I remember so well when it all began.
It was late October, I was a sophomore in college, and I had an exam at 10:00 in the morning.
Earlier that morning I went to the cafeteria intent on eating a nourishing breakfast to carry me through what promised to be a quite busy day. My day included the test, afternoon football practice, my tutoring of Zack – an underprivileged child I’d be working with for several years - and a late date with Lola Montenegro, my fashion model girlfriend.
“Good morning, Ethel,” I said to the cafeteria lady to whom I talked and kidded around with every day.
“Hi, Perry,” she smiled ‘What would you like today?”
“A full breakfast, Ethel - Juice, scrambled eggs, home fries, rye toast, coffee, and – oh, of course, bacon too.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Perry,” said Ethel. “Today we only have pastries and cheese.”
WHAT?!I was displeased because I was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese!
This was the start of a downhill slide that had brought me finally to this cheap hotel room staring down the barrel of a gun and wondering if I should end this long descent into madness known as my life.
In the absence of proper nutrition I failed my organic chemistry exam that day, even though I had studied diligently. Realizing I hadn’t done well I missed the rest of my day and got drunk in a nearby bar which was raided for underage drinking. When I got out of jail I was hopelessly behind in my work and flunked out of the pre-med program, losing my 100% football scholarship.
My new-found drinking habit continued unabated and Lola Montenegro left me for a guy named Clarence Lumpkin with whom she spent long hours in the school library studying Macro-economics together.
I was forced to transfer from pre-med to Remedial Poetry, but upon graduation there were no jobs available as a Remedial Poet and I spent the next 11 years in my parents’ basement, which proved awkward when they moved out after 7 years.
For the next few years I drifted, town to town, job to job, hope to shattered hope. I worked for fast food joints and factories, drifted into crime, and finally sunk so low I became manager of the rock group ABBA. I rode the rails for the next 8 years always with my trusty harmonica which unfortunately I couldn’t play very well and typically got force fed to me by my boxcar mates.
Finally I landed here in this cheap hotel, pistol in hand.
“Perry… no …” came a voice from the hallway.
It was Father Gilhooley.
“I found you at last!” he said entering the room. “Put down the gun.”
“But why, Father?”
“Because life is worth living!”
“How, Father? How is it worth living?”
“I’m going to take you out for a full breakfast, not just pastries and cheese!”
Slowly I withdrew the gun from my temple.
“Bacon too, Father?”
As we strode out into the broad sunlight and towards the Applebee’s down the street, I began to feel my spirits lift.
Yes, I had been displeased because all those years ago I was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese.
But now – at long last - everything was about to be all right.