Sitting in the car, Michaelbrent driving. I’ve asked for the third time, “who is playing on the stereo.” He says, “if you ask me again, I’m going to punch you.” So engrossed in my entry, I’ve asked him the same questing four times in ten minutes. Some people can be too touchy, can’t they. But I love the guy.
Thinking there might be a little hunger snap happening, we decide to stop at for dinner as we are returning from a location shoot in San Diego.
Ah! Applebees, great place for a nice quite wind down meal. I’m proven wrong.
We park, walk to the door, and in route, meet Victor playing Harmonica as he sits on a bench in front of the restaurant.
The guy is cool blue. Turns out he is classically trained in music, holding degrees and is a local contributor to weekly jam sessions held at Applebees. That comment rolls of both Michaelbrent’s and my shoulder and we pay a price later. I’ll tell you about that soon.
But for now I want to tell you about Victor. For some reason I’m running into a lot of past military and/or families of service men and women. I promise I am not pre-selecting my destinations or planning on who I interview. I’m truly going with the flow in working to be as spontaneous and open to situation as I can. Victor appears before us and the voice in my head pushes, “he is the one.”
So trust me this is not becoming a political blog.
Why is Victor here. By first impressing, some may think he is homeless. That is the furthest from the truth. I’m even later offended when entering the restaurant, Victor leading, two girls at the front desk show faces of judgement at his stepping into the establishment. Kills me to witness.
I’m more offended by the loud tone and language coming from the three clean-cut sports dude screaming obscenities at the TV baseball game or the drunken women ready to throw their underwear at the dude singing Guns and Roses hit, Neil Diamond style. That’s the I’ll tell you later part of the story, meal is pretty much ruined.
Why is Victor here, simply to get a cold glass of Coca Cola and to hang out on karaoke night. Makes you rethink perceptions of society. Between Victor and my encounter with Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Boad a few day ago, I’ve been educated in appreciating the men who served in Vietnam.
Better yet, Victor is a killer musician. Some nights he jams with the crowd and walks away with dinner, provided by customers or management in gratitude for his talents.
Sure, he look a little run down, maybe even hard of luck. Let me tell you a little more about him. He is a proud husband and father with two children: A son studying music and a daughter enrolled in nursing school. Even told us of his giving his son his Les Paul for school and helping his daughter pay her tuition.
Victor is no transient, living within walking distance, he tell us of his two bedroom home and honorably shows us his veterans card as he explains how he supports himself via his military pension and disability.
Oh, here we go (and honestly one of my pet peeves), people living off the system. There is no way this applies to Victor. Now 65 he speak of working up until his disabilities became too unmanageable. He tells us of his obstacles. Not in a poor me way, or as a crutch, but with a very matter of fact point-of-view. No handouts wanted, completely the opposite. Even share with us he is recovering from a stroke he has recently had, explains he troubled speaking and slumped walk. Not alcohol, but a very serious medical condition. His teach are decayed, yet his smile a grand. The guys is a tank.
We learn of his exposure to Agent Orange, Bullet Wounds and Shrapnel still in his side. He continence is lucid and his spirit kind, inquisitive and humorous. He expresses only one concern, arising when signing his paperwork, asking and I think more joking, “are you guys Communists.” I assure him we are not.
Victor leaves with us these words.
“Enjoy music, play it, learn of it, it’s very good for you.”
Victor, keep jamming!