My Own MacGyver


“I don’t like to be jerked around like a big dog on a short leash. I’ve found from past experiences, that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable.” Angus MacGyver

We always tell Kirby he doesn’t have to do anything around the house. He does not have to earn his keep. But if he decides something is going to stimulate his brain, when he’s ready to put on his MacGyver hat, by all means go ahead, do whatever you want to do.

“It challenges my brain, thinking, working,” he said. You might win some, you might lose some, but when you challenge yourself you become a better person.

It’s joyful to have him around the house. He can be a big help. Except it wasn’t when I went looking for our Christmas ornaments.

We keep them in the garage. When I went to get them, though, I found out they weren’t there anymore. The garage was completely not our garage anymore. Nothing was where it used to be.

Kirby had decided to fix one wall of the garage. We bought him everything he needed, including cement. He moved everything, only he knew where. But then he got sick, got appendicitis, was out of commission, and then it got too cold to do any more work.

“We’re going to have to wait until summer for Kirby to finish,” I told Brian. In the meantime, everything was somewhere else. “I need my ornaments,” I said. We had to search all over. Kirby couldn’t remember where he had put anything.

Kirby is a jack-of-all-trades. He might not be brilliant at anything, but if you need him to do something, he can do it. He used to be an ironworker. Before he lost his house he took it all apart and put it back together.

Since he’s been living in our basement he’s painted the house, installed a dishwasher, and put our vanity in upstairs. He fixed our front porch, which used to bounce up and down walking across it. He got it done without even bracing anything underneath. No one’s fallen through the porch, so I’m OK with that.

He fixes light fixtures. Sometimes I come home and doorknobs will be mended. One day I came home and our living room was clean. I liked that.

He used to wear his hair in a Mohawk, but now it’s grown out and gone all wild. He looks like a chrysanthemum. He looks like Einstein, except taller, thinner, and with an earring and a necklace he loves, and tattoos. His back is all tattooed, stars, fire, wolves, moons, and a wrench.

A halfway decent haircut goes a long way, but he cuts his own hair. Whenever he gets tired of what it is he buzzes it down to nothing and starts all over again

He took apart my computer, put in new parts, and it works. A friend of ours brought over a heater. Kirby repaired it, put it back together, and it’s working better than ever. Our friend had to bring the heater to him because Kirby doesn’t like to leave the safety of our house.

He sleeps most of the day away since his heart is only working at half of what it used to. He gets tired. His brain only works at two-thirds speed. A third of it is kaput. He leaves the house only to go over to Pookie’s house a couple of blocks away and smoke pot.

When he comes home he likes to reminisce about when he and Brian were young, kids together, and all the crazy stuff they used to do. And that was before he grew up. It all went schizo for Kirby after his mother died. He got a house, but never paid the real estate taxes, and lost it. He inherited twenty thousand dollars, but threw it all away.

He bought a convertible to drive his girlfriend around in. He took her to Vegas. Las Vegas is a place where you make bad decisions. You can get married there in ten minutes and then it takes you ten years to get out of it after you get home. He spent everything on his girlfriend.

Right after Kirby got his twenty grand he came over to our house. “Can you open a safety deposit box for me?” he asked.

“Why do you want me to keep a safety deposit box for you? What do you want to put in it?”

“I have twenty grand in cash. I want you to keep it for me and don’t let me touch it.”

He looked serious, sounded serious, but that didn’t last long. He started coming over our house every week. He’d ring the bell and say, “I have to get to the bank.”

“Kirby! You told me not to let you touch that money.”

“I need it, Jewels, I need it.”

“If you want to be spending it all, throwing it away, it’s not my money, it’s your money. But you’re not going to have any left the way you’re taking it out,” I told him. I was serious. “You’re taking a thousand every other day.” Safety is what happens between your ears. It doesn’t happen in a metal box in a vault somewhere.

Inside of two months it was all gone.

He could have invested what he had, let money make money for him, but he wasn’t willing to listen to us, at all. Kirby is 50-years-old. He has nothing left. He doesn’t have a girlfriend, a convertible, or a house. Nothing

Kirby needs us. He doesn’t drive anymore. We run all his errands and buy all his food. He loves that I cook for him. One day I brought home turkey kielbasa.

