Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I'd like to introduce you to Ray, an elderly neighbor of mine. Over time, I hope to introduce you to several extraordinary people I come into contact with.

The short bios will contain fact, but also extrapolations from my imagination. See, I met Ray for only ten minutes in a waiting room, but he totally changed my day last week Wednesday.

I'd guess Ray is about eighty years old, twice married and twice widowed. The latter is a pretty big guess, you might think, but I have such a strange gumption about it. The ladies at work say he's an amateur poet. He definitely has a sprightly romanticism about him, definitely not something you expect from someone his age. Or from a portly man with yellowing overgrown finger nails and a small closet of dirtied shop clothes. He was probably the kind of husband that needed constant reminders from his wife to button his shirt collar or comb his hair. And I'm guessing those women never minded it a bit; might have been the root of the attraction.

The first thing Ray said to me was, "Did you watch that animal show on TV this morning? There was a porcupine riding a skateboard." He was seated about ten feet from me but with a clear line of fire. I had been reading something or another, so so deep in thought, which at that point skidded to a halt. My cartoon bubble at that moment could have read: "Uhhmm. Is he making a joke? Wait. Crap. What was I working on?"

But Ray kept going, "And there was a squirrel that they had on those little skis on the water, he was really good. One time they had a goat climb a ladder. You ever watch that show? It's on in the mornings."

I am a very gullible person, always have been. I like to think anything is possible. But I've been made fun of enough at this point in my life, that I now typically look around for public response (when in company) before issuing any comment. There were two men within earshot, but neither would look above their own two feet. So I had to assume there was a television show.

"I worked all morning today, and most mornings, so I'm afraid I don't know the show you are talking about. Do you know the name of it? I don't have cable." I replied slowly and unevenly.

"They had a porcupine riding a skateboard this morning," he kept going. His eyes never left mine, not sure he even blinked.

Ugh. I just about lost my shit. I don't think knowing that I had just won $10,000 would have elicited more reaction. I hit 10 in one second, like a strongman at a carnival. I thought this old guy was fucking with me, it was so bizarre, but he was dead serious; he just wanted to talk about animals doing silly tricks. I was still looking about the room at the other guys in the waiting area, while I half-gasped half-giggled out loud in exasperation. Neither would meet my request for affirmation. Without, I had to wonder: did something stop, did I stop?

There were other animals and different tricks, but I can't remember them now. My mind was stuck on how or why anyone would train a porcupine.

So, maybe you are not sold still on the charm of Ray. But try reading this post again keeping his delivery in mind. Not a 'How are you?' was uttered, we just jumped straight into his morning funnies on the TV. He was just so wonderfully curious to find out if I had shared in his moment. Or he just wanted to make me laugh. If his motive was the latter, he might have had three wives!

What a man.

The ladies at work said he has come into the office bearing gifts of baked goods in the past. Or maybe he'll return with a poem for me, apparently that's happened, too.

Hope you are having a wonderful night, Ray. And tomorrow I hope you get to watch two dogs in costume dance a waltz together. That would be lovely.

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