The Unforgettable Now: Jerrold Thomas’s Story
To hear more stories like Jerrold’s, be sure to check out the Hillcroft’s Facing Disabilities Project Event on October 4th at Civic Theatre.
You can call me sexy.
That’s what I told Miranda the first time she met me. Then she gave me water and asked if it was cold enough. I told her it tasted like gin.
I like to say funny stuff to staff members like Miranda and my co-workers. I try to keep a straight face, but my grin always gives me away.
When I talk on the phone with my girlfriend, Debbie, she tells me I’m beautiful.
I guess I’m doing something right. My cousin Charles says I’m a hound dog.
What kind of guy am I? I’m a good-looking guy, like my dad. Sometimes when I look in a mirror I see him. Dad was a heck of a baseball player. He pitched. They called him Lefty. He was a big guy. He needed to be. He was an international union organizer and worked with Walter Reuther, a former president of the UAW who survived several assassination attempts.
Dad fought for what he believed. He was a tough guy, except with me. I was his soft spot. He taught me to drive a tractor. I drove the tractor all the time working the land, mowing the grass.
School was okay, but I would rather have been driving through the fields. I like to move. I like to go places. I don’t like to sit still. There’s too much to see, too many people to meet.
My parents took me everywhere.
We drove to California on Route 66 with Charles’s family. Staring out the window, I could name the make, model, and year of every car we passed. It’s kind of like a superpower, I guess. I still can do it some.
I was never allowed to drive on the road, but I’ve always loved cars. I’ve got a picture of a Mustang on my wall in my room.
Charles tells me that I picked on him all the way to California and back. I remember standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon. I remember the wind and thinking I was going to fall in. I scared the dickens out of my family.
There are a lot of moments I don’t remember. I wish that I could remember more about my mom. She was nice, really smart, never swore. She was a good teacher. She never drank.
Dad on the other hand . . . when I turned 21, he got me drunk. I definitely don’t remember much about that night. Dad would always take me to the bar with him. He was a Delaware county commissioner and he had a lot of meetings there.
Mom and Dad took me to Hawaii. I saw some Hula dancers. Even today, I can’t say “hula dancers” without wiggling my eyebrows.
People loved my parents. I loved my parents.
My parents have been gone a long time. When they were here, they visited a lot. They were proud of me. I go visit them at the cemetery. I still miss them, especially during the holidays. Someday I’ll be next to Mom and Dad.
Last Friday my roommates and I met Debbie at KFC. It was a hot date, yup!
I tried to play it cool. I ordered my three-piece chicken meal. Got my drink, and then spilled it all over the table. Miranda said it was okay. We switched tables.
Debbie works at Hillcroft, too. I love to work, especially with her. I’m not going to say how old she is.
Okay, you really want to know . . . she is 30. Yup, there’s an age difference between us, but who gives a heck.
We first started dating in Florida or was it the Bahamas?
Debbie says that we’ve only been dating a few weeks. What does time matter? We’re not sure where we went in Florida. We think it was a beach. I know I felt happy.
Some days at work we recycle CDs. Today we stuffed marketing envelopes for a local photographer. The outside of the envelopes read: “Unforgettable Moments Preserved Forever.”
At KFC Debbie sat at the table next to me and introduced herself as my girlfriend to a new friend who joined us for dinner . . . it’s not easy to eat fried chicken while smiling.
I had trouble thinking of what to talk to her about, so I said, “Debbie, are you eating a cookie?” I batted my eyes at her and she laughed.
Someone asked her what we talked about on the phone every night. This was too much. I’m kind of shy.
“More Pepsi, Debbie?” I asked.
I went to get her a refill. My sixty-seven-year old knees have arthritis, but my thirty-year-old girlfriend needed a refill, and I needed an excuse to escape that embarrassing conversation.
When I got back I posed for a picture with Debbie. That means I got to scooch over right beside her.
When it was time to go home, I said, “Bye, Debbie. See you Monday, honey. Don’t forget to call me tonight.”
And then I went home. I have fun at the house with my roommates and the staff. I love it . . . every minute of it.
I’ve hit home runs just like my dad. I like the Colts and the Reds, cars and cruising music. I love my cat Lovie. I’ve shaken the hand of the mayor and sold paintings of horses. I drink one O’Doul’s a day. It’s the best beer because you can take your medicine with it.
I think I’m living a good life. I’m having fun so far. The secret to living a good life and having fun is getting out and doing things.
I’ve had a lot of unforgettable moments. I know that. I know I felt happy in the Bahamas. I know that I enjoyed working at Bob Evans, Wendy’s, and the Radisson, but sacking groceries for people at Ross’s made me the happiest.
I don’t remember many of the details, but remember how I felt: I’ve always felt loved.
My favorite unforgettable moment is now, and I feel great.
As told to Kelsey Timmerman, co-founder of The Facing Project and the author of Where Am I Eating? and Where Am I Wearing?