“Jewels, how would I go about cooking this?” he asked.

“Why don’t you just ask me to cook it?” I said.

I cooked him a plate of kielbasa and he was happy for the night.


Nine to Five


“The dog is the god of frolic.” Henry Ward Beecher

We all went to Mexico this year, everybody from the salon, like we did two years ago for my birthday. Jody, her husband, me and Brian, Mel and Don, Francie and Steve, Cheryl and her husband, and Cathy, who roomed with Jody’s sister, Dani. We all stayed at the Ocean Maya Royale.

When I was going to turn 50 two years ago, Francie had an idea.

“Why don’t we all put $40.00 a week away and all of us go on vacation to Mexico for your birthday,” said Francie.

“Sure, let’s go,” I said.

That’s what we did. We went to Riviera Maya and had a great time. All except for Francie’s husband, Steve, who didn’t go with us that year.

“He asked me why I wanted to go to Mexico in the middle of January when there was snow to ski on,” said Francie. “Are you crazy, that’s a silly question, if you ask me. You go honey. I’m going to Mexico. He took one of my daughters and I took the other one.”

Last year Brian and I went to Mexico alone. It was his fiftieth, just me and him. This year we all went together again, this time including Steve.

The water at Ocean Maya Royale was rough in January and a lot of seaweed got churned up on the beach. It was the first time we’ve gone to the ocean and I haven’t gone in, because it was ugly. Brian and I spent our days at the pool.

Every morning we had breakfast early and were at the pool by nine. We stayed there until five o’clock. That’s how we did our vacation, nine to five. We had drinks during the day and whenever we needed to cool off we went into the pool. Then we’d go right back to our chairs.

Except one day when I was floating and Don and Greg had an idea. They started pushing my floatie across the pool to each other, until some guy finally asked, “Where do you want to go?”

“Away from these two idiots,” I said. “I’m tired of being played catch with.”

There was a lot of day drinking. People started drinking the first thing in the morning, mimosas, bloody marys, margaritas. Not me. I could only do a couple of froufrou drinks if I wanted to be up and running and have fun at night. Cheryl and Greg were great day drinkers. Dani powerhouse day-drank. She started at eleven. Powerhouse drinking is two-handed drinking.

A kid from Minnesota cracked us up one day at the pool. One of the bronzed Mexican kids working at the pool joked with him, “Why are you wearing a white t-shirt with pink nipples on it?” He was bare-chested. It was because he was so pale, as white as drywall.

There was a boatload of entertainment. The Magic Mike dance was a small Mexican dancer doing a routine and then you had to copy it. One night the Mexican Beatles hit the stage. Another night was Karaoke Night, which was horrible. One Mexican kid sang Sweet Caroline, “Toching hands, toching me, toching you.” There was a duo who just could not sing. We listened to some of it, but then my ears started to bleed. It was bad.

The lusty couple was bad entertainment, too, but we couldn’t keep our eyes off them. He was gray-haired, a big belly, and 60-something. She was in her late 20s, not great looking, and wore a thong over a cottage cheese butt. They entertained themselves at the pool, pulling their chairs up the lip of the tiles, and putting on a sexual show.

She sat on top of him, straddling him, facing him. It was gross. We were horrified, but couldn’t stop watching. We were in the water once when they decided to take a dip.

“Watch out, grossness has entered the pool,” Brian warned everybody.

There were foam parties at the pool, when everybody was in the water, and they brought out a blowing machine that blew bubbles everywhere. Everyone got covered by them. It was like a giant bubble bath.

Other times we had live music and they threw balloons in the water, twisty balloons, and floaties.

One day Brian and Rich went out in a fishing boat. Somebody had told them they had been catching 50, 60 fish. It was five hundred dollars for the excursion. Brian came back with two fish. Rich came back with no fish.

We left the resort a couple of times to eat at Coco Cabanas. One of Rich’s friends had told him about it. On the way I thought, looking around, we’re going to be kidnapped and held for ransom.

