Tennessee who had picked me up at my house where I was having the evening cocktail.  He had eaten a couple gummies and by the time we'd been there three hours, he was ready to jump to the Mexican place for some tacos.  

"Are you guys leaving?!"

When we got to the restaurant and had taken our seats at the bar, Tennessee realized none of his favorite bartenders were there.  No problem, though.  We made friends with the new one, she from Columbia via Puerto Rico.  She had the ears of a bat, we learned, as she commented on our undertone conversations later on in the evening.  We ordered the spicy skinny margaritas and some food.  

We were sitting next to a couple at the bar, and of course Tennessee struck up a conversation, he all A.D.D. and high on Guinness and gummies.  The woman he was talking to mentioned her father.  He sounded very familiar to me, and so did she.  Turns out she was the sister of Travis' wife.  She looked and sounded like her sister.  I texted Travis to tell hims so, and her texted back--"Tell her she's in bad company.  Tell her I will come rescue her."

I must say it was fairly true, but she and Tennessee got along like thieves.  They chatted for awhile, then just as our food arrived, they took their leave. 

I was speaking Spanish like a gringo trying to be cool with the Spanish speaking staff, and I said "por favor" to the barmaid, then asked, "Did that sound gringo enough?"

"I like it," she said.  "You sound like my father.  He's from Ohio."

I was trying to explain to the other bartender that in Mexico, my accent was so bad that when I said I was a real "hombre," they thought I said I was really hungry.  I don't think what I said made any sense to the bartender, though.  

In a bit, I asked for check.  "La quinta," I thought it was, but apparently I asked for another because he brought me another skinny spicy margarita.  I didn't want it and by now Tennessee was going on the nod.  

"I guess I had better quit trying to speak Gringo Spanish," I said.  

When Tennessee brought me to the house, I poured a scotch and asked him if he would like a drink.  Nope.  The boy was fading fast.  In a bit he left and I sat back and thought through the day.  

And now we get to the weird and fantastic tale.  

Just before it was time to go to my mother's house, I decided to take her now clean phone back to AT&T for the trade in.  I had cleared all the info off it including all my mom's porn.  Joke.  But just as I got in the car, I noticed I had a phone message.  My phone doesn't ring unless you are in my call list, so I had not heard the call come in.  It was from one of the brothers who own the big camera store in town.  They had bought some cameras, he said, that sounded like the ones I had reported stolen.  

What?!?  That would be a miracle.  When they were taken, I figured never to see them again.  I was sick of heart and soul and didn't want to deal with calling the cops, but in the afternoon, sitting with the first cocktail, I had nothing else to do and so I called.  A policeman came out and made the report.  

"I'm just doing this as a formality," I said.  "They won't be selling these in town."

"Maybe, but sometimes you can't believe how dumb these thieves are."

So the next day, I took a list of missing gear to the three camera stores in town.  

And I replaced two of the cameras and one of the lenses--as you already know.  And I've been struggling over buying another replacement lens I need/(want), but they go for around $2.5K.  I won't tell you how much I've spent already, but it is significant.  

I called the camera store owner back.  

"Come down and take a look," he said.  

"I'm going to the AT&T store near you now, so I'll be right in.  

And there they were.  Two of them, anyway.  And lenses.  Holy smokes!  But hold on. . . that wasn't all the store had.  They had security cam pictures of the couple who brought them in, and a copy of the girl's I.D.  AND. . . they had taken their thumb prints!

"I thought it was kind of funky," the clerk who bought the cameras told me.  "The guy could only show me some kind of I.D. on his phone, so I got the girl's.  He didn't have the chargers and really didn't know anything about the cameras, but people bring in stuff they got from their uncle who had died, so. . . ."  

"I've got the chargers," I said.  

Now here is the sweet part.  The camera store owners know me and are unbelievably friendly to me even though I'm a lowdown hippie and they are strait laced dyed in the wool society Kiwanis types.  Their father had owned the store before them and they have expanded the empire by buying up buildings all around the block.  All of this is a good thing because I don't have any of the serial numbers of the stolen goods.  There is nothing that demands they not sell the cameras back to me except their good nature.  He told me they had paid $4,000 for the cameras and that I could buy them back for that.  

That's just the way it works.  They are not out the money.  I am.  But if they sold the gear, they would get at least $9,000, so in essence we are both losing, them more than me.  

I told them I would go to the police the next day, and they put my cameras back in the box and said they'd hold them for me until we got things worked out.  

When I pulled into my driveway at home, I saw I had another voice message.  It was the store clerk.

"I just remembered we had bought some cameras from the fellow a couple weeks ago, so I looked, and yea, it looks like your other two Leicas."

Holy shit!  Four Leicas and lenses.  That was incredible.  I don't know yet how much they had paid for the last couple yet.  But it was something. 

Now I have duplicates.  What to do?  I can sell some of it and make some of my money back, but I am still going to be belly up on the deal.  And what will the police do?  I don't know.  The guy who sold the cameras is going to say he bought them from a guy on the street.  Something.  He's not going to say, "Around three in the morning, I took these cameras from that fellow's Xterra."  Who knows?

C.C. has theories.  One of them will flip on the other, probably the girl.  Why?  Because she is the one who laid down the I.D.  

Still, I don't expect to get the money back.  

I am not sure at this point how I feel about it all.  It is just a weird and terrible tale.  

"I hope you don't leave your cameras in the car anymore."

I just quoted everyone.  

That is what I was thinking about while I sat on the couch with the evening whiskey.  That and a few other things.  Before bed, I had to clean the kitchen and ready the coffee maker.  Then I wrote a note to what has stupidly become known as "The Wolfpack."  That was our Trivial Pursuit team name.  It apparently comes from some movie they all like.  "Wall Street"?  I told them I loved them all as one does at the end of a drunken night.  

Today is the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.  Starting tomorrow, we move into the light.  I always look forward to autumn but not so much to winter.  Autumn feels like friends.  I don't know what winter feels like.  This year, maybe, travel.  In the warmer climes where the light glistens and the sky is high and blue.  

It could happen.  

It also happens to be my Mountain Friend's birthday.  On the Solstice.  What a thing.  

I may start Dry January today.  I've eaten shit food and drunk way too much this week.  I need to detox.  We'll see.  I'll at least slow down.  

I haven't made another video, so I'll leave you with this.  Don't worry.  There are only four days left.  Maybe.  You know that today is the FIRST DAY of the Twelve Days of Christmas, right?  Hardly anybody does.  But we. . . we are special.  We know things that come in handy in a bar.  

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