I had a carful of golfclubs, and I was on my way to play a round of golf at a rinky-dink course by the Sarasota-Bradenton airport. I had only recently picked up the game, and was merely a novice at the time. My only experience swinging a golf club was at the driving range, but I had already purchased a set of brand new Taylor Made irons to match the driver I procured at a second hand store. Luckily the particular group of friends I was to meet at the course were not much more experienced than I, and if they were, it didn't show. Our tee time was 11:00 am, and I was running a little late.
I was outside my friend Mike's house, waiting for him to immerge. He was notoriously unenergetic, and sometimes bordered on lethargic. Every comment from Mike was preceded by a long sigh. These facts would most certainly cause us to be late for our tee time now. He lived in a duplex on the east side of town. On the front of the conjoined domicile was a concrete porch with thick pillars and a knee-high concrete border. It was filled with rusty lawn furniture, a couple bags of garbage, and in the top right corner of the porch was a windchime that looked to be expertly fashioned from discarded beer cans (I couldn't see what kind of beer cans, but I safely assumed at least one was PBR). About 5 minutes had passed when the door opened. Unfortunately for me, it was the door of the adjacent home. Out walked a couple of twenty-somethings. One, a man in his late twenties wearing tight jeans and an Iron Maiden t-shirt. His brown hair sprouted out from under a backwards baseball cap on all sides with no particular rhyme or reason. He had obviously just awoke. It was funny, because Iron Maiden was the CD playing almost inaudibly on my car stereo as I waited impatiently in the neighboring driveway. ""Home, far away. From the war, a chance to live again" was being belted passionately from Bruce Dickinson's throat but was filtered into a quiet mutter through my car speakers. The girl, who was clad simply in a long nightgown, sat quite unladylike on the edge of the porch with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. It was expertly gripped by her lips and dangled dangerously as she tried to speak to the Maiden man. His interest in what she was saying could only be measured in ADHD units. I believe this particular interest level was 4 ADHDUs, whereas his interest in the shiny beer can wind chime hanging from the corner of the porch was a full 10 ADHDUs.
I couldn't hear a thing she was saying, no matter how much I tried to focus. Even when I completely shut off the radio (silencing Bruce Dickinson), I still could not make out a single word. My interest in what she was saying was matched only by the disinterest of the person to whom she was actually speaking. That is until she said something that brought him back from his beer can hypnosis. At this point, I was sitting perfectly still and focusing 100% of my attention on her. She had extinguished the cigarette, and I was trying to read her lips. She was finished speaking, and was now just staring back at her male companion waiting for his response. We had this in common. He shook his head quickly as if to remove the cobwebs from the previous night's escapades or to literally shake off the cobwebs he had just leaned into on the porch. His response came quickly and without concern for his surroundings (including the guy sitting in the car in the neighboring driveway). He said "So, you had to make a decision. It was either your rent or your pants."
The man extinguished his cigarette as well, and stood up to go back inside. He couldn't even look at her. He just hung his head in shame, and shuffled back into the house. As the door of their house shut, the door to Mike's home opened and he came out. Once he had loaded his clubs into my Mazda hatchback, he walked around to passenger side and got in. I immediately began asking questions about his neighbors. "What is up with your neighbors?", "What sort of crazy shit are they into?", and "Do you know why she would have to choose between their rent money and her pants?" Unfortunately, his affinty to mumble rendered his retorts imperceptible to the human ear. Mike replied with a sigh (this time an extended one), and said simply "Yeah, they are hum dum brah puh meh." Mike was of no help, he offered zero insight and less than zero conversation. I really hate that guy.
Once again, I was forced to make up my own details. This one was not immediately bringing to mind anything sensical or logical. I asked myself again "Why would anyone have to choose between their rent money or their pants?" Then I realized something, she may not have been wearing that nightgown because she was just waking up at 10:45 am. Could her landlord have requested all of her pants in lieu of rent? Evicting someone is a costly venture for a landlord, and she could be the exact size of his wife or daughter. But how many pairs of pants would it take for her to break even with her debts? What is the dollar to pant ratio? That one was a little far fetched, even for my imagination. Why would her man-friend still have a dresser drawer full of trousers while she was left pantless? The decision between rent or pants had to based on something else.
The entire drive to the golf course was done so in silence. No Iron Maiden on the stereo, no conversation with Mikey Mumbles, and certainly no external monologue of what was racing through my mind. The same could be said for the entire round of golf. I was not participating in the normal chit-chat that such an outing usually requires. I occassionally offered a quip or sidenote to the discussions the other three were happily having, but only to subside their suspicions that my attention was elsehwere. I needed to know more about this "rent or pants" situation, and I needed to know soon.
Once we were finished playing golf, I dropped Mike back at his house a few hours later with hopes that the couple would be outside enjoying another tobacco stick. Alas, such an occurrence was not the case. I would now be forced to mull this over in my head.
I went back over the details of what I witnessed that morning. The man was fully dressed, but looked as if he had just woken up. His demeanor was that of a person dealing with the effects of a hangover, and his lack of interest in her story led me to think there may have been some sort of rift stemming from the previous evening. She was not dressed for the oustide world, yet she was not shy about being on her front porch in a nightgown. She was wide awake, but seemed a bit dazed. Her cigarette smoking did not seem habitual, but rather seemed more of a coping mechhanism for whatever was bothering her. She did not waste time removing it from her lips to talk. The information she was sharing was either that traumatizing or that important.
The two of them reminded me of a couple that would patronize a particular and peculiar hole-in-the-wall bar to which I have had at least a few unfortunate first hand experiences. They most certainly were there last night to imbibe some alcohol and partake in oulandish merriment while doing so. This particular night must have been met with a chance encounter with an unseemly gentleman or group of miscrients. The bar of which I just spoke is a mere 8 blocks from their house, and the neighborhood they would have walked through is known to contain those types of characters. They most certainly would have come across one or both of them. They would have been forced to choose to fight or flee. The Maiden man did not strike me as the type to choose the former, and Nightgown girl would most certainly not have been able to flee as fast as he. I am sure she would have been surrounded and forced into a bad situation. These unseemly characters were not interested in casual discourse about politics or religion. They wanted one thing, and one thing only. They wanted her pants. In the 80's it was sneakers, but in 2010, pants were a hot commodity. I'm sure they were Ed Hardy or some other brand that were bedazzled with a Fleur de Lis and an assortment of tribal artwork. These would make for a great Mother's Day gift for the matriarch of one of their households. At gun or knifepoint, Nightgown girl would be asked to to strip down to her underwear and give up the booty (Pirate lingo was also very big in 2010). At which point she would realize she had her rent money tucked expertly in her 34B Victoria Secret bra. If she gave up her jeans first and without a struggle, they would never come across the stash of cash. If she denied them easy access to the denim prize they so desired, they would most definitely take it by force (bunch of savages in this town). They would also be close enough to notice the "Live Pink" emblem emblazened on her brazier, and we all know those are as good as gold for Valentine's Day presents. They would request access to that as well, and find that the rent money was hidden in her chest wallet. She may not be a brilliant woman, but she knew that giving up her pants was a better decision then giving them the rent money. She could explain to her boyfriend that the jeans he saved up to buy her for her birthday were now covering the rear end of a miscrient's mother, but her landlord would not buy that story. He's heard that one before, and would feel no sorrow and show no mercy. So, she had to make a decision, it was either her rent or her pants. She chose pants. She chose wisely.