But, once we got there, they had the best salsa, best food, fajitas, brick oven pizza, and the best margaritas. According to somebody the secret ingredient in the margaritas was infused pot. They were great margaritas, infused or not. Nobody was feeling bad. There were hammocks in the back that you could lay around and swing in after dinner. We all did that.

I fed their dog, who was a strange mix of Dachshund and Labrador. He liked the pizza crusts. But they caught me and told me not to feed her table scraps.

There was a little earthquake one night. Francie and Steve were up and felt the rumbling. Cheryl had a 12-hour flu and it woke her up. “Oh, my God, why is the bed shaking,” she wondered. The next night we got a text from Jody’s brother that there was a tsunami watch for Cancun. “We’re all going to die,” we thought, so we went out drinking.

They called off the watch but we kept drinking.

We love Mexico. You get the most bang for your buck there, but we’ve been thinking of trying someplace new, like Costa Rica or Jamaica. I would love to go to Amsterdam. I wonder what the weather in January is like there?

Maybe sometime in the summertime might be better.

Bad Moon Rising


“My walk on the moon lasted three days. My walk with God will last forever.” Charles Duke

Kirby and his big bulldog, Louie, have been living in our basement for half a year, ever since last summer, when Brian rounded them up. There’s not a lot he does, or can do. A chunk of his brain is missing. He can’t work. He’s got heart disease, so he spends a lot of time going to the doctor.

The rest of the time he smokes dope.

I have no issue with pot, even though neither Brian nor I take drugs. I think it should be legalized for many reasons. Smoking pot seems to be helping Kirby’s heart. The last time I took him to his cardiologist the doctor said Kirby was getting better.

“I don’t know what you’re doing, but your heart is getting healthier,” he said. “I didn’t expect that to happen.”

Kirby forget things, maybe because of his brain surgery. It’s like the first stage of Alzheimer’s.

One day he was eating an apple. He didn’t finish it, setting it down on the kitchen counter. I thought, OK, should I say something, like get your apple? No, I think I’ll wait to see where his head is.

Kirby watched some TV, did this and that, went downstairs and came back up. By the end of the day what was left of the apple was brown. I threw it away

The next morning he came up and said, “Jewels, I just had an apple. Have you seen it?”

“No, sweetie, that apple was yesterday.”

“Really? I swear I can taste it, like I just bit into it.”

“I wouldn’t trick you Kirby. It got gross. I threw it away.”

“Oh. Sorry, Jewels.”

“It’s OK.”

After Thanksgiving we had to take him to his doctor to get his medicines changed up. When we did, the next week he started vomiting. We thought it’s probably the medicine change. We got him some food and he ate, and got all fattened up again.

I called him from work.

“How are you feeling?”

“I just ate a pizza.”

“So you probably don’t want any of the Kung Pao chicken I’m bringing home?”

“I love Chinese,” he said.

After work, which was a ten to nine day, I was sitting on our living room couch, having Kung Pao, when Kirby came up from the basement, doubled over, holding his stomach. “You’ve got to take me to the hospital,” he said. Is it the flu? Is it the medicine again? Is it the pizza and the chicken?

Is it the full moon? My mom was a nurse, she worked in the ER sometimes, and whenever there was a full moon she said, “Oh, shit, it’s a full moon.”

It affects emergency rooms most. If you’re going to have a drug overdose, if you’re going to have something go wrong inside your body, if you’re going to have a freak accident, the full moon is going to make it happen. It’s crazy in emergency rooms whenever there’s a full moon

If you’re going to go nuts, have an episode, boom! You shoot for the moon and land on the roof.

I dropped him off at Fairview Hospital. The ER was packed. “Get in there,” I said. “Don’t sit around. At least get seen.” Kirby shuffled inside.

I sat in my car in the parking lot for an hour, waiting, getting pissed. I called Brian. ”I might have to drag someone out of the ER,” I said. “I’m going to have to beat someone if they don’t tell me what’s going on.”

“We’ll switch out,” he said. “Just come home. I’ll go take care of Kirby. You come home.” It was 1:30 in the morning by the time Brian got home.

“What is it, the flu?” I asked.

