Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Big Guy

There was a guy I knew once. He was a big guy. Really big guy. Seven feet tall, and big. I'm six foot two, but he made me look like a kid. Made me look like a little kid. His hands were huge, so big you'd think "he could crush my head if he wanted to". But he didn't want to. Mostly he just wanted to get out of the way.

Growing up he didn't want to do any of the things that people wanted him to do. He didn't want to be a star football player, or a basketball player, or play at the net in volleyball, or wrestle, or do anything like that. Later he'd been asked too many times to move heavy things, and move people's furniture, and break up concrete, and push stuck cars, and haul things around in wheelbarrows that he stopped being friends with most people. When I'd talk to him mostly he just wanted to go away from everybody.

He was really nice, but he didn't want to be around anybody. I think he'd gotten so much attention his whole life from being so big that he got tired of it, and just wanted to go out somewhere where he felt normal sized.

So he did.

His wife had left him and took the kids. It had nothing to do with his size, and everything to do with how people deal with the disappointment we feel in each other. Or maybe things just didn't work out. Who knows, I didn't really ask him about it, seemed like that was something a little too personal for us to get into.

He went out into the mountains. He was gone for years and years.

Then the mountains where he lived got crowded with people. They came for all sorts of reasons, skiing, fishing, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, looking at trees and rare birds, trying to fill up something inside themselves that is missing when they're surrounded by tall buildings and concrete. They bought up all the land around him and built houses. Mostly they were older than him by a couple of decades. They were retirees. Some of them had made enough money that they were pretty young, and others were the regular kind.

The day he left the mountains he'd gone for a walk in the morning, and one of his new neighbors had seen him on the gravel mountain road that all the retirees had paid for, and he said "Shit you're a big guy, did you play ball in college?" then before he could answer the retiree said "Hey, I've got a piano I want to shift around in my house, there'd be some beers in it for you." People were always offering him beers as payment. If he'd been the sort of guy that drank, well he would have been set. He wasn't set.

He didn't like beer. Didn't like the way alcohol made him feel. He liked marijuana, not when he was around people. When he was around people marijuana made him feel itchy and shifty and all the other sorts of nervous. He'd hold onto himself around the middle, like he was hugging his own stomach. He'd rock back and forth, not fast, but anything a big guy like that did you'd notice pretty quick. His favorite thing to do was to roll up a joint and go walk around the woods. He liked to look up the undersides of trees when he was high. He liked to do it when he wasn't high too, but he liked it better when he was high. He liked the way the light came through the leaves, and the wind moved through them and made them shiver. He liked deciduous trees the best, Catalpas were his favorite. Coniferous trees would do in a pinch but he didn't like them as much. I asked him once when we were talking about trees if he'd ever made it out to the Giant Redwoods. He said he hadn't, and then he looked sad for a minute.

He looked sad a lot. He had eyes that just looked sad. The wrinkles around the sides weren't there from laughing or smiling. He'd had to do a lot of hard work in his life and it wore him out and made him tired. He didn't like people very much, and it is harder to be happy when you don't like people very much, because there's so many people.

I think he was alright with me, because I'm pretty big. I'm on the small end of big though. People ask me to do a lot of things, but I'm happy to do them, because I like people. He was just too big though. Nobody could get their arms around him for a hug.

I never asked him about his sex life. I was brought up to believe that some things are private.

When he came back from the mountains it wasn't for very long, but I asked him to go fishing. We sat by the river, under the trees, and I fished. He didn't fish. He said he didn't like putting the hooks in the bait, or taking the hooks out of the mouths of the fish, or gutting the fish and pulling its insides out. I don't mind that stuff too much. I did when I was a kid, but I think you have to get used to stuff like that. Don't get me wrong I don't like doing things like that. I don't like putting hooks in worms. I don't like grabbing a fish out of the water and looking at the fear and terror in its eyes as it tries to suck air through its lungs and suffocates on it. I don't like pulling the hook out, and I don't like pulling its insides out, but I like to have a fish fry sometimes.

We sat by the river and I drank a beer and he rolled a joint. He smoked it and didn't offer me any, which was fine. I didn't offer him any beer. When he was high he started telling me about the mountains and how they'd filled up with people.

"Why don't you like people very much?" I asked him.

"I'm just tired of them." He said. His shoulders drooped, and I guess that made him look silly to me, sitting on the river bank like that. It was funny to see a big man like that droop, there was something of a cartoon in the action, it was so expressive. I laughed. He didn't like that, I could tell, but he didn't say anything.

"Why don't you like them?"

"I guess, I just feel like everybody's always looking at my body and thinking of things for me to do with it. When I was growing up everybody wanted me to play football or play basketball or play at the net in volleyball or wrestle or box. Then they started to get ideas about how much I could lift. My ex-wife only liked me because she felt safe being with a big guy like me, she left me for somebody else, he's only six foot eight, but they get along better. I don't know, that doesn't sound like a lot does it?" He sounded sad. He got sad a lot when we'd sit by the river and talk. I didn't mind, I think that's why he liked me. I let him be sad.

"No, it doesn't, people did the same thing to me." I said and opened another beer. I wasn't getting any bites on my fishing pole, but I didn't mind.

"Its more than that though. People look at me. They say things about me. They come up to me and think they know me. They don't ask about me."

"I ask about you." But he didn't hear me, he just looked up at the underside of the trees.

He moved out to the desert. I guess nobody gets filled up by things in the desert like they do in the mountains because he's still out there.