Flirting with women, listening to baseball on the radio. I found an old transistor radio and put new batteries in it. I listened to all the playoff games between the White Sox and the Angels, setting the radio on the kitchen table, or clutching it while I walked on the beach.
I’ve been flirting with women, being charming – but a little of that goes a long way. Life is better with purpose, which is the middle path between two extremes.
One extreme is flirting and flitting and shopping and cruising and changing channels. The other extreme is righteousness, obsession and in general, being too tightly focused.
One hopes for a balance, a decent purpose. As for women, I think to have a partner is the best. When I was married I was just nicely focused on her – sometimes being charming, of course, and sometimes being righteous, which is awful, but mainly working it all out with just one woman. It’s better that way.
Forty Lives Continued -- Dana, David, and Dean.
Dana Rust lives in Edison, Washington, a small, unincorporated town at the mouth of the Samish River. Edison is famous for being the hometown of Edward R. Murrow. Dana and his wife Tony Ann live in the old hardware store, a huge place made of wonderful warm, old wood. She teaches school. She was my childrens’ Head Start teacher years ago on the Swinomish Reservation across the channel from LaConner.
Dana was a commercial fisherman. He ran a hippie crew on his purse seiner, the Pacific Breeze. I went out with him on the boat one time – the time he hung the net on a rock near Apple Tree Point off the Kitsap Peninsula. That was in 1983. Dana didn’t bother looking at the chart and he was just being careless – so we lost most of the day getting that huge net off the rocks and only caught a few fish.
Maybe ten years ago Dana gave up fishing and started an art gallery in the front half of the hardware store. It’s called the Edison Eye. It is the best art gallery in the Skagit Valley. I enjoy going to the openings there – to meet old friends and new people.
A few years ago Dana had major surgery for a brain tumor and he came very close to dying. I think the tumor and the surgery altered his basic chemistry and he has not been like his old self, often getting depressed.
David Schlitt never answers my email anymore. I guess he thinks I’m a pest, but I only wanted to be friends. He is from Brookline, Massachusetts, from a semi-observant Jewish family. He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Yiddish. Then he came to Ohio to work on the John Kerry campaign. That’s where I met him. Of all the smart-aleck Ivy League brats who provided the campaign leadership, he was the one I liked the best.
They were nice kids, but they should not have been running the campaign – being all brains and no experience. Now David works in Washington DC for some Reform Jewish advocacy group, making small money and hoping to get a date. David is a good-looking guy with a nice sense of humor, but he is hopeless with women. He should listen to me – I had better luck when I was his age.
Dean Flood has been in a wheel chair for more than 25 years. Drunk, driving too fast on the Fir Island Road, he drifted off the road and crashed into a utility pole. That crippled him. He had been an active outdoorsman and the Superintendent of Public Works in LaConner. Friends rallied around him after the accident and re-fit his house on South First Street for wheelchair access, but his wife left him after a few years.
Since then he has lived by himself. His speech is slurred. He can walk with braces, but mostly he stays home and watches TV. The best thing about Dean is his cheerful attitude. You gotta play the cards you were dealt, he says, and never complains. Although if you press him, he will admit that life in a wheel chair really sucks.