“I told them to stop looking at his brain or his heart and look at his gut, which is what was giving him trouble,” said Brian. “When they came back they said, he’s going to have a ruptured appendix here soon. He needs an operation.”

It was wildly inflamed. They took it out in the morning.

I felt horrible. What kind of a caregiver am I? It never clicked with me, although I knew a lot of adults have flu symptoms when they have appendicitis.

We went to visit him. He was sore and queasy, but all right. They did it laparoscopically, so it was going to be a fast heal.

On Tuesday, back at work, Regina, the new girl at the front desk, stopped me and said, “There’s an envelope here for you. It has your name on it. I keep forgetting to give it to you.”

I thought, someone probably forgot to tip me and they felt bad, ran in and dropped it off. I was on break later on, having lunch in the back room, not thinking about anything, when Regina came in.

“Here’s that envelope.”

I opened it, expecting a few dollars for me. I found a sheet of paper.

“You have opened your heart and your home to someone less fortunate and are taking care of him. I’m sure your bills have doubled, so please take this, and God Bless You.”

Inside the folded sheet of paper were five one hundred dollar bills.

Even before I was done reading I was bawling like a crazy person. I called Brian.

“What’s the matter? Why are you crying?”

I took a picture of the money with my phone and texted it to him. He called me back.

“Julie, that is so beautiful, it just shows you how good God is.”

Whoever it was went to a lot of trouble to make it an anonymous gift. We could have checked the surveillance cameras in the shop, but I didn’t want to disrespect what they had done.

Kirby was back home in our basement, feeling better. He would probably feel even better if I brought some Kung Pao home after work, something to get his spirits and strength back up.


Leader of the Pack


“I don’t think twice about picking up my dog’s poop, but if another dog’s poop is next to it, I think, ‘Ew, dog poop!’” Jonah Goldberg

When we took Baby to the Cleveland Cutest Dog Contest, it turned out that not only was he the only Leonberger in the bunch, he was the cutest of the bunch. We took Grayson, our little Lab, too. He wanted to go in the worst way, but we didn’t enter him in the contest, even though he is almost as cute as Baby.

He was happy tagging along.

The contest was at Edgewater Park. It’s part of the Cleveland Metroparks Reservation, about 150 acres of parkland and 9000 feet of shoreline on Lake Erie, fifteen minutes from where we live just south of it on the west side. There’s a fishing pier, picnic areas, and even a dog beach next to the swimming beach.

There were lots of dogs who turned out. Everyone was supposed to write a little about their dog, including their name, breed, and age. We wrote a biography of Baby for the contest, which ended up being mostly about how he has his own bachelor pad and what he does for fun. He was everyone’s favorite. We stood in the long line winding along the lake and through the parking lot to the photo shoot. All the dogs were so good, all standing in line, waiting their turn.

Brian and I scoped out the competition.

“We have this in the bag,” I told him.

It sounds horrible, but we did. I was sure of it.

“We’ll send you a free digital copy of the portrait,” somebody said from’s photography staff, after Baby sat on his haunches tall and proud for his portrait.

After he got his picture taken, I wanted to go through the line to see all the other dogs. There were more than two thousand of them. Since Brian pretty much lets me do whatever I want to do, and he, of course, wanted to see all the dogs, too, we walked back down the line, petting all the dogs as we were leaving the park.

Baby is not usually interested in other dogs, not normally. But, as we went down the line, talking to people and petting their dogs, Baby suddenly stopped. At his feet was a puppy. “Oooooh, puppy,” he thought. You could hear him thinking. He just scooped the other dog up. He fell in love on the spot.

When Baby found his puppy love everyone around us was, “Oh, my God, look how cute he is!”

“Aargh,” said the puppy mom. Baby was easily twenty times his size.

“C’mon Baby, we have to go,” I said.

Leonbergers are bred to look like lions, even though they’re sweet as lambs. But, Baby didn’t want to go. He kept saying no no no. He was being stubborn. He’s the kind of family dog who loves everyone, especially kids and puppies, even though they are themselves guard dogs and search and rescue dogs. He’s loyal and courageous, but he’s mostly a gentle giant.

