The only thing I take seriously is my Freedom. And Bacon.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

I'm Kind Of Glad He's Dead - Second Chapter


“It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.” ― Thomas Paine

Dale and I had been friends since I joined a volunteer emergency medical services (VMSC) corps  when I was in my early 20’s and Dale was just a few years younger than I. Our volunteer days were in  late 80’s early 90’s (think Madonna, Whitesnake, Wham).
Also popular back in those years was the movie Top Gun. People joked that Dale looked a bit like Tom Cruise (Dale’s image would change drastically over the years but to give you a reference point, he did look like Cruise and was short in stature also).  I never had any interest in Dale and he never had any interest in me (except this one drunken night and that was simply him being drunk, he tried, but nothing happened except him peeing on a fire hydrant and dropping a cigarette on the apartment rug).
Dale’s best friend was Alex. Alex was also a volunteer with the EMS unit. Dale and Alex had been friends since high-school. They did household construction jobs for family and friends. Vacationed together. Worked together. Volunteered together. Dale left his landscaping job and became a cop, and Alex followed him, becoming a dispatcher and then a policeman in the same department.
Dale was somewhat of a timid pitbull, mostly bark, little bite, not out to make friends.  Alex was a more of a Labrador – loyal, a hard worker, a good friend. Alex was the peacemaker. The listener.
They were always together, short dark haired Dale and tall blonde hair Alex.
Dale was also one of those friends who thought he knew better than anyone. He had strong opinions about people, ideas, situations.  He was content grumbling behind closed doors, or loudly to his friends,  but when it came time to actually make a difference, Dale would often make excuses rather than speak up and be heard.  He’d say to me: “If I say something, it won’t change anything.” “No one will listen to me anyway.” “It’s not worth the bother.”
He was often better at giving advice than he was asking for advice.
Dale had “Showoff Syndrome.”
We all have various things we like to show off. Bodies. Cars. College Degrees. Houses.  
Dale, however, had a terminal case of Showoff Syndrome.
I fist noticed it when he started dating Deandra*. Dale was in his early twenties and Deandra was a senior in high-school. She joined the VMSC. Her parents were wealthy, she was a bit spoiled, and she was pretty and got along well with everyone.  Dale told us he disliked her because she was prissy and pretentious. But everyone liked Deandra, especially the guys, and Dale ended up dating her. It seemed odd to me that he had been so full of dislike for her, yet when they started dating, he loved to show her off, but still would complain to us that she was pretentious and prissy. He complained she was all about show (best diamond, designer purses, fancy cars), but the thing he didn’t realize was; that’s exactly why he was attracted to her. Because she was someone he could showoff. And he had no problem giving her all the expensive things she asked for.  And because she was a few years younger, he often liked to tell her how she should act and do things. It made him angry when she wanted to do something on her own, or learn something from someone else. She had designer taste and he catered to it. The spent more than 5 years together, through her college and into part of her pharmacy education. They got engaged. Like most relationships, they had their highs and lows. But most of the time he seemed unhappy (and so did she) and it was no surprise to any of his friends when she broke off the engagement.
Dale always had to have the best of everything himself.  The biggest truck with all the gadgets. And he would keep that truck clean and shiny. He bought the latest iPhones and computers.  His living room was like walking into a TV showroom. He had the latest greatest systems that were always upgraded. He had DVR’s that recorded downstairs  and had them hooked up so that he could send the shows he had recorded upstairs to his bedroom TV.
How could he afford all these things? He lived with his mom who had been divorced and single since Dale was in elementary school.  
 Dale’s friends gently suggested, as he grew older, late twenties, early thirties, late thirties, maybe he should think about buying his own place. After all, his only sister had married and started a family of her own. Maybe Dale should spread his wings too.
But his sister getting married was the excuse he used in order to stay at the house. Because now, Dale often told me, he was the only one who was going to be able to take care of his mom. The funny thing was, his mom was working and in good health, dating, going on vacations, painting, very active, literally until the last few months of her life.  
Those closest to him knew he wanted that house. Indeed, he put much work into it, always updating it, always a construction project. In his mind, the goal was his mom would sell the house to him, and he always promised her she could live in the house. We’d had many conversations where he was frustrated that his mom wouldn’t sell the house to him. His mom was afraid Dale would kick her out of the house. Where most men would long to have privacy and space of their own, Dale wouldn’t even contemplate the thought of leaving that house.
After Deandra breaks off the engagement, Dale is not happy. For years he harbored anger. Not anger that he ever acted out on, just anger that stopped him from moving forward. Anytime someone offered to play match maker for Dale, he would refuse. His excuse in the beginning was that he didn’t trust women. That he had been broken hearted (and didn’t see it coming – yet we all did).  
There was a time he made out with one of his co-workers, Carla*.  Both of them were relatively new to the police force at the time. Both were drunk. She was dating someone else. As far as he’d ever told me, it was a one time thing.
As the years progressed, it seemed everyone but Dale had grown. Dale did change in physical appearance (don’t we all) however, his weight morphed, he kept his dome head shaven and for a-while he was so obese he reminded me of a Weeble Wobble.
It’s not that nature has been unkind to Dale; it’s that he has been unkind to himself. I had suggested he work out, but he said, “No time! I’m busy doing so much with work and fixing up the house.” Or “Work made me gain weight, the shift work makes it impossible to eat healthy.” This is somewhat true, but it’s an excuse. I know many men and women who work shift work and they are able to find time to eat healthy and workout. After Gabby came into his life,, he had lost some of the weight, but was far from looking like Tom Cruise. Now, you might feel I’m being somewhat mean here, but to understand this story, you need to understand how Dale grades women on their appearances, which is something that has always bothered me.  
When people suggested women for Dale to date, he either claimed they weren’t good enough, or   
they came with ‘baggage’ (divorced with children). Some friends offered to set him up with a single woman and he took one look at her picture and said “No!” Apparently, she wasn’t attractive enough for Dale. His complaint to me? “She wasn’t thin enough.”
He had his standards, he told me. It was all I could do to not say to him, “Have you NOT looked in a mirror? Your belly hangs over your belt, you have so many chins you could claim them as dependents on your taxes, your bald head is shaped like a dome, and you sweat when it’s only 10 degrees outside!”
It was frustrating, to say the least. It’s like me walking into a BMW dealership and then presenting them with my paystubs.I would not be driving away with a BMW.