As a rule life goes at one speed most of the time and then comes a big bump which could be either positive or negative. I have come across these bumps from as far back as I can remember until 2008 and since then it has been at that one speed but I am jumping ahead of the story.
I have written other chapters about Perry, who I met in 1956 in Miami Beach, and Ronnie who I worked with at The Brass Rail in New York in 1968 and we became close friends. When I moved to Memphis I kept in touch with both and saw Ronnie whenever I made a trip back to NYC but eventually Perry 'disappeared' and he wouldn't come back into my life in the 1990s and, in a way, saved me. He now lived in West Palm Beach and we would see each other every once in awhile. Ronnie came to visit me a couple of times in the 1990s and in the 2000s.
In May 1997 normal life was going on: was having problems with my car and it spent a lot of time at National Top & Glass with the 'arms' of the top having to be replaced and the top itself wearing out--Jack, the owner, always was fair with me showing what he payed for materials and what he charged me. He knew most of the automobile parts places in town and, so far, was able to replace what needed to be replaced to keep my car in top shape. I was 'paying' once again with credit cards even at one point charging groceries which was something I didn't recall doing before. In one week I won $400 with Play 4 and spent (charged) $901 on getting the car fixed. I was still out of work.
"A Chorus Line" was coming to the fairly new Broward Performing Arts Center and as long as I had charge cards I was going! On June 17 Bob, Jim, Joan and I had dinner at Wally's Tavern (closed) and then went to see the show. From my diary, "I still love it!" Bob Mitchell and I went to see "ACL" on the 19th and on June 21 Perry and I went to see the show--in diary--"Excellent as always. Perry told me that he had gone bankrupt with his last art gallery and was now living in a high rise HUD supported building in West Palm and that I should look into places in Broward."
At the end of June I wrote, "NO JOB! NO MONEY (Except some unemployment) and I am charging everything to credit cards--where will it end?" Obviously I knew I was heading for trouble but I didn't seem concerned and was just going on with my life by going to shows, movies, eating out and, yes, having the time I was having a lot of sex! I was, also, for the first time, using those checks credit cards send in the mail where the interest was outrageous. At the end of July the summary was, "Lousy month--out of work 5 and 1/2 months--running out of money, charging too much but at least the weight is okay!"
On Monday, August 4, 1997, I went for an interview with Cindy at The Crabhouse at the Fountains and I had a good feeling about the interview. Feeling positive I had the front seat on the car fixed for $120 on Wednesday and on Thursday Cindy called and told me to come in for orientation. I followed Christie, had Saturday and Sunday off, got two tables on Monday and by Tuesday I was on the regular schedule. On Wednesday I had to get 2 new tires for $180, charged of course. Funny but I have a note in my diary, "Don't particularly like the job but I need the money. The side work is ridiculous!" I had to get a complete new front seat which cost $250 which I didn't charge! Little by little the car was costing me more and more and then on August 24, coming home from work, an 18 year old girl driving her parent's car went through a red light and slammed into me. I had to go to the hospital to get stitches. All State took the car to West Palm tobe'evaluated' but no way could I let them 'total' it. Unlike me I was making mistakes at work such as ordering 5 plates of stuffed shrimp instead of 5 shrimp platters. I took a couple of days off and then had to go into work to train on Aloha software program. My eyes were black and blue with red bags underneath. I met with a doctor and lawyer.
A couple of weeks later I got call from All State and they said something like $714 for total and I just said that wouldn't work as I needed the car and couldn't afford to buy another. My lawyer called and said neither the girl or her family had car insurance nor did they have any assets that would make it worthwhile suing. I don't remember the details but I do have a note in September that All State called and offered me $1,700 and I said no. What kind of car could I buy for that money? How much would it cost to get my car in running order? I was using a rental car paid for by the insurance company. I did write them I would settle for $3,400 not expecting them to agree but not knowing what else to do.
By the end of October I was still driving the rental car for free, I was making decent money at The Crabhouse, worked with some decent people though I didn't like one of the managers Marcello, lost 12 and 1/2 pounds. Finally All State offered me $1,300, I said no, had it towed to Abanathy's who told me it would cost about $3,000 plus a paint job to get it going. I did go car shopping and the cheapest convertible I could find was $3, 950 which was at the same place I had bought my convertible 16 years ago. I decided to stay with what I had, charge the repairs and think about starting to collect Social Security as I would be 62 in 1998. I did something smart for a change and talked to an accountant who told me that if I started collecting at 62 I would be at least 81 before I got back what I had paid into SS but I would be smarter to wait until I was 65. Hey I said I did something smart for a change but that doesn't mean I followed his advice!
I was hoping the car crash would be the last negative bump in my life but it was not to be though there were a few positive, very positive, bumps also.