He loves cuddles. Want a cuddle? He’s your dog!

A lady standing nearby took pictures of the puppy and Baby together. She somehow found me on Facebook, found my phone number, and texted me the pictures.

If you were a dog lover, it was a great day. I never checked the web site afterwards to see if we made the cut for cutest dog of all time. It didn’t matter in the end. We had a great time.

We take Baby everywhere. He’s been to parades, to the Irishfest, and the Germanfest. Everywhere we take him people take pictures of him. If I started charging a buck a picture we would be rich.

The Cleveland Indians have a Pup-a-looza night in the middle of the summer that you can bring your dog to, to the game. Our dogs are just like kids at the ballpark. They want hot dogs and ice cream, so we get them hot dogs and ice cream.

We took Baby to a Cleveland Monsters game. It was seriously cold, but he has plenty of shaggy dog hair to deal with winter. He could play in snow all day, no problem.

The Monsters are the American Hockey League minor league team of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, They play at Quicken Loans Arena downtown, the same place where LeBron James leads the Cleveland Cavaliers..

We were walking up to the arena when a Cleveland Police horse with a cop on top stopped beside us.

“I know that dog,” the cop said.

“I know that horse,” I said.

Walking in, strolling along the concourse, and inside the arena finding our seats, Baby was calm and laid back at our side. It was Pucks and Paws Night. Dog Night.

My brother had given us his tickets. There was one section reserved for everyone who had brought dogs. Lots of people who didn’t have dogs wandered into our section, wanting to see the dogs. When it got too crowded we walked around the arena and finally traded in our tickets for seats in the nosebleed section.

Baby loved the game, watching the players speed across the ice, changing direction at the drop of a hat. He was mesmerized, except when he looked straight down, which is when he got seasick

When the third period started he wanted to go down, so we went down to the first level. We stood behind the last row of the first level. A man in front of us was eating a hot dog. Baby’s head was right there, right at his shoulder, ready to get the hot dog, although he didn’t. I took a picture, and before I knew it everyone was taking selfies with Baby.

We could have made a fortune that night.

The Monsters won the game and everyone went home happy. We waved goodbye to the cop on the horse. Baby slept like a log that night, not that he doesn’t sleep like a bump on a log every night.

More the Merrier


“I once decided not to date a guy because he wasn’t excited to meet my dog. I mean, this was like not wanting to meet my mother.” Bonnie Schacter

When Brian said he had rescued another dog, I said, “No, I can’t take it anymore, we don’t have room, I can’t do it.”

We did it.

When we got Herman, who we call Hermie, he was less than four months old. He looked like a baby deer. He was scared to death of people, for good reason. His first toy was a little pig. He loved that pig. When he got bigger, and came out of his shell, he started looking better, although he started looking like the Joker.

Baby and Grayson are his best buddies, although Hermie and Veruka are always beating up on Baby. He will let Hermie and Veruka take food right out of his mouth. Baby is just so sweet and gentle. He lets Hermie sleep with him, keeping him warm.

Anyone would think Pebbles might do that, too, because she’s fleshy, but she doesn’t. She’s an 80-pound turkey. She’s gross, a fat whore. She just lets it all hang out.

When we were in Mexico, Kristen was watching our dogs, but my friend Jimmy had to take over after she got the flu. When Kristen was baby-sitting she sent us cute pictures of our dogs every day. The picture we got from Jimmy wasn’t so cute. It was a picture of Hermie lounging out on the couch with Jimmy, his legs spread-eagled. He was hanging with Jimmy, the original hanger-out.

I texted him, “Dude, don’t do that to my dog.” No bad habits, please.

Brian found Hermie on West 25th Street, near St. Malachi’s. It’s a Catholic church from back in the 1860s, tucked into what’s called the Old Angle. They do a Monday Night Meal and have a Back Door Ministry and once a month they stage a Peace Walk from the church to Public Square. Someone told Brian there was a small shivering dog on a fence near the church. Brian got a blanket, spotted him, and scooped him up.

I was driving when Brian called me. “There’s a puppy out here,” he said. “He’s tiny, shivering.”

“No, I can’t take on anymore,” I said. “I can’t do it.”

