Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Memories: Those Days of Wine and Occasionally Roses

Maureen B. on Second Avenue
About 12:30 am on Saturday night.

I didn't see her until I heard her asking me to call her an ambulance.

She looked like days of yore when drinking yourself into street stoops and toothlessness was a bit more common. She said she was from Ridgewood. Queens.

"You visiting friends, family?"

She snorted. "No."

"Just in for a drink?"

She laughed. The same way Florence would when to answer directly would mean admitting to a lifetime of fucking things up.

One of the Chinese kitchen workers from the nearby restaurant offered instructions on how to make her more comfortable.

As I talked to the police operator, I propped her up against my legs, while many young people came and went from the Irish bar next door. A couple of them offered to call or get help and one even tried to give me a dollar.

They were a better dressed version of my youth. And leaning against my legs was what could have easily been my old age, for it was on Second Avenue during days of booze, that my wobbling feet would weave up and down with hopes of love and when that didn't work out, hopes for cupcakes and something good on TV.

The ambulance showed up and the bouncer came out. "I told her not to sit down but down she went. She wasn't sitting there a long time, maybe a couple of minutes before you showed up."

"Perfect timing," I said.

After a couple of questions and snapping blue gloves on, the EMS guys got Maureen up on her feet. The bouncer watched and then said to me, "She just needed a warm bed tonight."

Like committing a petty crime for two-hots-and-a-cot, maybe getting drunk for a warm bed wasn't that much different than getting drunk for different kinds of sweets.

As I watched Maureen, tiny between the two EMS guys, hobble to the gurney, I looked into her face. Beat-up, sagging, ravaged by whatever bottle she lived in, there it was - the unmistakable memory of a little girl who must have laughed with great hope for something, something better than this, maybe even a little warm or a little sweet.


Anonymous said...

She found the right person to stay with her a while..that's for sure. How many times in life do we say, "there but for the grace of (your preference here)". One wrong choice, one thoughtless action..... I hope she got a good, warm nights sleep.

CG said...

Really wonderful post. How many times do we see someone so ravaged by life and instinctively wonder what the child they were looked like?
Your sweetness to this woman is worth a million words and such a small kindness is so large for her.
It's tough - living. I completely relate to the state she is in and to the impossibility of getting out of it. None of us has the right to pass judgement on her.

Alana said...

wow...she is lucky that you took the time to stop and care, verses others would have simply walked by or offered to call and vanish..