Thursday, June 30, 2011

I’d Like To Tell You About A Man Named Joe

A few weeks ago the love of my life became nostalgic for his late teens and pulled out the old comic book collection.  We’ve been together for just over 21 years now, and I’ve seen this collection less than 5 times.  It was fun to watch and listen to him talk about the books, as if they were old college friends.  I asked him why he stopped collecting them, and he gave the standard reply one would expect, “beer money”.  Makes sense.  My best friend and partner-in-crime used to have holes in the soles of her shoes for that same reason.

The mother of the love of my life was an antique dealer for many, many years.  The love of my life grew up being a part of this collection and selling business and knew the importance of keeping things in good shape that may later have a resale value.  This said mother is still waiting for her resale value with two storage units chocked full of antique store inventory that more than likely will never see the light of day again, but that’s another story.

So the research began.  By Sunday, he was checking out Craigslist and putting out feelers. Phone calls were received from meth’d out folks in desperate need to tell us their life story of baby daddy’s and foreclosed homes who wanted to sell their imprisoned family member’s comic book collection probably for the going rate of a hit of meth.  This little adventure was going to be fun!!!

Two Saturday’s ago the love of my life bribed me with lunch on the beach at Sloppy Joe’s to load up my crutches and a pillow in the car if I would spend the day zigzagging across the St. Petersburg peninsula to look at comic books with him.  Beach?  Food?  Sign me up!!  My only stipulation was that if the person was a hoarder like the ones on TV, I wouldn’t be going inside.  The first stop was to purchase another piece of his childhood that was stolen from him – Dungeon’s and Dragon’s manual.  Success, and he had a smile on his face!  Second stop was not as successful in that it was a young guy who was clearly being pestered by his wife to get rid of the useless comic books a buddy talked him into taking because she needed more room in their 900 square foot bungalow for her shoes.  The dude was clearly of his rocker wanting a C note for two or three boxes full of crapola.  We left without committing, and the guy called later to beg the love of my life for an offer, any offer.  He was offered $20.00, and kindly refused, saying he would be throwing them away.  Too bad, could have taken his wife out for a cocktail.

Our last stop of the day was in the North Tampa area.  We were going to meet Joe, who said he would be home after 3:00 pm.  After riding around trying to find his pad, waiting for him to show up, getting stymied at Target because all of the fatty scooters were taken, we finally met Joe.  Joe lived in the typical Florida mobile home park; tidy little areas, with about 6 streets in it, lots of pinks and greens, and really old people.  We pulled up to Joe’s mobile home, and he greeted us at the front door.  His first words were an apology, because apparently the animal hoarder next door’s cats got into his air conditioner unit, thereby leaving the air conditioning not working.  We were going through an unusual heat wave in Florida with heat indices over a hundred and the humidity hung in the air like a wet blanket.  And that normal breeze off the sea?  What breeze?  We were getting ripped off!

Joe sees that I’m all gimpy about the same time I see the steep assed stairs leading up to the front door.  I kind of peeked around him to see if he might possibly be a hoarder (he told us he had been at the flea market all day and his vehicle was jam packed full of boxes so the possibility was there), saw that it was safe and made the trek up the giant steps.  I entered into the flaming hot mobile home and the sweat instantly started.  Joe offered me a seat at the table while he took the love of my life back to see the comics.  I figured it would be safer if we were not separated, just in case something happened, ya know?  We went to the bowels of the home, to an interior room that was sealed with an eye hook and nail.

The stifling room was filled with more boxes – this must be Joe’s flea market inventory.  He showed us where the comics where, and I tried to figure out where to sit.  Two seconds later, Joe appeared with a chair for me.  Wow!  There are still some decent people in this world.  We go through the 700 plus comic as quickly as we can, sweat pouring out of all cracks and crevices on our bodies; our shirts becoming discolored from the seepage.  Then the boys get to talking.  The love of my life has this uncanny ability to draw all sorts of details from people.  I like to say he has mad skillz – yes, that’s with a Z.  He likes that.

Joe tells us about his days growing up in the Bronx just a few blocks from the Apollo Theater to his time working as an extra for The Punisher.  He said he stood just a few feet from Johnny T (my favorite Scientologist) and was surprised at how tall he is.  Joe said he does other work as an extra, and has been offered more speaking parts, but he doesn’t want to put dentures in, so he turns those down.  Did I not mention Joe only had a couple of teeth?  Yeah, he was pretty gummy with the smiles, but he had an air of confidence about him that showed he could give a rat’s ass if anyone liked it or not.

We finished the transaction without any problems.  Joe carried the comics to the door, the love of my life loaded my little Honda Civic to the hilt with them and I sat in the kitchen.  I have to admit to one moment of holy shit, I’m going to end up this guys sex slave or dart board or loaded into a pet carrier for the next few months until my foot heals enough so I can bust out of the place, but at least with no air conditioning I can lose some weight when the love of my life was outside and I was inside with Joe.  It was a fleeting thought, and quickly passed as both men made sure I was safe getting down the Mt. Everest high steps. 

We chatted a bit more outside where the 90 plus degree temperature felt like a cool breeze in hell, and I took a good look at Joe.  The toupee was a horrible match for his hair and it didn’t go well with his skin tone, but he was probably a decent looking guy when he was younger.  He had a great personality and was fun to hang out with for a bit.  It’s interesting the people you meet in your life and how you come across them.  Joe from Craigslist was memorable and kind and someone I won’t soon forget.  I also won’t ever forget that my hair was not dry from the sweat locker of home he had even with the air conditioning blasting full on for the hour drive back home!

The things we do for our hobbies!

Big shout out to The Rat's Pack of This N That Pack Rat (of and for use of the photo!

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