Neighborhood fixtures people don’t like talking aboutOctober 1, 2010
“How long has that retarded guy been riding his bicycle around town?” says Tina the Lesbian as we sit on my porch, going through a case of pumpkin ale.
“I think he does it all day, from sun-up to sun-down,” I say.
“No, I mean how many years has he been doing it?” says Tina the Lesbian. “Because I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t riding his bicycle around town all day.”
“About 18 years as far as I can tell,” I say. “Probably even longer.”
“And that’s all he does?” says Tina the Lesbian.
“Well, he used to have a walkman, now he has an iPod,” I say. “So he’s evolved somewhat.”
“Is that the same bike he’s been riding for almost two decades?” says Tina the Lesbian.
“I don’t know, I just know he rides a bike all day,” I say.
“How old do you think he is?” says Tina the Lesbian.
“Older than me, that’s for sure,” I say. “He’s gotta be over 40.”
“Why don’t you ask him?” says Tina the Lesbian.
“You ask him,” I say. “You’re the one who wants to know.”
“No… he’s kinda creepy,” Tina the Lesbian says. “And there’s no way to start that conversation without it being really awkward.”
“Best not to think too hard about things like the retarded guy riding his bike all day,” I say. “Best to let them go about their day in peace.”
“I think it’ll be a sad day when he stops riding that bike, for whatever reason,” says Tina the Lesbian. “Like old age, or getting hit by a car. I don’t know exactly what he’s got so I won’t speculate on whether that might do something to him.”
“It’s like Lenny from Of Mice and Men,” I say. “They don’t tell you want he’s got, but he ain’t right, that’s for certain.”
“What do you think he’s listening to on his iPod?” says Tina the Lesbian.
“Mozart,” I say. “Or just Top 40 radio. Nothing bombastic that will drown out traffic.”
“Is he a metaphor for something in our lives?” says Tina the Lesbian. “Is he a symbol of the innocence we wished we still had? Do we envy him for the simple joys he experiences that are absent in our lives.”
“No, he’s just the retarded guy who rides his bike around town all day,” I say. “No less, no more. Now give me your keys because you’re philosophically drunk.”
“I didn’t drive here,” says Tina the Lesbian. “I walked here from down the street.”
“All right, then hand over your copy of Eat, Pray, Love,” I say. “I don’t want you to get a PUI.”
I’m not sure what the Philosophy Police do when they tag you for Philosophizing Under the Influence. Maybe they suspend your ability to find meaning in everything for six months. And the fine you pay is to your sense of self.