He’d turned 35. I noticed the grey in his chin and temples was making a faint appearance as the hairline made a gentle recede.
We were sitting at Bob Evan’s, celebrating his birthday. He was having pot roast. I had the meatloaf.
I asked him, “Have you been looking for a job?”
It had been a long time since he’d had a job.
“Not really,” he said.
“You like always being broke? At your age?”
“Of course not,” he said. “But I got my mother, at least, to give me my room.”
He was still living with his mother in the same room he had as a child.
“Other people don’t have the luxury of a mother to give them a room,” he said. “So they need a job worse than I do. Otherwise, they’ll end up on the street.”
“So you’re leaving your potential job for them? Out of philanthropy?”
“Yes,” he said.
“You ever think of moving out to a place of your own?” I asked. “Somewhere away from your mother?”
“Of course,” he said. “Of course it makes me feel like a loser at my age, still living with my mother. I understand completely what you’re getting at.”
“Then why not move out?”
“Mom,” he said. “Mom worries about me. She’s afraid I can’t take care of myself. She says she frets and frets that I will never be self-sufficient.”
There was ample reason to believe that.
“So you stay at home for her?”
“It gives her comfort,” he said. “She can keep tabs on me this way. This way she can sleep sound at night, knowing I’m across the hall, safe and not on the brink of ruin. She knows I’ll be okay across the hall instead of depressed and suicidal and all alone in some apartment somewhere.”
“Your sacrifices in living for the sakes of others are astounding,” I said. “You are like a jobless Jesus.”
“Yes,” he said. “I think the same thing every day too. It’s about the only thing that gets me through the long, pointless days.”
“Long days and nights without a job. Long days and nights and weeks and months and years with nothing to do.”
“Exactly,” he said.
I told him it must be tough.
He said it was.
I asked him how he liked the pot roast.
He said it was very good.