Nick and Serena hooked us up with a catering business they worked for that was doing a seven week gig providing food to Chicago White Sox and L.A Dodgers in Phoenix, Arizona. We rented a room from a guy off craigslist.
First off, house life was a refreshing change from camp life. It had an actual bed that was ridiculously comfortable, a refrigerator (which means ice cream, hooray!), and when you cooked food you didn’t reek of smoke days after. But house life always came with inevitable weirdness. For starters the 56 year old man who owned the house didn’t work and simply watched daytime talk shows all day, and at night watched middle school dramas. And another 60 something guy who was renting the room right next to us would bring homeless girls back to the house late at night and I’d wake up to violent love screams –charming. Every minute I was in that house I felt like the two guys were always checking me out, I’d look back at them and they’d have their heads turned in my direction nodding and smiling at each other. Plus the other renter smoked cigarettes in the house. As a result of all of this Fred and I joined a climbing gym, went to the park, and played at a trampoline gym after work hours.
The smoker renter moved out. It was just Fred, the owner, and I living as a family. One day Fred and I were just sitting in our little room doing not much of anything when a 79 year old man suddenly appeared in the doorway. He just stared at us, his hands out reached towards us like he was telling a story. Fred got up and said hello and shook the guys hand to wake him out of his suspended stupor. We heard the owner of the house call “Oh that is Hans, bye I am going to the gym!”
Okay so this random senile old man was Hans. We learned he wasn’t just kind of weird and old, but also incredibly drunk. We took care of him the whole night, not really knowing who this guy was or what he was doing in our house. Fred made us all tea and we sat with our new, stranger, friend as he told us bilidgerant drunken slurs in his thick German accent about how he was a professional soccer player, he cheated on all the women in his life,we will go to Germany by way of U-boat, and of course that he really enjoys drinking –or having a flu shot, as he called it. He was hilarious and eccentric –“please don’t mind my sense of humor” he’d said over and over. He and I sat on the couch together and he told me repeatedly while grabbing my shoulder with his gimp mangled hand that he would not molest me, of course that made me feel so much better. Whenever Fred gave him playful attitude he would yell jokingly, that he was going to “beat the shit out of you, young man!”
Don’t get me wrong, he was a great, funny, and wildly entertaining man but he was crazy, senile, and a really bad alcoholic. He moved into the spare room within a few days and didn’t move from the couch all day where he watched old westerns. Somehow he thought Fred and I were like his butlers or something. Always telling us what he wanted to eat and when he had laundry that needed to be done. We never waited on him like he wanted and he’d pout when he saw we didn’t make a plate of dinner for him. Good thing we’d eat steamed kale and peas for dinner or he might had stolen our plate! “You go eat your rabbit food!” he’d say.
Hans never knew our names even though he stayed there for a couple weeks. He would only ever call Fred “young man” and I was always “his wife” even though we told him we weren’t married.
He was certainly a character never to forget! And despite his craziness and drinking we loved him and we always quote his infamous rattling’s –you know how drunk people are; saying the same thing again and again.
He left our life much like he entered. We came home from work one day to a Hans free house, no western movies on the t.v. The owner of the house explained that Hans’s girlfriend decided to take him back into her house if he quit drinking. Of course old habits die hard and we got a call from her that night that he was laying in the back yard, refusing to come into the house until she bought him alcohol.
Pretty amazing the people that drift in and out of your life.