When Listening is Enough (a 30:30 report)
And now, live from the outskirts of Oklahoma City, here comes the Benny Bragg Comedy Hour. Or some such thing, the kind of time-waster most people in the States would be happily satisfied with. Most. Becky Franzine, thank goodness, doesn’t even want to live here cause she’s always dreamed that Portugal or Greece would be better places and it’s for sure every place has some issues but not like here, come on, the Benny Bragg Comedy Hour? And lots of people watch it? And like it?
Becky likes to shake her head, it’s a slight move and you have to be looking for it though all her roommates and good friends are already tuned in to that body language statement, it lives between (suggesting) what an asshole and oh well and a bit of la-dee-da which she picked up from the Annie Hall movie and immediately walking out of the theater – the Nuarte on Wilshire – she claimed that slight shake for her own number one with a bullet comment on life moving forward, so there is some of the Annie H thing in that miniature head shake and coming in the door ten minutes ago was Daryl Huxtable who is a roommate and a good one, that’s partly because he’s perfectly happy leaving all the others alone and giving people space and giving people quiet and giving peace a chance and all those appropriate human behaviors, and (so Becky’s alone) out here in the bright living room with all the used couches and big soft chairs and all the windows and the windows are open which is a big benefit of living where mosquitos aren’t welcome by the climate or the bug police and the breeze coming off the ocean about 14 blocks away is ruffling all the curtains and there is something like a dance in the living room here on Idlewild Way in Culver City and Becky is friends with a guy named Doug who is the head of all disability services and chances and upgrades and better lives and all the ways he describes it, yes a true Culver City formal employee – the city cuts his checks – and of course city hero and he is always calling Becky and they meet for coffee and sometimes ice cream and sometimes she’s like an attendant for him when he brings the power chair down to the walkway and they hit up Wonder Pizza for a slice,
And Becky goes there in particular because another of her roommates – the one and only Mackie Frost – will on occasion work a late shift there when one of the kids has called out for party reasons or even (rarely) genuine sickness, and here it is a Wednesday and Becky has the day off from the hospital where she is the Director of Candy Stripe services and mostly for her this means she is a cheerleader and honest to God counselor and even like a psychiatrist sometimes like when one of the new girls comes in for ‘orientation’ in Becky’s office – which also has a bunch of windows with curtains and breezes because that was a condition Becky set for offering her employable services to Villary General (the hospital) – and there is some required paperwork and a checklist of did the new striper hear about this and that but you would be absolutely blown away if you knew how many times Becky isn’t even a quarter way through that dumb list, most of which was made up by people in their fifties maybe a hundred years ago meaning it’s as relevant as two-hundred year-old cat shit, and anyway the thing is she’s not even to ‘reviewable policy statement (number) seven’ when the new kid starts blurting out her deepest secrets and so many times these are not happy facts, nah, you’d be amazed the amount of young girls who live a life of suffering, and especially if you are from the outskirts of Oklahoma City or Lincoln Nebraska or Altoona PA or Newburgh New York or just about anywhere that isn’t southern California with amazing beaches and the greatest ocean and waves which can be surfed and ridden any different styles and no mosquitos and not very many white supremacists and so how is it possible, people from all those other places and lots more not listed here, how is a possible (they may wonder) a girl of say age 14 or 15 feels like life sucks and what’s the point and no one gets me,
And those kinds of emotional confessions, and when they not only leak out but come barreling out Becky leans back because now she’s not some supervisor reviewing stupid required shit but now she is a life-saver and maybe like St Francis bringing light where there are shadows, which is a poster up on the wall of another roommate named Wanda who’s favorite thing is to walk down to Lincoln Blvd and stick out her thumb and see where does her thumb take her this week and that can end up in San Diego or Dana Point or, once, Vancouver, WA when the dude who picked her up pulled a U-turn and booted it up the 5 but Wanda wasn’t scared, she carries mace, and it turns out the guy was lonely and just wanted to talk and so a captive listener for 11 hours is cool and anyway Wanda has that poster on her wall and it comes to (Becky’s) mind when here’s another member of the female youth society moaning in the office about why is life so tough?
And Becky, like I said (and my name is Milky Dent, which you know, and I am a 28-year old young white guy originally from Orleans Massachusetts which is most of the way down Cape Cod, now living in Venice Beach) so like I said Becky becomes something like a therapist and she sometimes even arrives home after working at the hospital and opens a Coors and sits in one of the big chairs in the living room and watches the curtains do a dance thing and asks herself if maybe she shouldn’t catch the 37 bus out to Westwood and head over to the UCLA registrar’s office and see if maybe she can’t get enough life credits to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychiatry because, and her roommates and other good friends have told her this more than once, she is a way better understander of trouble and youth problems (than regular psychiatrists) and has become, which this was never in the job description they showed her when they were hiring her at the hospital, a world-class listener and believe me (Milky) they (world-class listeners) are few and far between and like that saying goes, worth their weight in gold doubloons,
And so it’s a Wednesday and Becky has it off and she has just been sitting in the living room not exactly meditating but not so far off from that and she has four roommates, the three I told you about and another woman named Mary Jones and they all have a date to go on a long slow hike from their cottage in Culver City down Venice Blvd all the way to where it ends at the walkway and then hang a right and head down to Wonder Pizza and sit at one of the round outdoor tables – which are permanently fixed into the tar lot which Wonder Pizza is so lucky to have considering most of the boardwalk businesses are jammed up against each other – and hopefully one of those tables will be empty and they will all order plastic cups of Hamm’s beer which is what Wonder has as a tap offering and some combinations of pepperoni slices and garbanzo-infested salads and Becky may tell them about the latest potential candy striper and all her worries of the world and the others will shake their heads (bigger than Becky does, remember that?) and then they will have a group conversation which generally boils down to we can save the world just by being kind and listening.