The Other Jeff Key

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photo credit Max Burke

I’m writing the blog tonight for Jeff Key. No, not me although yes for me. All of them are for me. Each day I make it to the page in any way is a “W.” The Jeff Key I’m writing for tonight is a Facebook friend I’ve never met. I don’t remember when we first connected (it was around the name of course), perhaps when the movie came out. He’s the more practical Jeff Key. Once when I was, as I oh-so-often am, lamenting the perils of living inside my head, fighting with myself to get shit done, or any other of myriad existential crises—Jeff, the other Jeff, introduced me to something called the Pomodoro Technique for time and task management. Look it up; it works I believe, or seemed to when I first tried it a few times. There are few panaceas in life or at least that’s my belief but Jeff’s helpful suggestion did seem to be moving me in the right direction so I stopped it right away as I endeavor to do with all things that make life easier for me.
I make up stories about people without their permission. No matter what you do or don’t do in your life and really whether or not it has anything to do with me, I will make up my mind why you have done or not done and hold on to my hypothesis with the strength of conviction of a religious zealot. I hadn’t heard from the Chicago Jeff Key in a while so I had become convinced that he knew I hadn’t been faithful to my tomato timer as the Pomodoro Doctrine demands and Jeff Key had decided, “Well if the poor sot won’t pick up and use a tool that can fix what he continually complains about, I’m simply going to wash my hands of him!” I also considered that, although he didn’t seem the sort, he might be an avid Trump supporter and therefore put off by my recent and ongoing efforts to dethrone King Baby.  (I didn’t have the nerve to check my Facebook friends list to see if he was still there. Abandonment is the greatest form of rejection which as we all know is my chief fear in this life, second maybe to insanity but that ship may have already sailed.)
About a week ago, out of the blue, I got a message from Jeff Key! From way up there in Chicago, Illinois. He was his regular thoughtful and supportive self. I navigated to his Facebook page while I read his message so I could see the face of the man who wrote it.
I smile when I see him with the people he loves. I hope he has a happy life and I believe that he does. Jeff Key deserves a happy life.

My recently absent doppel-name-er was writing to give me encouragement on the blog. A couple weeks back I declared an intention to blog daily again and I have fallen far short of that. I’ve let recent health challenges be the excuse and I could quickly summon a chorus-legion of enablers to rubber stamp that bullshit but the truth is one excuse is just as deadly as any.

My neighbor has dropped by. He’s a Marine. He’s a sweet man who has TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and I wonder what he was like before his injuries. He’s a big, lumbering man, still super fit. Snowy white afro cropped pretty tight. Handsome. His TBI has given him a child-like quality. His sister “handles” his Social Security and somehow that handling seems to continually end my brother up at my door at the end of the month wringing his cap and kicking sand. I’ve tried to reason with him and twice before refused to give him money. One day he came with a box of kitty litter trying to sell it to me. A moment ago when he rang my bell I asked if him if he was trying to get some money. “Nah man, I’m just hungry.” So that I can do, and I brought him in and sat him at the table. I had, after all, stewed way too much cabbage and there was another can of black-eyed peas in the cabinet. I had put the extra fried pork chop in the fridge for lunch tomorrow but it got added to his supper. I apologized for my silence while he ate but explained that I was really committed to doing a blog tonight and that I’m already very, very tired. The jazz music filling the room and the food he said was “real good” made sufficient substitute for my attention. He says a couple things to the back of my head while I try to type this. I barely listen but realize in retrospect they were set-ups for “the ask” that I know is coming. I even put twenty dollars on the kitchen counter in anticipation of the ask and I guess at least part of me has decided I’ll give it to the motherfucker. He’s a fucking Marine, after all. But like I told him, “This is like the Salvation Army in that with every meal comes sermon and here’s yours” and I told him the real story of another veteran with TBI had “borrowed ‘til tomorra” $40 off me and it wasn’t until six months later when I birddogged him to his house and told him I was driving him to the ATM that I got my money back. “And I didn’t have nothing but good vibes on that cat before that” I told my dinner guest tonight, “but I don’t even care to see the motherfucker coming now!” and by then I could feel my heart rate climbing and since I have zero desire to make it to the emergency room for a third time in two weeks, there ended the sermon.

People in New Orleans call each other “baby” a lot so I “baby”d him a couple times on his way out the door and told him I loved him. I should just ask the brother over for dinner once a month. It’s only in typing this story to you that I now realize what an asshole I was. He needs some help. I couldn’t have waited ten minutes to get back to the blog. Asshole.
Hell, he came for food and food he got. He was probably grateful not to have to sing for his supper.
It only now occurs to me after having related the story to you that he said when I first opened the door that he was coming from church! He’d come hungry from church! And I wonder how many times in that man’s life, perhaps before he was injured did he reach into his wallet and give money to that church to pay for the pastor’s Cadi? Man fuck organized religion.
Clearly not what I started out to write about tonight but life happens. And I want to be the sort of artist who picks up every stone that gets thrown through my window, turns it all around and learns everything I can from it.
Perhaps my anger at my Marine brother tonight because he can’t seem to handle his finances is more about my anger at myself for how poorly I handle mine.

 

Thanks again, Jeff Key for reaching out and saying the blog means something to you. You’re the reason I sat down to do it tonight even though I wanted to go to bed.

 

I’m like an electron wildly orbiting a nucleus made of chaos.


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