The Priest and Green Bananas

I met Charles in group at the Drug Treatment, where we were encouraged to share.

Charles didn’t need to be encouraged to share and was usually the first to speak. He would get just inches from your face when he spoke. He was a close talker.

They asked us to think about our most embarrassing moment and if possible to please share with the group of 15 men.

Charles shared about the time he got caught stealing 2 avocados from a Rabba Fine Foods by the manager. After the manager was finished humiliating Charles by announced to those present. “This is a Thief! This is what a Thief looks like.” The manager then told Charles to leave his store. As Charles got to the door, the manager threw an avocado and hit the door jam just above Charles head.

Charles exclaimed to the group in what I assumed was an attempt to illicit sympathy. “Those avocados were damn hard; they weren’t ripe yet.I could have been injured!’

I had missed the detail that Charles was dressed in Cassock and Clerical collar and was laughing so hard that tears were stream down my face.

Charles asked me what I found so funny.

I asked him if he stole green bananas.

Dennis Mantin

Millie

Millie was the cook at the Renaissance Treatment Center, that catererd to men with alcohol and/or drug issues… I met her there in the kitchen where I washed dishes during my stay there in 2004.

Millie looked over the men every night during supper; she studied the faces and then returned to the kitchen.

During my 28 days stay there; being in the kitchen with Millie is where I felt most safe and at ease. I asked her one time why she always looked over the faces of the men each night.

Millie smiled, “I have a son Kevin who has a problem. I always pray that someday he will make it here.”

Kevin lived on the sidewalk at Adelaide and Bay for 4 years. I met him in the late 1990’s. Kevin had the word N-I-G-G-E-R written on the sidewalk in chalk. He told me that stood for, ‘Never is God giving evil respect.

I asked Millie why Kevin was living on the sidewalk. She told me, “After his first year of teachers college he decided to take a year off… I told him he have to pay rent on a room he shared with his brother. He said he wasn’t paying for half a bedroom.”

I wonder, though it’s none of my business… If Millie knew how it was going to turn out; would she have still asked Kevin to pay rent?

Kevin did get sober.

Dennis Mantin

Gravity

His nickname was ‘Gravity.’

I never asked him how he achieved this moniker… I assumed he gave it to himself as a sort of self tribute to the strongest force on earth which I again guessed is how he viewed himself.

He peddled drugs with a partner in crime at a warehouse on Front Street that had been converted into a homeless shelter for both men and women that was called ‘Street City.’ I called them, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

I walked away after a brief 2 years visit that ended in 2001 and never saw Gravity again.

Dennis Mantin

The Hollywood Agent

He spoke nonstop from the second he entered my car into his phone to various people; discussing New York parties, awards and stars…

The only time he acknowledged my presence was to ask if he could use my phone charger.

It happened at dusk: A car Accident!! 500 feet ahead; just enough room and time to react- turning, spinning, brakes screeching! In the 2-3 seconds of successfully avoiding the accident, the Hollywood Agent was yelling beside me…

“I don’t want to die! I have a wife and kids!! I don’t want to die!”

It was a turning point for both of us.

We became friends for a few hours afterwards… We shared honestly/Zero bullshit.

I knew in that moment when he was vulnerable and unsure; that his family was what was important to him-The parties, stars and awards meant nothing. I loved that.

He asked me who I was.

I told him that I was an addict and an alcoholic… and that I couldn’t stop. He told me that he was an addict and an alcoholic… 17 years sober.

I couldn’t imagine 17 years and in 5 weeks I will be there.

Sometimes miracles happen in the oddest of ways.

The Madness

The Madness of a quiet still Sunday morning, no longer has sway with me. Just past sunrise they lie sleeping… All except Ned the cat who seems content with brushing up against me.

I have almost 2 decades of dare I say, “Clarity.”

Dealing with the madness of life head on; one day at a time, one step at a time. In spite of all of this; mistakes were made. I don’t dwell on these, I just take the lesson, acknowledge not to repeat and move on.

Dennis Mantin

All Sacred Ground

Bosch said, ” It’s all sacred ground… Doesn’t matter where you find it, in an unmarked grave or under a fancy stone… It’s all sacred ground. “

Dylan said, “If the Bible is right, the world will explode.”

I don’t have anything further to add except I believe we are very privileged just to be here…

Dennis Mantin

Setback

It took time to see the setback as a gain. I no longer see these details as victories or defeat…

One day at a time has transformed into- Every day is a victory of life and experience not to be mistaken for something trivial.

There is peace in the valley… finally!

Dennis Mantin

The Crank

I feel it before I speak.

Nothing good is coming…

H.A.L.T. I ask myself if I am any of these things? (Hungry-Angry-Lonely-Tired)? I am all of these things.

I will grind it out and shut up until this passes.

I think about what George said years ago… “We talk about loneliness so seldom that H.A.L.T. could be referred to as H.A.T.”

Dennis Mantin