I looked up John Hogan in the phone book and found that he was listed without an address. So, I called the number and told him that I was in town for a few days and that I would love to see him if he were free. He suggested that we meet for lunch the next day and I agreed. Then, he suggested that we meet for lunch at McDonald's at 12:30. He said that he would wait for me in the parking lot and told me to look for his green Honda Civic.
I wasn't very excited about the lunch date. I mean he suggested McDonald's, so I figured that he was going to show up with his kids or the entire car pool or something.
I pulled up a few minutes late and had to circle the parking lot to look for his car. I was on my third trip around and starting to think that he wasn't coming when I noticed this homeless man waving for me to pull into a parking space where he was standing. I was kind of scared, but figured that I was safe as long as I kept the windows rolled up and the doors locked. Besides, I figured I owed it to John to give him fifteen minutes to show up before I took off and wrote him off as a loser by default.
I waved a thank you to the homeless guy and pulled into the space. Before I knew it, he was at my door trying to open it. I told him through the window that I didn't have any money to give him and he laughed.
"Ginger, it's me, John. This is my car right beside you. See?" He stepped aside so that I could see what must have been the very first Honda Civic ever made with three different shades of green paint on it. Trust me, none of the shades looked good!
I still wasn't sure that this fat, shabby looking guy with no bottom teeth was John Hogan. So, I cracked my window a little to talk to him.
"John Hogan, is that really you? How did you recognize me after all these years?"
This must be some kind of joke! How could this guy have ever been cute?
"That was easy, sugar. You're still as beautiful as you was in high school. I'm really glad you called me up. Now get out of that car and let's go get something to eat. I'm starved." John stepped back to give me room to open the car door.
"OK, just give me a minute. I'll meet you at the door. I need to make a quick phone call." I lied.
I didn't have anyone to call. I just didn't want him to see me do the happy dance when I got out of the car. I didn't have to spend any more time with him to see that he was going on the loser side of the board.
I got to the door and he was waiting for me, smiling from ear to ear. Showing off all the teeth that he didn't have. "What's wrong with you, sugar? You're looking like you done seen a ghost."
Quit smiling at me!
"Oh, I'm sorry. I was just thinking about how long it's been since I last saw you. You look...you look...happy."
"Well, sugar, I'm happy to see you, that's for damn sure. Turn around and let me get a good look at you."
He motioned for me to twirl in a circle and I figured that I had nothing to lose so I did.
"OOOOOeeeee! You done filled out since high school. I like that though. You know what they say...more cushion for the pushing..." John actually winked at me when he said this.
"Well, now, why don't you twirl for me?" I just couldn't resist asking.
He happily turned around and showed me a butt wiggle that almost made me throw up. Then I saw the big bald spot at the back of his head and I suddenly didn't feel nauseous anymore.
"How'd you like that view, sugar?"
There's that lecherous wink again. Double Gross!
"Oh words just can't explain what I felt. Are your kids inside?"
"Kids? Nah, they're all with their mothers. Why would I bring them out on our date anyway?"
"Did you say 'mothers'? As in more than one? I mean, you suggested McDonald's so I just assumed you would be bringing your kids to play on the playground while we talked."
He opened the door and made an exaggerated motion for me to enter as he talked, "I've got seven kids by six different mothers. You may even remember some of them from high school. I don't get to see too much of the kids or the grand kids unless someone wants some money from me. I keep telling them, 'You can't get blood from a rock so don't come around here looking for money. You get the child support and that's all I got to give.' I'm telling you, sugar, child support will damn sure kill you."
I had become frozen in place. This guy was a bigger loser than I could have hoped to find. Suddenly, for the first time in many years, I was glad to have the life I have. I said a silent prayer and thanked God for having this guy dump me in high school. I hated to think of what my life would be like if he hadn't.
"What you just standing there for, sugar? They ain't got no hostess on duty. Me and you are gonna have to order our food at the counter just like everybody else." John took off toward the counter like they were giving away free food.
I followed him to a register and he ordered three double cheeseburgers with a large fry, a medium drink and a large chocolate shake. I thought he was doing his best imitation of a gentleman and ordering lunch for me too. I was proud of the poor loser for trying to be a gentleman.
Then he turned to me and said, "You go ahead and order your food now. I need to run to the big boys room and drain the lizard." Then he walked away and left me standing there to order my lunch and to pay for everything.
I was smiling from ear to ear and eating my chicken sandwich when he joined me at the table.
"I'm glad to see that you started eating without me." John said as he pushed his way into a chair.
"I didn't think that you would mind. So, tell me how you've been." I smiled at him. Showing that I still had all of my bottom teeth.
"Well, I'm a good site better now that I've seen you again. Where have you been keeping yourself? After high school, you just seemed to fall off the face of the earth." John quizzed me as ketchup ran down from the corner of his mouth.
