Thursday, 9 June 2011

hollywood days and sherman part 2

and now...the rest of the story...

when jill, dominic and i arrived at the hospital to visit sherman, a nurse directed us to where his room was. we walked past the open door and i caught a brief glimpse of him lying on the bed in a hospital gown that was hiked up, completely showing off his bare essentials. there was no way in hell i was going in there when that was on display. it was definitely not a vision i wanted burned into my retinas for the rest of eternity. jill and i kept urging dominic to go in there first and tell sherman to pull his gown down.  he had a stronger stomach than the two of us, but he let us know there was no way in hell HE was going to do it either.

as we stood outside the room going back and forth with each other arguing over who would go in there first, a nurse walked past and saw us standing out there. she kind of reminded me of shirley hemphill from "what's happenin". she asked what was going on and i pointed around the corner into the room motioning at sherman and his display. she walked in there all huffy like this was not the first time she'd dealt with this and as she pulled his gown to cover him she said, "SHERMAN, how many TIMES do i have to TELL you, keep your gown DOWN! you got company". she turned and said, "he's always got his gown all up like that. hmph" and walked off.

we made our way in and put the basket down. we started to make small talk, but to be honest, i don't think he knew who we were. i can't even remember what small talk we made with him. i just remember that all of a sudden, the conversation got a bit freakishly x-rated. out of the blue, he started making all sorts of suggestions about what jill and i could do with each other and asking really nasty, graphic questions and he was starting to chase us around the room when we decided to cut our visit short. it kind of freaked me out.

sherman was in the hospital for a week or so. when he came back, i didn't speak to him for a bit. i avoided him. i was still feeling weird about the hospital visit. one afternoon, i came home from work and sitting by our front door was this ratty, dirty stuffed mouse teddy bear thing with a note pinned on it. i think it was addressed to "linda" or "josephine". it was pretty obvious who it was from. but the  question was who was it for?

the note had part of the "wicky wicky" song typed on it and professed an undying love for linda or josephine or whoever it was. a few days later, i came home to find another crusty old teddy bear with another note. this happened a few times. then one day, the phone rang. i could tell it was sherman. he asked, "can i speak to linda?"

"there's no linda here."

he said, "oh... um... you know... the girl with the long dark hair"

"you mean jakki?" i asked

"YES! yes, that's it... jakki."

"'s me sherman...this is jakki"

"oh linda...(getting it wrong again) all i can think about is you". ( which just grossed me out ...because... you know... i was familiar with the way he "thought " about people. ) "when i was in the hospital, you were like this shining light that came to save me. all i could think about was you. the hope of seeing you again is what saved my life."

jesus christ. this was so not what i needed.

he continued, "i was wondering, (his voice became more demure and flirty) if you would be so kind as to accompany me for lunch...... at my mothers. "

oh my god.

"um, sherman...i don't think so. i'" ( i lied)

"where's your husband?"

"he lives in another state. it's very complicated, works and we're madly in love, so...thanks but no thanks."

he didn't take no for an answer very easily, so the gifts still flowed. flea-ridden, piss-stained tokens of his love kept appearing on the doorstep.  what freaked me out more though, was i swear, every time i saw mrs. lieberman, i could actually see a ray of hope in her watery blue eyes. like this was the beginning of something beautiful. as if a relationship between her son and i could be a possibility.

in  the end, he found some other chick to crush on, the girlfriend of one of his homeless friends. and there is a story there, that almost put me off the idea of ever "knowing' anyone in the biblical sense for the rest of my lifetime. it's too horrific to recount here. it took me years to erase it from my brain.

a few years ago, when i was back in LA, jill and i drove by the old place. a lot had changed. it was pretty obvious to me that sherman was no longer living there. we sat outside reminiscing, laughing about our crazy days there. we remembered this video that dominic had found in sherman's place of sherman from years before we ever knew him. it looked like late 70s/early 80's. he was in a polyester shirt, open... with medallion, high-waisted polyester trousers, sporting a seriously blow-dried do and standing in front of a pretty nice house. he was talking to the camera, saying that what he was filming, was his "epitaph".

he gave the viewer a guide inside of his house. even at that point in his life, he was creative with the decor. he had chairs nailed to the walls and ceiling. scraps of various carpets made up whole floor coverings in every room. it was interesting to see this kind of mad, yet,  maybe just eccentric side of him. i still get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach sometimes when i think about the fact we never made a copy of it.

while jill and i were still in the car talking, one of the new residents of the four-plex came out and i asked if she had ever known sherman. she had similar stories of near death by paint fumes and mrs. lieberman sending maverick or whatever other unqualified person was hanging around with sherman to fix serious problems like gas leaks etc...  she said that mrs. lieberman had been ill and sent/went back to her home state to live with family a few years previously.  i asked about sherman and she said he had to leave after his mom moved. her husband had seen him a year or two earlier, living on the streets, not far away from 1432. without his mom there to look after him, he lost what little he had. i felt sad about that for a long time... still do.

(i spent the past 3 days digging through the thousands of letters, photos, scraps of papers i have kept my entire life because i know i have a letter or two from him and i can't find them. so disappointing!)

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