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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hope and the Dispersal Thereof

I once found myself in the Caribbean with my brother.

I believe it was St. Lucia.

Have you ever hung out with Kevin? You should. He’s one of the more sincere BS artists you’ll ever meet. Kevin is the devil’s advocate, the turd in the punchbowl, the handsome man you suspect may be pulling your leg.

He is. Pulling your leg, that is.

Except when he isn’t.

Both Kevin and I tend to attract lonely people, and we did on this vacation. Perhaps it was because we were having fun, perhaps because we looked like people that would listen, perhaps because we looked like people who were drunk.

It’s not important. What was important was the moment Kevin asked Jean-Claude to sat down.

Jean-Claude was a very black man with very white teeth, a man whose face spoke of sadness. He tried to sell us a variety of cheaply made trinkets in a rush of words, more than three-quarters of which whistled into one ear, around my brain, and back out my other ear without my understanding them.

Kevin threw himself into the moment.

“What am I gonna do with this stuff?” Kevin asked. “Seriously. Jean-Claude, aren’t you tired, brother? Let’s relax. You want a beer? Here, you run and buy Pearl and I here a beer, and buy yourself one, too. You wanna?” Kevin handed him a twenty.

Jean-Claude’s sad eyes took in the money, looked at Kevin and I, and left.

I took a long pull off one of the beers we already had in front of us. “Think he’ll come back?” I asked.

“Of course he will,” Kevin said, lifting his arm to display a dozen necklaces. “I’ve lifted half his inventory.”

Sure enough, Jean-Claude returned.

And stayed.

We had three beers apiece with Jean-Claude, or “Jay-Say” as he insisted we call him, on Kevin’s dime; and while his island patois was not easy on these Minnesotan ears, his story came out as the hour grew later and the steel drums played. His mother had just died. He had three younger sisters still in school. He worked during the day, sold trinkets at night.

He looked up. What did we think? He got by, but it wasn’t enough. Should he go back to school?

Kevin put a hand on J-C’s arm. “Brother, you need to go to school. Make yourself the go-to guy here. Work on your English, give ‘em that big smile of yours, and use that brain. It’s all going to be okay. I know it. Say it with me: it’s going to be okay.”

J-C smiled. “It’s all going to be okay.”

“That’s right,” Kevin said. We raised our last beers, clinked.

We left about an hour after that. With handshakes and hugs, J-C went his way and we went ours.

We walked away from the outdoor bar. “That was real nice,” I said, “all those things you said to J-C.”

“Wasn’t nice,” he hiccupped. “Was true. It’s all true, and I hope he believes it like I do.”

We stopped walking and stood for a moment, a streetlight overhead, the ocean in front of us. Strange Caribbean stars blinked overhead.

Kevin, a full foot taller than me, smiled down.

“It doesn’t cost anything to give people hope, you know.”


powdergirl said...

I like Kevin already : )

savannah said...

“It doesn’t cost anything to give people hope, you know.”

what a perfect thought to start the weekend with, sugar. i like your brother, too! xoxoxoxo

Gigi said...

What a beautiful sentiment and so very true! Thanks, I needed that.

Jolene Perry said...

What an awesome happy story.

Madame DeFarge said...

A good thing to say. I wonder what happened to him in the end?


I just read your recent posts and I have to say, you are obscenely talented.
I spoke to Kevin and he says you need to approach a publisher and "give ‘em that big smile of yours."
I concur.
X David

Bossy Betty said...

I like Kevin too!!!

mapstew said...

Kevin, surely an Irish name?
I like him, and not just because he's your brother. Hope you are feeling better, have a good weekend. :¬)


Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

Pearl, you are obscenely talented!
And a snappy dresser :)

Kevin is awesome


Sam Liu said...

This is such a heart-warming tale, Pearl. I've been to the Caribbean myself, and the people there are so wonderful, and they really are paid very, very little for what they do.

Kevin is right. It costs nothing to give hope, and hope, above all else, is what matters, what sustains us. A beautifully written, charming, poignant and wise post.

Sweet Cheeks said...

If only there were more Kevins (and Pearls) in the world...it would be a better place!

Pietro said...

Beautiful post. Hope surely gives us strength, but it must not be too abstract.

lunamother said...

Simple. Beautiful. Perfect.

Mr C said...

terrific. love it.

Andrea said...

I loved this post. Hope. Yeah, we all need a little bit of that these days.

a Broad said...

Trust you to have a lovely brother like Kevin.

( I have a brother named Kevin too :)


i've always loved the name kevin too - it just speaks to me somehow - and seems a very fitting name for your brother! am hoping you are feeling all better now - and in the event not, i've left you some nice homemade chicken soup and hot bread on your front step! grab it quickly so it stays hot! ;)

Karen said...

So true.

injaynesworld said...

So,is Kevin single? ;)

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

Damn, Jayne took my question!! Can I, at least, buy Kevin a beer?

GTChristie said...

That is truly BS for the ages. WTG Kevin. Awe. Some.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

What a great story! And Kevin was so right.

Flea said...

So you think JC finished school?

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Argent said...

One of your best posts EVER! My brother is as glib a BS-peddler as you'll ever meet, but does not employ his 'talent' is such a useful way. You really drew me into that carribean night.

Dave King said...

Excellent post. Kept me wondering all the way.

white rabbit said...

The turd in the punchbowl?

I think you need a word with your catering people.

Pearl said...

Kevin is a lovely person with a quick wit and a smile and hand ready, particularly the downtrodden.

My parents lived in the Caribbean for almost five years in the early part of their retirement, which is surely a story all to itself. They ran a catamaran out of St. Lucia six months out of the year. J-C DID go on to school and managed to keep his sisters with him. My parents, who are Catholic, saw them in church (the girls, anyway) and brought toys and shoes from the U.S. to them and their little friends.

Kevin's had the same girlfriend (never married) for a good 25 years now.

And Kevin IS an Irish name, isn't it? My grandmother was "Scotch-Irish", which I've come to learn is some sort of code for "Protestant". Her family disowned her -- as my grandfather's family disowned him -- when she married my grandfather, a Catholic. He was so angry he even went so far as to change the spelling of our last name. :-) Angry days!

dogimo said...

"To speak the truth is easy and pleasant."


Lisa said...

Kevin speaks the truth. Love this post, Pearl.

The Retired One said...

I have an old lady crush on Kevin. What he said? Perfect!

Symdaddy said...

A Grandma half whisky and half Irish. I like it.