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Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The building's maintenance men have been here every day, all day, for weeks now, painting, hammering, sawing, and killing time. It wouldn't be so bad, but their main man is a friendly talker. If I so much as crack an inch in the front door, he can hear the scratch and will immediately wrap me in a monological headlock I haven't learned how to break out of. The other two don't help much because they enjoy my panic. I look at their eyes and I can see the implied message: Brah, just walk on out. You don't have to listen to his shit.
But I just can't break the chain of manners forged over a lifetime.
(I sometimes recollect myself in a previous life as a young man atop one of the great temple-pyramids of Mexico.
"You want me to lie down here on this stone table while your friends hold my arms and legs and you take that stone knife and rip my beating heart from out my chest? Of course. Oh, pardon me, I didn't mean to step on your toe. Ah, here we are. Like this? Oh! That smarts.")
And yet I manage to get out eventually.
Then I have to contend with the guy who plays guitar on the sidewalk in front of the building next door. He's a friendly fellow, but I don't always understand what he means when he talks about a new way he's found to keep his guitar in tune without always having to turn the knobs.
Once I manage to move past him, there's the lady across the street who sells junk jewelry and expresses concern that I haven't seemed so carefree lately, and did I know she just moved down to the Quarter into the Cahn building on the corner? And I wonder, Can she see me from her balcony when I'm in the patio reading?
The Korean ladies at the foot-massage parlor are always cheerful, too, greeting me with smiles and birdlike chatter in the ultimate hope that I will surrender my left sole to them.
Yesterday, I had my regular check-up with my doctor. He swept into the examining room and rattled off the test results from my last visit and congratulated me for passing every battery with flying colors. When he stopped and turned to me and said, "And how are things with you," I stared to cry.