“OK,” he said. “I’ll send him to the shelter.”

“Oh, I hate to do that,” I said. “No, don’t do it, not the shelter..”

St. Malachi’s used to be Cleveland’s port church The cross on top of the steeple was always lit up to guide ships on Lake Erie into the harbor. After the church burnt down in 1943 and was rebuilt, the cross on the spire has been lit ever since, even though it doesn’t really have to be anymore.

When I got home Brian had the dog on our bed. He was blond and taupe, with a long snoot, so he looked like a baby fawn. He was afraid to move. When he saw me he peed on the sheets. I had to wash them.

At first, whenever he heard our dogs barking, he would freak out, and start to shudder and shake. But then he got curious and started going to the baby gate that keeps the dogs out of the dining and living rooms and away from the upstairs rooms. After a few days we could tell what he was thinking, which was, you guys are OK.

We started letting him mingle with the other dogs, who at first were, no, no, we’re fine, we don’t need anybody new, but he persisted, and played with all of them, who accepted him, even Pebbles and our Husky, and he definitely came into his own.

No matter how much he’s grown since we got him, when I take him with me to visit my step-dad and mom’s house, they right away think he’s too thin.

“Oh, he’s so skinny,” said my mom.

They can’t stand it, so they started feeding him potato chips and ham. That’s what they feed Izzy, the Pomeranian I gave my mom to keep her company. They feed Izzy donuts, too. They just can’t stand to see a skinny dog. Izzy’s dog food is always spilling out of her bowl because she doesn’t eat it.

She waits for creampuffs, instead.

In the summer we started taking care of Kirby and his dumb dog, when Kirby absolutely needed a place to get back on his feet. After he and Louie moved into our basement, we had eight dogs in the house, including Hermie. With everything else going on, I needed another dog like I needed a hole in the head.

My mom was having teeth pulled and replaced by dentures. It was going to be better for her, but it was a struggle for me, getting her to go the dentist’s office. Whenever I got her there, and we were leaving afterwards, and I asked her – “Are you OK, mom?” – the answer was always never good.

“Jay, I am never going to the dentist again,” she would say.

When my shoulder started hurting, I went to Orthopaedic Associates in Westlake. After they examined me they told me I needed a cortisone shot.

“You have bursitis of the rotator cuff,” my doctor said.

When I went back Hermie kept me company. They stuck a huge needle into my arm. Back in the car Hermie’s eyes got big and round.

We still don’t know what kind of a dog Hermie is. We asked our vet, but that wasn’t much help. I was hoping he wasn’t going to be much bigger than when we found him, but he outgrew himself in no time. Eight months later he is large. At first I could hold him in one arm. Now I’ve got to have two hands to hold him back, and one of those hands is attached to my bad arm.

He’s a wonderful dog, but he can be a load.

Kirby and Louie


“To his dog, every man is Napoleon, hence the constant popularity of dogs.” Aldous Huxley

Kirby is a great guy, the baby of the family, the apple of his father’s eye, and a mama’s boy, so definitely a spoiled boy. He and Brian grew up together. Brian has been friends with Kirt since they were in the womb.

Kirt’s father died of heart-related issues, and then his mother died eight or nine years ago. His sister took everything when their mother died and more-or-less left him with nothing. They never got along. Kirt asked Brian if he could put his house in Brian’s name. His mother had bought the house for him and he was afraid his sister would take it, too.

“Oh, my God,” I told Brian, don’t do it. “Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it.”

“Kirt would never screw me over,” said Brian.

“He would never screw you over intentionally,” I said. “But, let’s face it, Kirby is Kirby, always out to make a buck.” Kirt is Kirby, but we call him Kirt most of the time. He is nuts. One time he was growing pot in his basement, another time he was making meth, not using it, just growing it and making it and selling it.

Guess what, Brian put his name on Kirt’s house. I told him, this is the worst thing ever.

Guess what, it went bad.

Kirt blew whatever little money his mother left him and then stopped paying his property taxes. We started getting delinquency notices in the mail. It piled up on Brian and me.

“I’m going to kill him, I swear to God, I’m going to kill him,” I said. “I’m not losing our house because he’s an asshole.”

