The Last Time I Saw Doug
By: Garland Davis
Just about the only friend I had at school during my elementary years was named Douglas. Doug was a preacher’s kid. He was short, portly, wore coke bottle lens glasses, slobbered, and had a bladder condition that caused him to have to piss about every half hour, often times in his pants. The other kids in school honored him with the name “Pissy Pants.” I had shit my pants the first day of first grade. I guess, it became natural that “Dookie Drawers’ and “Pissy Pants” were forced into a friendship of sorts, primarily, because none of the other boys wanted anything to do with us unless they got a chance to beat us up for being smart, the teacher’s pet, or just because they could.
Doug was a couple of years older than me. I met him when I was promoted from first grade to third grade a week after I had started school. My grandmother had taught me to read and write and rudimentary arithmetic when I was four and five. This caused an immediate desire for the bigger boys in the third grade to welcome me by kicking my ass for being a smarty pants. Doug also was a smarter than average kid and was also picked on by the other boys. He was as large as them, but wouldn’t fight back. We just kind of gravitated to each other.
When other kids went to the playground for recess, we carried our books to read. We usually went to the corner of the schoolyard closest to the door and we and kept a watch for anyone sneaking up to kick our asses. The teachers tried to look out for us, but that only caused a higher level of animosity from our classmates.
We were if you could call it that, friends from third grade through seventh grade. Before eighth grade Doug’s father was offered a larger congregation in another town and they moved away. I lost track of him. It would be eight years before I saw Doug again.
By 1964, I was a Third Class Petty Officer serving in the ammunition ship Vesuvius. We had just returned from the Western Pacific and were anchored in San Francisco Bay. I had just gotten off a bus on Market Street heading for a nearby Gin Mill to meet a fellow cook for some recreational boozing and harassing the Bar Hogs.
I heard someone yell, “Garland.”. No one called me Garland now. Among my shipmates, I was known as Dave. I turned looking to see who was calling my name. I saw him there. At first, I didn’t recognize him. He was pretty heavy, no make that downright fat, and sporting a long shaggy beard. He said, “Hey Man, It’s me, Doug.”
It took me a minute. I tell you, I was flabbergasted. The last time I had seen him was at a little country school in North Carolina and here he was in San Francisco. He told me he was meeting his girlfriend in about an hour. I reluctantly joined him at a little coffee shop to talk. From the smell coming off him, he hadn’t outgrown the moniker “Pissy Pants” nor did he waste a lot of time in the shower. He didn’t talk like the Doug I once knew. I couldn’t hear the North Carolina in his voice. He talked fast with the quick rising tones you associate with door to door salesmen, con men, and panhandlers.
Of course, my uniform told him my story. During the next forty-five minutes, I learned that his dad had run off with a widow woman from the congregation whom he was consoling. This left Doug and his mother destitute. His mother had a mental breakdown and had been institutionalized. He lived with an uncle for a time but had finally left North Carolina on a Greyhound Bus for California to explore the evolving hippie culture.
He now lived with his girlfriend in a commune. Although she wasn’t exclusively his girlfriend. He said there were a number of girls in the commune and you could just fuck whoever was available. He said many of the members were artists and musicians but mostly lived by shoplifting and panhandling.
He said, “Here she comes now,’ as he stood to wave at someone I couldn’t see.
I turned and looked up as this huge lump of suet approached. I tell, you, this woman could have wrestled in the same weight class as Andre the Giant. From the smell that came off her, she also had a bladder problem that caused her to piss herself frequently. Apparently she also shared a lack of motivation with Doug to bathe or there was a lack of shower facilities at the commune. He introduced us and said they were on the way to North Beach, where the commune flopped in a couple of apartments. They invited me to come along. He offered good drugs and free pussy. I begged off. I told them I had to meet a guy who owed me money and I couldn’t afford to miss him.
I had no desire to involve myself with them or their lifestyle. He hit me up for a five dollar “loan” and the two heavyweights waddled out of my life forever. Worth the five bucks to see the last of Doug.
And that is the last time I saw Doug and if I never see him again it will be too soon. Truthfully, I never really liked Doug and he is a reminder of all the unpleasant hours and ass kicking’s I endured in elementary school.