Waiting For Something

On October 31, 2009, I took my son to breakfast at McDonald’s on Vanowen and Balboa. It was empty, quiet and the playground was open for him.

As a regular breakfast consumer of McDonald’s I get used to people panhandling. If I eat deeper into Van Nuys, most people bypass me, thinking I don’t know Spanish, so they walk on.

I give change, or, on occasion, they just want my coffee cup before it’s thrown away.

On this particular day, a Sunday, I saw a guy walk in; he looked like the mountain man from The Oak Ridge Boys: a little roughed up, but not dirty. Boots seemed clean. He didn’t seem to order; he placed his travel roll in a booth, and kind of walking around.

At that point my son had finished his food, and wanted to play outside. So, we went to play.

After about a half an hour my son was done, and wanted to head home. Right as I was starting to stand-up, the bearded Mountain Man came walking into the play area. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a dollar, but before I could hand it over, the Man spoke:

“I want you to have these,” he said and proceed to give me two coupons for a free cup of coffee, one coupon for a free breakfast sandwich, and a gift card that he said “might only have forty cents on it, but use it to buy your little one an ice cream.”

I told him I couldn’t accept it, that he should keep it. Use it for tomorrow’s breakfast.

“You keep it,” he said. “I’m fine.”

I pocketed my dollar, his coupons, and the gift card. Before I could look up, he was making his way out the driveway, pulling his travel roll.

“Let me drive you somewhere,” I call out to him.

“No,” he said and reiterated that he was fine then pointed to the bus stop

“There are things I want to see,” he said.

Turned left out of the driveway, and looked at him waiting for the bus, puzzled.

He stood looking up at the sky smiling.

– Last One To Die, 2011

#michaelessington #lastonetodie



I remember reading an article about ten plus years back about how the majority of all American men use the movies Caddyshack and The Godfather as a basis in which to bond. The article went on to explain that by trading certain lines back and forth you show that you are “one of them.” For example, someone says, “Do you take drugs, Danny?” You would have to reply back with: “Everyday.” Obviously, this banter could go on and on depending on how deep you went into this movie. But you get the gist.

It reminded me of an insurance company I worked for during the early nineties, one afternoon I got invited to lunch with a bunch of manager trainees, you know the type – prim and proper at work then at night they become college frat boys – anyway, they start discussing this new procedure that they’re trying change and how upper management is trying to stop them, so this guy, Frank, says, “It’s time to go to the mattresses.” I let out a chuckle, and Frank says, “Yeah, Essington knows what I’m talking about,” and he gives me a thumbs-up. I nodded. Now, did I chuckle as part of this “bonding process” over a Godfather quote? No, actually I stifled a laugh because I always found it funny that certain people equated their job to war or mafia-type violence.

I had a boss, years ago, that had a hardcover edition of the Art of War on his desk, really dude?

Regardless of my intention, Frank and I had bonded because I understood his quote.

The one flaw with this bonding theory is that these movies are so old now that unless you belong to my generation you won’t get these references. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re at a party yell out, “Hey, did somebody step on a duck?” And watch how everybody looks at you like you’re a leper.

This is why I couldn’t ever date somebody more than three or so years younger than me. All my conversations tend to have pop culture references. And if you don’t get the references, well don’t expect me to sit around and ramble about how nifty those Kardashian broads are, Klunky is my favorite Kardashian though.

I had a young girl send me a friend request a few weeks ago, then she jumps on the chat and told me how much she loved Last One to Die (aw, shucks) and how much she related to it. I thanked her and thought nothing of it. Then later in the conversation, she asked me to watch a video of her band on YouTube. Decent band, but the vocal syncing was off a bit. So, she said, “Did you notice my vocals were out of sync?” So, I gave a smart-ass reply, I said, “It looked like an episode of Lancelot Link.” She replied with a “LOL,” and then, “Who’s he?” This made me scratch my head, “How old are you?” She said “20.” OK, fine, whatever, but that lead to my most important question, “If you’re twenty, how is it that you relate to my book? All the places I mention are gone and most of the people are dead.” She replied back, “I just do.”

Fucking kids.

#michaelessington #misconceptionsofhell