too much typing—since 2003


Maybe his wife is named Carlene?

A few blocks from where we live, in a house I usually pass on my way home from work, there's a man that I've come to refer to as "Car-Leaning Guy." He is, presumably, a retiree; the name comes from the fact that in spring and summer, nearly every day at around two or three in the afternoon as I drove back from classes, he'd be in his garage with the door open, surveying the world while leaning against the hood of his car. He's rather distinctive-looking: he's got a big, reddish face that reminds me of what Mr. Potatohead would look like if it were called Mr. T-Bone Steak, with large, plastic-frame glasses in that sort of brownish-putty shade that only eyeglass frames come in. He's got a fine example of the Milwaukee Gut, our local and common storage facility for processed bratwurst, cheese, and beer.

He's got a corner house on a four-way stop intersection, so he's got a good vantage point not only for pedestrians but also for cars. It could be, too - because we live near enough the airport that some planes' flight paths bring them in fairly low to the ground near us - that he's an airplane fancier, and he enjoys watching the planes in their slow-motion descent. I don't know: I'm not the type to strike up conversations with strangers...particularly not since I usually see him from my car, and his driveway is set back far enough that I'd have to shout to make myself heard. True, if I were really curious and socially exuberant, I could walk the few blocks my house and say, hey, so what is it about leaning on your car that that's what you do seemingly every day of the week?

But not in winter. It occurs to me that I've become acclimated enough to this neighborhood, which we moved to six years ago, to recognize some of its characters and quirks - such as the likelihood that Car-Leaning Guy's reappearance will be a harbinger of spring, less prosaic than robins but more reliable than Punxsutawney Phil. I don't know; perhaps I should send him a card..."Here's Hoping You'll Have Years of Car-Leaning Joy"? I'm not sure there's any small division of Hallmark Cards dedicated to that sort of message yet.

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