I am reminded this morning of one of my father’s jokes.
“Guy goes to the doctor, right?”
“Says to the doctor, ‘Doc! I have a bowel movement every morning at 6:30.’ Doctor looks up from his chart and says, ‘Hey, that’s great! Regular is a good thing.’ Guy says, ‘Yeah, but Doc, but my alarm don’t go off until 6:45.’”
And there you have it: this is where my head is at.
The detail-rich pattern of my workday mornings have taken on yet another facet. Now, not only do I dress myself and manage to lock the front door when I leave for the day, but I have evidently made a new friend.
“MORNIN’!” he hollers at me.
You see, every morning, as I await the bus, things happen in a certain order. The Emanuel Baptist Church van goes by. Various random cars go by, then the car without hubcaps. Then the woman on the Harley goes by. During the school year the immigrant children and their mothers come out of the apartment building across the street.
And then the guy on his bike pedals by.
Helmeted and yet strangely square-skulled, smoking a cigarette, he’s been slowly pedaling past my stop – on the opposite side of the road – since January. Even in the winter, this man’s dedication to his early-morning ride – cigarette dangling from plump, careless lips – is noteworthy.
He’s hard to miss. Traveling the city sidewalk, he causes the children (during the school year) to scatter before him, their mothers clucking and pulling them out of his path.
And now, evidently, the two of us are friends.
Those who know me know that I am not a keenly social person, first thing. Slow, perhaps even accurately described as “sluggish”, early-morning-Pearl keeps to herself, venturing beyond nods of acknowledgement only when absolutely required.
It’s early, and I see you, is not a nod enough?
The first time, I smile and nod, an upward bounce of the chin. Hello there, human on the bike. Yes, I see you.
But this is not enough. “MORNIN’!” he shouts again.
OK, OK, already.
“’Mornin’” I call.
And that’s all it takes.
The next day I pretend to be fiddling with my iPod, but he is not to be denied. One hand steering, the other apparently waving in aircraft, he shouts “Mornin’” twice in quick succession into the neighborhood’s early-morning stillness.
I have no choice but to be friendly.
And now we have this between us now, this ritual. I am part of his pattern, as he is of mine.
I suppose we’ll be exchanging recipes next and walking each other’s pets.
Gnome, Sweet Gnome
3 hours ago