Sunday, March 13, 2011

Appeasing Prince Charles

Years ago I flew to another city. Because I need help getting in and out of bed etc., when I travel anywhere overnight I either have to take an assistant with me or hire someone at my destination. Hiring a temp assistant saves money, but it’s a helluva harrowing crapshoot. You never know what kind of character you’ll get.

I called some cripples I know in the other city who hooked me up with an assistant named Prince Charles (Smart Ass Cripple alias). Prince Charles was a guy in his 40s, father of three. Long ponytail and beer belly. Prince Charles turned out to be a pain in the ass. He kept trying to dictate when I would go to bed and when I would get up, even though I was paying him. (If there's anything I hate it's curfews. If I wanted the people who put me in bed to impose curfews on me, I'd check into a nursing home.) Prince Charles was often in an impatient hurry when he worked with me, ready to cut corners and blow out of there as fast as possible.

On my last night in town I was hanging with my cripple friend Joan of Arc (another Smart Ass Cripple alias). Joan of Arc knew Prince Charles pretty well and she knew that when we returned to my hotel room he would be waiting there irritated since it was well past his curfew for me. So she brought along an appeasement gift for him— some marijuana in a small film canister. She knew Prince Charles would really like that.

Back in my hotel room, sure enough, Prince Charles sat there watching TV and looking perturbed. There was a slumpy teenager with him. Prince Charles introduced the kid as his 14-year-old son, St. Thomas Aquinas. (Yet another Smart Ass Cripple alias. This is the last one, I promise).

I summoned Prince Charles to the bathroom to help me pee. Behind closed doors I said to him, “Joan of Arc has a present for you. You can take it home. I didn’t want to tell you about it in front of your son because it’s pot.”

Prince Charles’ face lit up with enthusiasm. His eyes opened wide. “Joan of Arc has pot?”

Prince Charles promptly dumped the urinal full of pee into the toilet like a tsunami and hustled out of the bathroom. “You got pot?” he said to Joan of Arc, right in front of St. Thomas Aquinas. Joan of Arc hesitated. She looked at St. Thomas Aquinas. “Don’t worry about him,” Prince Charles said. “We smoke together at home all the time.” The slumpy St. Thomas perked up. His eyes widened, just like dad's. “We made a deal,” Prince Charles said. "I let him smoke with me at home as long as he doesn’t smoke with those punks out on the street. Ain’t that right?"

The baby-faced St. Thomas Aquinas nodded vigorously. So Joan of Arc handed over the canister to Prince Charles. “You got a pipe or papers?” Prince Charles said. Joan of Arc said no.

“Oh well,” I said. “Looks like you can’t smoke it here. I guess you’ll have to take it home.”

But the driven Prince Charles would not be deterred. He called the front desk. “Please bring us some toilet paper.”

The toilet paper arrived. Prince Charles removed the paper wrapping from the roll of toilet paper. He meticulously fashioned a corner of the wrapping into a rolling paper. He rolled a tight joint. “This is how we did it in prison,” Prince Charles said. He lit it up.

And St. Thomas Aquinas smoked the joint like a pro too. He was no novice.

A few years later, I saw Prince Charles again. I asked how St. Thomas Aquinas was doing. Prince Charles rolled his eyes and shook his head in dismay. “He’s in prison,” he said. “I tried to keep him straight but he wouldn’t listen.”