Posted by: Mark Nielsen | June 20, 2009

Thunderstruck Stoner Boy (AKA Hot Time in the City)

Chicago! View from the backside almost as good as the front!
Chicago! View from the backside almost as good as the front!

That is why the Great Ones speak of  / The vital need / To keep Remembering God, / So you will come to know and see Him / As being so Playful /And Wanting. / Just Wanting to help.  – from I Know the Way You Can Get, by Hafiz, circa 1370 A.D.

God really does have a sense of humor. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Friday was one of the weirder, more exciting days of the past year. I took Graham to his Red Sox fan dentist, saw my psychiatrist, helped a lost Chinese tourist find an art gallery, gave my navel orange to a stoner, and intentionally walked my dog in a torrential downpour. And wrote yesterday’s rather interesting blog about visiting my dad’s gravesite and other ritually significant experiences. And got tipsy in the evening, after a darn fine home-grilled Omaha Steak.

The only missing ingredient left to make the day more colorful was getting arrested, propositioned, or growing a magic beanstalk.

I particularly enjoyed the el ride with Stoner Boy, on my way back from the shrink’s. He was about 22, from Wicker Park (which I found out later, and which means he rode from way Northwest all the way into the Water Tower area, changed trains, only to ride way north and then west again to get to Skokie to visti his friend). I asked him, after I got on the train down in the Loop, if he knew what was the starting time for the Purple Line (formerly called the Evanston Express cuz it skips all the North Side stops in Chicago). He didn’t know, but as we talked a bit, he realized it might be a good choice for him too. So we both decided to get off at Belmont and take our chances (it was about 3:30pm). While we waited for our stop, he rolled his own cigarette, from some papers and tobacky he had in a white business envelope. If nothing else, getting off at Belmont would let him have his smoke, even if he got back on the Howard Red Line ten minutes later cuz the Purple wasn’t running yet.

When we were on the el platform, I didn’t see him for awhile. Then he came back over to me and said somebody had told him the Purple would be here in five minutes or less. Then he glanced down at my plastic grocery bag and asked if I had any snacks. I said I had an orange. He didn’t come right out and ask, but after an awkward pause, I said, “Do you need an orange?”

“Yeah,” he replied. “I had a couple rice cakes earlier, but that was about it.”

So I surrendered the orange to my poor adopted stoner with the munchies. He was on his way to Skokie, same as me, but I stopped short of offering him a car ride to his friend’s.

I also wondered — in that old time “evangelical” sort of way — if I should be witnessing to him about Jesus. But I decided against it. Maybe I just don’t wanna work that hard anymore. I dunno. I was still ministering to him, in my own private way. If I had felt that Jesus Thumb pressing down on me to say something more directly, I would have. But I didn’t sense the timing was right.

So we rode the Purple Line in adjoining seats when it came, and we only spoke momentarily on the Howard Street platform when we arrived at the end of the line (the end for me, anyway.) I told him where he could pick up the Skokie Swift, and then went up the elevator, out of Stoner Boy’s life forever.

Or not. If you’re reading this now, Stoner Boy from Wicker Park, Jesus loves you. He’s even willing to tolerate your pretentious, fake bohemian, roll-your-own smoking habit, since obviously you’re piss poor, sort of lost, and therefore automatically one of His peeps.

Just remember to say “thank you” more enthusiastically the next time a complete stranger offers you his orange and gives directions unsolicited.


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