Thanks fer seein’ me, Judge. I know I don’t got any right askin’ fer this. I’ve made a lotta mistakes in my life ‘n I don’t deserve any sympathy from you. But I hope you’ll at least hear me out ‘n let me tell you my story ‘n how I wound up here…
My mom died when I was pretty young… eleven. ‘n after that, the old man ‘n me both had a rough time a’ things. He drowned his sorrows ‘n was drunk most every night. ‘n I’ll admit I was never a great student, ‘n after that, I was even worse…. Then when I got into high school, I followed in my dad’s footsteps ‘n started drinkin’ a lot. Me ‘n Dad never talked much, ‘n usually argued when we did. Well, that came to a head my last year a’ school, when we found out I wasn’t gonna graduate on time. I got home after drinkin’ with some buddies, ‘n he was waitin’ fer me, pissed off ‘n piss drunk. We wound up takin’ swings at each other, ‘n since I was 18, he told me to get the hell outta his house ‘n stay out.
Well, then I officially gave up on school ‘n started lookin’ fer a job. ‘Ventually, I got on as a laborer, doin’ odds ‘n ends fer a contractor. Turns out, I did a pretty good job, even when I was hung over, or even still drunk, ‘n learned a fair bit too. ‘Casionally, I’d show up late cuz I’d been out drinkin’ late ‘n get chewed out, but since I did such a good job, I got away with a lot more than I should’ve. Lookin’ back, that job was a blessin’ that I didn’t appreciate at the time. I ended up doin’ it fer ‘bout 5 years.
‘Though one problem was that it gave me a fair amount a’ cash to keep drinkin’. ‘n I kept doin’ more ‘n more of it. One night, I really raised hell ‘n completely missed work the next day. Well, that was it with the boss. He had enough ‘n fired me. The next couple days, I went on a bender which ended up with me passed out in some random family’s backyard. ‘n that’s one part I’m sure you already know all ‘bout, Judge, my gettin’ arrested fer trespassin’.
Well, luckily, that judge had mercy on me. He gave me probation so long as I got another job ‘n I got sober. I called ‘round to everyone I ever worked with, ‘n finally found someone that was desperate ‘n was willin’ to overlook my brush with the law. I had to start going to AA meetings ‘n all that. My first meeting was when I got my sponsor, Eddie. (By the way, I talked with Eddie ‘n he’s cool with me tellin’ you all this. I gotta respect the anonymity ‘n all that, y’know?)
Anyway, Eddie was great. He kept me honest but wasn’t a stick about it or anything like that. ‘n we’d usually meet fer coffee ‘bout once a week or so just to chat. ‘n it turns out that’s how I first met Michelle. I was at the coffee shop with Eddie one day ‘n she happened to come in, get a coffee ‘n then come over to say hi to ‘im. I remember thinkin’ how pretty she was, but didn’t think too much on it, since I was dating another girl at the time. Well, Eddie introduced me as a friend (respectin’ the anonymous part of AA) ‘n then told me how she was a friend a’ his sister’s. I never coulda thought how that day was gonna lead me here now.
Well, Judge, overall, things were goin’ pretty good. I had a decent job, was datin’ a girl, ‘n I was sober fer the first time in a long time. I even kinda had a pet. There was this stray cat that’d come by my balcony from time to time. I started callin’ him Simba. I’d put some food out fer him ‘n he’d let me pet ‘im fer a bit before takin’ off to the streets again.
Well, life went on like that fer ‘bout 8 or 9 months. Then, one week, it all fell apart. It started when the girl I was datin’ said she wanted to talk. Basically, she met some other guy ‘n was done with me. I wasn’t super serious about her, but still, she rejected me ‘n it hurt a bit. But I stayed strong. Then a couple days after that, my boss told me that things were slowin’ down for ‘im ‘n that after we finished the project we were workin’ on, only another week or so, that was gonna be it for ‘im. So I basically just lost my job too.
Obviously, this was kinda rough. Some a’ the other guys were gonna go out fer drinks ‘bout it, but I figured that’d be a bad idea fer me. I was sitting at home alone ‘n I started to get depressed ‘n tried calling Eddie. But he wasn’t around. I sat fer a bit on the balcony with Simba but that didn’t help, so I gave up ‘n went to the bar where the other guys were. It was my first drink in almost a year. I was handlin’ it pretty well ‘n only had a couple a’ beers, but deep down, I knew I wanted more. The guys called it an early night, ‘n I left too. But on the way home, I picked up a bottle a’ whiskey.
I had my first pull right when I walked in the door. ‘n almost right then, I heard all hell breakin’ loose out on the balcony. I went to see what was goin’ on ‘n Simba was out there fightin’ with a few other toms. To this day, I have no idea what it was all about, but they completely tore into ‘im ‘n before it was all said ‘n done ‘n I chased ‘em all off, he was laying there in a bloody pile, cryin’ in pain.
I found an old box ‘n put ‘im in there ‘n started lookin’ online fer somewhere to take ‘im, ‘n found some 24-hour vet clinic not too far away. Well, I got there ‘n explained everything ‘n the lady at the desk took Simba into the back. A bit later, Michelle walked out the door. I didn’t recognize her at first but she recognized me ‘n said “Oh… you’re Eddie’s friend, right?” It took me a second, since I never knew she was a vet, ‘n it had been a rough week ‘n I had a few drinks in me fer the first time in a year like I said, but then it clicked who she was. Anyways, she came out ‘n sat down next to me ‘n told me how old Simba really was ‘n how bad he was injured. She said they did what they could to ease his pain, but it was almost his time, ‘n if I wanted to come in ‘n say goodbye. Well, I said “Sure”, kinda in a daze, ‘n followed Michelle.
When it was all said ‘n done, I don’t know what came over me, but I just couldn’t hold it together anymore. I didn’t realize that how much that damn stray cat meant to me, ‘n I started bawling like a damn baby. I was crying about the cat ‘n then about everything. I was sitting there ‘n didn’t even notice that Michelle’d sat down by me ‘n put her arm around my shoulder ‘til she asked me if I wanted a cup of coffee ‘n wanted to talk. ‘n I just spilled my guts out to her fer God knows how long.
I don’t know why she did that, Judge. Maybe she looked at me ‘n saw a broken thing just like all those animals. ‘n what’s even stranger is that it wasn’t just that night. Hell, no one woulda blamed her if she wrote me off as soon as I walked out the door, but not her. If she had, I wouldn’t be here today, Judge.
She gave me her number ‘n said to call her if I wanted to talk. ‘n then, after being a helluva great friend fer a couple a’ months, what was even crazier is that she said she’d go out on a real date with me. ‘n over all that time, she made me better ‘n better.
I want to be better because of Michelle, Judge. I got my GED ‘n started workin’ on my ‘pprenticeship. I think I’ll be a contractor myself soon. More important than that, she helped me reach out to my dad. After all that me ‘n him been through, it ain’t easy but we’re at least talkin’, ‘n maybe one day I’ll get ‘im to sober up as well.
It’s strange, Judge. All the worst things in my life led me to the best thing in my life. If all those crappy things never happened to me over the years, I never woulda met your daughter.
Like I said, Judge, I have no right to ask you this. I know I’m not the kinda guy any man would want fer his daughter. But I don’t think any man can ever love her more than me. ‘n she makes me a better man every day, ‘n I want to be better every day because she deserves the best. ‘n I want to do that fer the rest a’ my life.
So, Judge, it’d mean so much if you could look past all the bad things ‘bout me ‘n try ‘n see the good that Michelle seems to see, ‘n maybe, could I please have your blessing to ask her to marry me?