important things

On a main Szczecin street that leads to the castle near the river is a bright little coffee place . Ada and I were sitting in there yesterday with a couple of friends sipping our teas and coffees and shooting the breeze . Ada has known this couple since she was working in Poland before she came to America . I met them back in 1992 on my first trip to Poland . Michal met me at the train station and I stayed with him , his wife Roma , and their young son in their tiny but cozy apartment for a few days . Ada was back in Los Angeles but I was wandering for awhile around a bit of Europe. I stayed with the mother of a Danish friend of mine in Humleboek , Denmark , for a night or two and then went to Switzerland to visit a musician friend of mine , an American guy from New York , who lived in Switzerland at the time .

I had lost his address and couldn’t get him on the phone when I was in Denmark . His manager told me by phone that he thought my friend was in Spain . I decided to haul off to Switerland anyway . I told my Danish host that I was sure that I’d find him . He played in Montreux so I’d go there . She poo pooed the idea , called me a ” silly American ” , said she’d been to Montreux and so she knew that I had no chance of finding him without more information . After I got a pension room in Montreux I walked the main drag , saw the Western Saloon , went in and saw a publicity poster behind the bar of my friend and asked a waitress a few questions about him . You see, he was playing country western stuff at that time , so the Western Saloon was a good bet . And I was lucky , of course . I sent my Danish friend’s mother in Humleboek a photo of my friend and me from somewhere in Switzerland .

Okay . So now we should get back to Poland and the little coffee place .

I don’t know how the topic ever came up in our conversation , but the former ship’s officer mentioned a nail clipper of his that he had lent to another officer aboard ship . At the end of the cruise he asked the man to return it . It happened to be a good one and he treasured it . The other officer said that he no longer had it , but that he would buy him another one . My friend told him to shove it up ………well, you know . He wanted that one back , not just any nail clipper .

I understood exactly what my friend meant . Haven’t you ever had something , maybe of little actual value but that was in some special way important to you ? I’ve had some things like that .

One was a heavy corduroy jacket of mine. My mother had gone shopping with me and she bought it for me as a high school graduation gift , I think . I liked it . After some time , though , I went to a college party and forgot the jacket at the party . When I went back the next day the jacket was gone . No trace .

Over the next few months , people told me to buy another jacket . The thing was , though , that I had a strong feeling that I’d get my jacket back , so I didn’t go out and get another jacket . In Los Angeles area that kind of a stategy is possible ; it usually doesn’t get cold enough to need more than a sweater . So I waited . Had a vague feeling about my cordurouy jacket .

I was working at the time cleaning a couple of student apartment buildings near UCLA . One day I was upstairs in one of them , broom in hand , daydreaming a little and looking out the window . I saw a guy coming toward the building , walking down Gayley Avenue . He was about my size , maybe a little bigger , and I had the feeling that the jacket he was wearing was mine .

I hurried downstairs . I’m not sure what my plan was . As I got to the lobby area near the mailboxes the guy stepped off the sidewalk and climbed the few steps up into the lobby . He began looking at the mail boxes . I approached him.

” Nice jacket ,” I said . He thanked me . ” Can I see it ? ” I asked , and he took it off and handed it to me .

I know ; that sounds unlikely ; but it’s exactly what happened . I checked the jacket to verify that it was indeed mine . There had been a small repair on the inside of mine . Ah ! The repair was there !

I took a small pack of saltines out of one of the pockets and handed it to him . “What are you doing ? ” he said .

” This is my jacket ,” I told him . At that point he could have beaten the crud out of me and taken the jacket back ; but he didn’t .

” I’ve had it for six months ,” he said .

” That’s when I lost it ,” I said , and he immediatly and completely capitulated . So , not only did I get my cordurouy jacket back as I had the strange feeling that I would , but the guy who had it more or less walked it over and delivered it to me . No lie .

Now , I never got my special rolling pin back , but that’s another story .

1 Comment

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One response to “important things

  1. Those are great stories, Dan. I’ve had things like that disappear, but not so much reappear. Finding a friend in a random European city tops the list.

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