"I live in Florida now and I teach Kindergarten there. It's really pretty boring. What do you do?" I just had to know more about this train wreck that was sitting in front of me.
"I work in the maintenance department over at the coliseum. One
time I even got to meet Celine Dion."
"Wow, that's exciting!"
"Yeah, it was. Her toilet was backed up in her dressing room and I got called in to fix it. I tell ya, for a skinny little thang, she sure can crap a lot."
"Well, John. that's a story I just can't wait to share with my friends. Are you involved with anyone?"
"Nah, sugar, I'm all yours. Do with me as you will!"
He spread his arms out like he was waiting for a hug. I left him waiting and threw what was left of my chicken sandwich on the table. I suddenly wasn't hungry anymore.
"OK, why don't you tell me about all those kids of yours."
"Now, sugar, I don't want you to go and get jealous or anything but I had two kids before we actually graduated. Their moms were both pregnant at the same time and I had a hell of a time keeping them apart from each other and not letting you find out."
"I'm confused. Why didn't you want me to find out?"
He laughed at himself as he proudly announced that we had still been dating when he got those two girls pregnant. "What can I say? You weren't giving it up, but they was."
I couldn't help but smile. "I see. You had to do what you had to do. Thank you for worrying about how I would feel when I found out."
"Hey, I'm a horn dog, but I'm not heartless. While I was in college I got my freshmen girlfriend pregnant. Then I got my sophomore girlfriend pregnant. Then I flunked out of school."
"Well, you certainly had a lot on your mind. What did you do then?"
"I thought about going into the military, but that didn't work out cause I'm flat footed. So, I got a job selling Pontiacs over at the car lot. I was making pretty good money and everything was going great until I got the owner's daughter pregnant."
"Did you lose your job?" This story was getting better and better.
"Well, not right away. He actually promoted me. You see his daughter had never really had a boyfriend before and he didn't think anyone would ever want her cause of her being so over weight and ugly and all. He got all excited and started talking about us getting married and me becoming a partner in the car lot. So, I just stopped showing up for work and eventually he got the message."
"What was the message?"
"I'll sleep with your daughter, but I sure as hell won't marry her." He then laughed so hard that he had to slap the table.
"What did you do then?" I was afraid of the answer, but I just couldn't stop myself from asking.
"I started cooking in the kitchen over at the Phoenix Grill and that was a pretty good job. All the free food I could cook. One day I slipped and fell as I was coming out of the walk in freezer and my back got hurt pretty bad. I was out of work for a long time."
"That must have been tough. How did you make ends meet?"
"I cooked up this sweet little insurance scam. I was bringing home more money then I had ever earned. Somehow the cops got tipped off and I was sent away for a little while." John lowered his voice as he told this part of his story.
I was so happy I wanted to jump up on the table and dance, "Do you mean that you went to prison?" I tried to hide the excitement in my voice, but I don't think I did a very good job.
"Yeah, but don't let that scare you none. I didn't become no ones girlfriend and no one became mine. I did my time and as soon as my probation is up I can put all of that behind me." John sat up straight as he said this, like he was proud of himself.
"You must be so proud of that. Now, if I'm counting right you still have two more children that you haven't told me about,"
"Uummm, well, I guess I went and got ahead of myself. When I was working at the grill I hooked up with a girl that worked there and we got two kids together. The youngest one is about ten now."
"You definitely have some life story to tell. Maybe you should consider writing a book."
"Yeah, I could be a regular Stephen Kingdom."
"Who? Oh, I think you mean Stephen King." I took a quick look at my wrist and pretended I was wearing a watch. "Gosh, look at the time. I really should be going. I've got some things that I need to do before it gets too late."
"I understand. I have to get ready for work myself. They got one of them Ice Capades shows at the coliseum tonight. Hey, I can get you in for free if you'd like."
"Wow, I really wish I could go. Maybe some other time."
He seemed so proud that he could actually sneak someone in to an Ice Capades show that I almost felt bad for him.
He walked me out to my car and acted like he wanted to say more but wasn't sure how to put it. I opened my car door really fast and jumped in because part of me was afraid that he was going to try and kiss me.
As I was about to close my door he stopped it and leaned in, "Look, sugar, why don't we get together for lunch again. I'll even cook. I'd love for you to see my trailer."
"You have your own trailer?" There was a smile and a look of pride on his face that would be impossible to reproduce. "I'd love to see your trailer, but no cooking. You give me the directions and I'll pick you up there. How's the day after tomorrow? We'll go out for a really nice meal. I may even spring for one of those all you can eat buffets."
I handed him a piece of paper and he wrote down the directions. He leaned into the car when he passed the paper back to me and I was once again afraid that he was going to kiss me so I had a very bad, very fake coughing attack. He backed up and I closed the door, threw the car in reverse and took off."