DENVER, New Year’s Eve 1984 – He wore a black long-sleeved shirt with a zip diagonal to his neck, black silk parachute pants, furry bat boots to his knees, lipstick that was red like a rooster comb, hanging earrings, a lightning rod on his right cheek and white blonde hair that was shocked on top and water fell on the sides.
I had arrived to pick up Metallica.
I first met him on Thanksgiving, when we were both in a sanatorium or a mental hospital that is now called “rehab”. The day I checked in he came down the hall to greet me and walked the path that R. Crumb outlined for his Mr. Natural: soles of feet first, head thrown back, long, sloping corridor.
“Hello,” he said. “My name is Myron.”
I loved myron. He had been in such hospitals for some time. When he was out, he would alternately spend weekends with his mother and father – both unfortunately maliciously. At 16 he was a grown man.
His health insurance expired at the end of the year, so he left the hospital. I was still in even though my doctors gave me a vacation that night, New Years Eve. My family was out of town and instead of spending the night alone, I called Myron and took him out for dinner.
My idea was to take him to a very nice restaurant for dinner, something I thought he hadn’t done much. I called a friend of mine, Blair Taylor – a wonderful man with a heart the size of a house – who owned what was one of the more clayey places in town at the time.
“Is there anything available tonight?” I asked. It was New Years Eve, I wasn’t hoping for much. However, he said that a two-top at 9 o’clock was mine.
Metallica and I headed out in my old diesel Mercedes, wearing my favorite chalk-striped suit and Myron, well, dressed as Myron.
A police officer who was doing a routine New Year’s sobriety check stopped us. He stuck his head in the car window and rolled his eyes. “Good luck with your child tonight,” he said.
At the restaurant, Blair gave Myron and me the center table. The restaurant was full of people who could afford to eat, people from Palm Springs with tans an inch deep, night owls who dripped money like fall leaves. They drank magnum champagne and only ate the corners of their food.
They were intrigued by Myron (you know how he was dressed) and realized that I must be his lawyer or agent and he, some kind of rock star. So in our own way we fit together.
Myron wanted a steak. “You don’t have steak here,” I said. “But they have veal. It’s beef and I think you might like it. “
Our meals came. Myron took his fork and held it roughly in his hand like a stick. He looked at the meat with his fork. “Myron,” I said quietly, “use your knife.”
He lifted his head and with eyes like a puppy this little boy – for it really was, under the painted lightning bolt and the shiny silk shirt – looked up at me and said, “I’ve never used a knife before.”
He had never used a knife before. I found him saying for 16 years all his careless parents had given him to eat was burgers, pizza and casseroles, nothing that ever needed a knife.
I taught him how to use a knife that night and how to hold it in one hand with the fork in the other. I taught him how to eat for himself.
After dinner, I took him to his home that evening. It had snowed, with flakes like large stars that lay like a blanket on the ground. Myron walked through the fresh snow, that little big man who now knew about dinner knives.
In the Christian calendar, the end of the year and the beginning of the next year are times for gifts of God and sightings of redemption, for revelations and revelations. I love it when the food at a table becomes a hole in the sky.
Have you ever noticed that the English word for the place where the newborn Jesus lay – the manger – is the same as the French word for “eat”, “manger”? Or that the German “Essen”, “essen”, the Latin for “to be”, “eat” comes so close?