Not long after the haircut incident, Don’s crazy roommate moved out and his girlfriend Erin moved in. We all knew this was a terrible idea, but Don really needed help paying the rent. A few weeks after she moved in, Don landed a spot in the national tour of Tommy that sent him on the road for four months. Erin had not proven to be the most loyal girlfriend in the past, and Don had become accustomed to being the only straight man on a stage full of women. So we can see where this is going.
Which is exactly where it went. A mere two months into the tour, Don gave me a frantic call from the road.
“Duuuude,” he said. “I need a big favor.”
It was indeed a big favor. It was probably the biggest favor I’ve ever done for anyone. It’s the kind of favor you only do for family or people who are holding your children hostage.
What happened was this: Don fell in love with a woman in the show with him and broke up with Erin. It did not take Erin long to realize that living upstairs from Gary sucked. She told Don that she was moving out immediately. In that respect, she was probably the smartest of all of us.
“I know I’ve said this before, dude,” he said. “But this time it’s serious.” I assumed Don had succumbed to what is known in the theater world as “showmance.” He was great at falling in love with his costars. Staying in love, not so much. Which is true of all of us … as Dan Savage says, every relationship fails until the one that doesn’t. But it was just a little bit more true when it came to Don. This time he was right about it being serious … the woman in question is now his wife and the mother of his lovely daughter. At the time, however, it just seemed like a giant mess that probably could have been avoided with some patience and the skillful use of deception.
With no one in the apartment, and not enough money to pay rent on his own, Don’s only option was to move out. “How could he do that if he was on tour?” you ask. Good question! And the answer: he could not! That was the favor. For me to move him out of his apartment.
“I don’t know,” I said, “that sounds like a lot of work.”
“I know, man,” he said. “I’m really, really sorry. But I’ll buy you dinner.”
Well, I did like dinner. And Don was like a brother to me. And I still felt kinda guilty moving out and sticking him with crazy roommates. And I recognized that he really had no other options. So I agreed, with the caveat that he stick that check for dinner in the mail immediately.
A few days later, I showed up at his apartment with my girlfriend Bethann, our friend Molly, and a roll of garbage bags. It was a good thing we brought the garbage bags. Erin lived like a hobo. The apartment was littered with, um, litter. Take-out containers, beer bottles, crusty old plates with food items still on them, torn-up paper, magazines, grody old soiled clothes … you know, litter. And cockroaches. They didn’t even bother hiding anymore. It was their place now.
We spent the day cleaning the apartment as best we could and packing up all of Don’s stuff. He had been kind enough to hire movers, so we wouldn’t have to actually carry anything. I still had to show up the next day, ride to the storage unit with the movers, watch them move everything in, and then walk a mile to the subway. So it wasn’t exactly hassle-free. But at least I didn’t have to carry anything, which is by far the worst thing about moving.
As I locked the apartment up for the second-to-last time, I ran into Gary in the hallway.
“Hey, meh,” he said. “You moving out?”
“I already moved out,” I said. “I’ve been gone for over a year.”
He laughed. “Yeah, you moved out,” he gave me a look that seemed to suggest I hadn’t really moved out.
“Is Don going too?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said, “I’m moving his stuff.”
“Why doesn’t he move his stuff, meh?”
“Tell him I need a haircut, meh,” he said, then walked into his apartment.
And that’s the last I ever saw of Scary Gary.