Jason was an old high school buddy of mine. The nicest person I’ve ever met, and I can safely say I’ll never meet another nicer. He was The Beatles of kindness. Unstoppable. We played trumpet together in high school and engaged in a series of misadventures throughout our lives, including a night involving me dumping a box filled with fireworks that cost triple digits into a bonfire at a lake to piss off some drunk rednecks who were being assholes.
During my second stint in Florida, I was down on my luck and needed a way out. The prospect of directing an independent film in Washington practically fell into my lap and I took it, hopping in my car and making the 3,000 mile drive across the country. I made a pit stop in my hometown to find my good friend Jason, living at home with his parents and desperately needing a break from this two horse town. Appreciating the company, I welcomed him and Joe for the other half of my trip north by northwest. Along the way we stopped for a random hike in a random area, me still dressed in classy clothing from my homemade high school reunion, and listened to a stellar audiobook by the great Robert Charles Wilson.
Upon reaching our destination that was the left wing Tea Party of America, we proceeded to party like it was 1984, drinking to the point of madness despite being in our mid-twenties. One time in particular I remember Jason and I strolling downtown at the golden hour. Whichever one of us started is irrelevant. The point is soon we both began singing “Sister Golden Hair” by America, not giving a shit who was listening, until we were stopped by a light and out of the corner of my eye stood a young, attractive sassie lassie staring at us.
Immediately I stopped, smiled and gave a half-hearted apology, to which she returned a laugh, rasp light in her voice, and said we sounded good, wishing she had a voice like ours. Trying to keep the conversation afloat, I desperately looked about to find some small talk to elevate to medium talk, which resulted in a level of ignorance that to this day remains unmatched. I inquired about her cardboard sign that she was holding, with the Homer Simpson in my head screaming “Doh!”
Her face turned awkward and she held it up, reading: Homeless, anything helps. Oops was all I could think, and all I could say was “Oh, I don’t have any cash.” She waved me off, saying that was all right and she didn’t mind. The light turned green and I never saw her again during my incarceration in Washington.
Now every time “Sister Golden Hair” comes on, whether it’s by my hand or someone else’s, I think of that walk with Jason. So if, while blasting my car radio to America, the sudden death that is a buck’s antler piercing my windshield and settling between my closed eyes while I’m in mid-“Keep on thinkin’ ’bout ya”, I’ll have died thinking of my friend Jason and the embarrassed young homeless woman who I found myself sexually attracted to.