Brian finally talked to him.

“Dude,” he said. “I’m selling your house.”

Brian sold it, paid off the taxes, there wasn’t anything left after that, and that was that.

Kirt stopped by our house one day. I couldn’t even look at him. “I know you didn’t try to do this, but you’re an idiot,” I said. “Brian and I almost divorced over you. You’re a major fucking idiot.”

After that we lost contact with Kirt. Years went by. The next thing we knew, Brian heard that Kirt had had a massive heart attack. He ended up in the Cleveland Clinic, where they did a quadruple bypass. As soon as he recovered, because he had no insurance, they said, we fixed your heart, bye. He was out the door.

Three weeks later he was back.

“I’m not feeling right,” he said. “Something’s wrong, something’s wrong.”

They found a blood clot aneurysm in his head. They had to remove the top third of his brain. He has two-thirds of a brain left. They discharged him again.

“Where the hell is Kirt?” asked Brian.

He set out to find him. He found him living in Ashtabula, in a dirt-floor shed, living with his dumb-as-a-rock star two hundred pound American Bulldog, Louie.

“This is my life,” said Kirby. He couldn’t work anywhere. If anyone were to hire him they would be liable for his mistakes.

“Can we take him in?” Brian asked.

“Brian, my mom just got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I cannot take on anymore, no,” I said.

We found friends of his to take him in. Brian got power of attorney so we could make sure his medical stuff got done. But, Kirt’s friend, someone he had gone all the way from elementary school together through high school, didn’t work out. He was a heavy alcoholic and his wife was stealing Kirby’s medications for her own recreation.

What the fuck is wrong with people?

I finally told Brian, bring him here. “At least we’re not going to take advantage of him.” Brian went and got him and his dog. He loves Louie. When he was having his heart attack Louie sat on his chest and kept him warm until somebody finally found him and the ambulance came. He wasn’t going to go anywhere without his dog.

At first Kirt and Louie stayed upstairs in our guest bedroom. After a week, blech, it was too close for comfort. It was time for a new plan.

“How would you like it if I made an apartment for you out of my basement?” I asked him. “That way I have a little more privacy, you have a little more privacy.”

Kirt loved the idea. My dogs, whose basement it was, loved the idea. They loved having Kirby down there with them.

We took out the couch our dogs had destroyed, put in a fridge, and a king-size bed. I told the dogs the bed wasn’t for them. “You’re not capable of having anything nice, you tear it up.” They started totally bumming on me.

Then Kirt piped up, “Oh yeah, they all get to sleep with me.”

“You know what,” I said, “it’s done, it’s your apartment.”

We made the apartment for him. He’s got his fridge, his cupboards, his bathroom. We go grocery shopping for him, take him to the doctor, and we are trying to get him on disability He’s been turned down twice, even though there’s nobody who needs disability more than him. He’s only got part of a brain and his heart works at way less than capacity.

“Third time is the charm,” they said.

He finally got it, but then they said it has to be reviewed, and the review board can’t get to him for the next eighteen months. They pay retro, they told us, but who cares? He could be dead before that. The Cleveland Clinic told him after his heart surgery he wouldn’t last a year.

A year-and-a-half later he’s living in my basement. At least as of right now.

One day I told Brian, I haven’t seen Kirby all day. “Go make sure he’s alive. Just go down. I don’t want to go there.”

Brian went downstairs. The dogs started barking.

“Kirt, you’ve got to clean your apartment,” I heard Brian telling him. “Keep it clean.” My dogs came running upstairs. I opened the back door and let them outside into the backyard. Louie stayed downstairs with his Napoleon.

Spoon in the Jam Jar


“Baby, every dog on the street, knows that we’re in love with defeat, are we ready to be swept off our feet, and stop chasing every breaking wave?” U2

I first heard U2 in the early 1980s. I started with War, which was huge. Boy came out before that. Once I heard War I went back to that and October. My brother got on the bandwagon when he heard me listening to them.

You can’t help becoming a fan once you listen to U2.

