Sunday, May 16, 2010

My neighbor, the funeral home.

Living across the street from a funeral home has its benefits. Neighbors tend to stay quiet in reverence, stray cats steer clear of our block. Maybe cats lose one of their lives if they come too close. But the best is definitely the parking lot. I love the parking lot.

The property adjacent to the funeral home and back a few dozen meters from the street holds the grocery store where I shop. I walk there regularly and the path thereto leads right across the funeral home parking lot. Many times it's barren. But sometimes there's a service inside and the small lot's full of cars. Occasionally I cross the lot when the service inside is finished and there are people outside in the parking lot.

I've seen gatherings for dozens of services. There doesn't seem to be a specific socioeconomic category to which this funeral home caters. All types of people, all types of cars. Some services with Cadillacs, BMWs, etc. Others with rust-buckets littering the parking lot. But all groups share some things. The front doors have a two-fold bottleneck effect- After a service, once people hit the open air, they 1)reform into groups from their single file configuration, and 2)breathe again, like they've been bottled up a long time and now they can move.
In addition to the way in which people exit the building, there's another thing most groups have in common. It's the way they converse in the parking lot. Now obviously I don't walk directly through conversations, but as I traverse the perimeter of the parking lot on my way to the grocery store following a service, I pick up general bits. This is why I like the parking lot. People circle up around car hoods and truck beds. Cigarettes are lit. Laughter, stories, hugs, etc. It doesn't seem to matter what types of cars are in the parking lot. After a service, there's always stories and laughter.

This afternoon my grocery walk coincided with the end of a service. Two mid-20s looking, cigarette-bearing guys stood with an old man. From a distance, they had the look of two estranged brothers standing uncomfortably with their grandfather. Anxious little movements from all of them. The two stood a slight distance from the old man, like they knew he disapproved of their smokes, but they were going to smoke anyway. The old man buried his hands deep in his suit coat pockets.
I walked in to the grocery store and reemerged a few minutes later. The three were still talking. The two still smoking. Hands still buried in coat pockets. As I crossed the street back toward my house, I stole a glance in their direction. They were mid-embrace. All three in one big tangle. I got to the sidewalk on the other side of the street and turned away from them toward my house. From behind me, I wasn't surprised to hear their laughter.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The sweat dripping down his temple was the only hint that he was alive. Like a gargoyle, the stranger stood motionless in front of me in line. We both had a hankering for Subway, but that's where the similarities end. He was probably 6'7". The cocoon of grease that encased his person made it difficult to tell where clothes ended and skin began. His old leather vest was riddled with "Hell's Angels" type badges. The bandana around his skull hid thin hair pulled back into a pony tail. He wore a black t-shirt. Except his right arm was sleeved. And his right hand bore a glove. Not a motorcycle glove, more like a dentist's glove, tight fitting.
As I took a few steps to the side to glance at the menu, I noticed the boy and his mother in front of Sasquatch man. He couldn't have been more than 8 years old and he couldn't have had anything other than autism. He was silently observing the giant stranger's gloved hand and arm. His mother impatiently recited the orders for sandwiches while being sure to keep ahold of her young son's hand. It was just she and the boy in the store but she was ordering for a battalion.
"On that one I want lettuce, pickles, no tomatoes... no, no... I said no tomatoes... um I guess that's it. On that one I want lettuce, tomatoes... yes I did want it toasted... you know what, don't worry about it, you've already put the toppings on. Forget it." She was right in the middle of her order, no end in sight when the boy's curiosity became too great to contain.

The restaurant was pretty crowded, and the line was certainly packed. You know how Subway lines are. You stand three inches from strangers for like 15 minutes without ever saying a word to them. The weird Subway code of silence. This line was especially silent. I think because we were all a little scared of the monster in front of me. But not the boy.

"What happened?" said the boy innocently, pointing to the giant's gloved hand.

The man craned his massive, bearded head down to meet the boy's gaze.

"I burned it. A long time ago." His voice was scarier that you would have imagined. Think Don LaFontaine with an angry frog in his throat. We, the rest of the line-standers, were surprised both by the sound of his speech and the content of his claim. Everyone got quieter.

The boy's mom sort of froze. She looked back at the huge man who was staring at her son. I swear I saw panic in her eye for a second. The boy slowly let go of his mom's hand and took a step toward the glove. His mom didn't (couldn't?) stop him. Without a word the boy positioned himself on the right side of the giant, facing his mom and the now observing sandwich makers. Then the boy reached up and took the scary man's scary hand in his own. The restaurant was motionless, disarmed. A barely audible gasp from behind me made me turn around. The elderly woman behind me was tearing up.

Spirit That Moves In All Things, I'm grateful that you move in small-town Texas, in Subway lines, in autistic kids.

Warrior Dash

Check out Crystal's blog for pics of what I did last weekend. And add her to your Google Reader. Cheers.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Miss Moneypenny and predictably Bond

The only places I go are the gym and to bed. I'm more habitual than a nun dress. (eh, pretty weak) I'm also cheap-o. Like a nun dress. (stronger) So when I learned there was another gym in town whose monthly costs were 1/3 of my current one's, it was aloha Just Fitness 24, and aloha Gym X.

Of course there's a blonde hot desk worker.
When I walk in for the first time to scope the place, she greets me.

Blonde Hot Desk Worker: "Hi can I give you a tour?"

Me: [witty response]

BHDW: [sheepish grin]

I couldn't have scripted it any better.

But obviously there will be no more chapters in this tale. Examine the evidence: she works at a gym; she works at a gym called "Gym X". To state the stereotype, both thermospherically high indicators of centuries-old craziness. But I'd be lying if I said I hated walking past her desk every trip to the gym. There exists, then, a constant tension. A perpetually fulcruming teeter-totter.

So she's Miss Moneypenny. And in this analogy I'm predictably Bond.

By the way I'd recommend all you Blahglievers get a real life Moneypenny. A little flavor for your vanilla days. Unless you like vanilla, which I do. Then she's vanilla on your chocolate days. Wait, this is turning racial. Flavor on your flavorless days.

Reeves out.
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