PJ Britton Chronicles


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     It was late July, mid-nineties, and a classic PJ summer: party all Friday night, crash on the disgusting red couch, wake up Saturday and eat breakfast before heading to the beach. On this particular Saturday morning, on the way to breakfast, PJ saw a man dropping a turn-table onto a pile of junk next to some trash bins and pulled his silver Volvo onto the curb. We got out to get a closer look. PJ asked the man, “Are you throwing that away?”
    “Well, yeah,” said the man. “I’ve been meaning to fix it but I just don’t have the time.”
    “Oh?” PJ said, “What’s the matter with it?”
    “Its missing a needle, but other than that it’s in great shape. I hate to get rid of it. Do you want it?”
    “Well my brother is a DJ,” PJ said. “”I was thinking maybe he could use it.”
    “Oh yeah, well it’s a great unit. I really hate to get rid of it, I mean, if you could give me something for it I would let you have it.”
    There was a pause, then PJ said, “Well, if you’re throwing it away I’ll take it, but, you know, I was just maybe going to take it if you were throwing it away. Maybe my brother can do something with it, I don’t know.”
    “I really hate to get rid of it,” the man said. He looked lost, and then, somehow defeated. “I guess you can have it. It’s been sitting in my garage for years now… well, just take it.”
    “Thanks,” PJ said, grabbing the unit and putting it in the back seat. We drove off, and drove, and were driving over the green bridge when PJ said, “I’ve never been given such a hard time about taking something outta the trash before.”
    I laughed, “He had a real hard time getting rid of that turn-table.”
    “Well come on, ” P said. “”You’re throwing it out and then you want to haggle with me while it’s in the trash?”
    “But it’s a really great unit,” I said.
    “And I hate to get rid of it,” P said.
    “That’s why I’m throwing it away.”
    “But maybe you could give me something for it.”
    “Yeah,” PJ said, his head turned and his blue eyes beamed, “it’s a really good turn-table.”

    By the time we reached the Diner we were in tears. It wasn’t the funniest thing, but the timing was perfect; hung-over, pre-breakfast, and suddenly exposed to some guy’s lengthy personal relationship with a stereo component. We saw the years of frustration in his eyes; the lack of time; the cost/return analysis… and the inevitable conclusion that it was not worth it anymore ——so toss it. But then, the last-minute hope that some value might be re-claimed from this man who wanted to pull it out of the trash… a man who saw it’s potential, who might want to make the effort that he himself had failed to make for years——and even pay him for it… but then the inevitable let down of realizing that, no, even in the trash it was only worth its weight in freedom.

    Classic hilarity, but when we walked into the diner, reality set in. Sober reality. We were in ludicrous mode; sacked-out silly-stupid mode, but the patrons were stone-cold sober; eating eggs, drinking coffee, wondering just what crazy fucks walked into their world. We sobered up immediately.

    PJ ordered his usual; eggs over easy, bacon, toast, coffee and milk. I ordered the same but with orange juice instead. When the meal came he said, “Bretsky, try this milk.”
    “I don’t like milk.”
    “Just a try it,” he held out the chalice.
    “I don’t like milk. I never drink milk.”
    And so PJ took it as a challenge, naturally, and insisted that I have a sip of his milk. “Fine,” I said, taking a sip, and it was delicious. I guess it was the depraved, alcohol-laden stomach lining that appreciated the nectar; the smooth, sweet richness coating my insides. So I ordered one myself. P was right. Mother fucker, he was usually right.

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