The same four band members have been in the band since 1976, Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, Jr. They are the best rock-n-roll band in the world. It’s no blasphemy. Don’t blaspheme Bono and U2!

Bono’s name is Paul Hewson and the Edge’s name is David Evans. Nobody calls them Paul and David. Adam Clayton’s nickname is Sparky and Larry Mullen’s nickname is Jam Jar. Nobody calls them that. Bono is Bono and the Edge is the Edge. Adam and Larry are Adam and Larry. It’s just the way it is.

A lot of U2’s music is about Jesus. A lot of people don’t know that. There are not a lot of songs that Bono sings that don’t either talk about or mention his name. Being a fan for a long time I thought it was the coolest thing ever that the song ‘Until the End of the World’ is an imaginary conversation between Judas and Jesus and what Bono was thinking about the Last Supper.

When I started listening to them they were the only band that would go on tour and read the Bible instead of drinking. The only party boy on the bus was Sparky..

Bono lost his mother at a young age, and so did Larry Mullen, who is the drummer. They leaned on each other. When Larry’s mother died Bono was there to help him.

One of the cool things among the many cool things about Bono is that he has given over half of his earnings away to different charities, like Red, which is about the fight against AIDS in Africa, and the One Campaign. Even though he’s got millions, he’s given millions away, because he believes in tithing.

There aren’t too many people like him.

Bono is still married to his high school sweetheart, which is impressive in this day and age. His favorite book of the Bible is Isaiah, which used to be called the Fifth Gospel. Isaiah was a prophet who came out hard and fast prophesying about Jesus’s coming.

I identify with U2 because I was brought up religiously and those guys sing about somebody I worship. The music is good, too.

I saw them live for the first time in 1987 when they came to Cleveland and played at the Municipal Stadium on Lake Erie. It was the Joshua Tree Tour. The Edge says U2 is a live band. I was dead set on going to that concert.

I was in beauty school. I didn’t have tickets and I didn’t have any money, but I was getting there come hell or high water. I saved up all my tips from bartending.

My girlfriend and I parked on East 9th Street and walked all the way to the stadium. I figured scalpers were going to nail us with the price, but we were ready. A guy was standing in the lot near an entrance with tickets.

“You guys need tickets?”

“How much,” I asked.

“Face value.”

His friends hadn’t shown up. They were floor seats, on the baseball field outfield grass.

“Hell, yeah, we want those tickets,” I said.

I couldn’t believe we were on the floor, close to the stage. I was so excited. The Plain Dealer music critic was in the row behind us. I know she was behind us because the next day our picture was in the newspaper with a blurb about how obnoxious U2 fans could be, not staying in their seats, obstructing the view.

I was just so excited that I never sat down. Who sits at a concert? Get up!

Then a fight broke out. Who goes to a U2 concert and gets into a fight? Freaking morons! After it got sorted out we were all moved forwards and got better seats, anyway.

The concert was great, but the fight was ridiculous. It’s a band that sings about love and peace and idiots are going to start fighting? Ridiculous!

It was all so great that, even though I wasn’t drinking, I have almost no memory of the show. I remember running into my brother and his friends, though.

“Can you give us a ride back to our car?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he said. He had no idea we had parked so far away. We sat for hours in traffic that barely moved.

“I’m going to kill you,” he said.

I’ve never missed U2 whenever they’ve come here. I’ve seen them in Miami, Virginia, Detroit, too, although I missed going to the Pittsburgh concert with my brother a few years ago. I was having surgery. He got mad about it.

It was Halloween when I saw them in Detroit. Everyone was dressed up. We got high. There were guys dressed like Devo, all of them in orange jumpsuits. I thought it was a poster, not real people.

“Check out that poster, dudes,”

Then they all started moving and dancing.

We were walking down a hallway and a guy dressed like Elvis was in front of us. He kept turning around and looking at us. I tried to focus on him. He finally whirled around, facing us.

“Do you know who I am?” he asked.

He knew we were all completely stoned.

It was a great show, although it might have been greater if it had been the show at the Palace of Auburn Hills one March twenty five years ago during the Zoo TV Tour when Bono ordered 10,000 pizzas for the crowd.

That’s putting your money where your mouth is.