Friday, January 06, 2006


I meet a neighbor on the street and I don't know what to say so I greet him with a "Hey Hi Guy!" and start to walk away. But then I pause because I see that look in his eye that says he wants to reply. Finally, after a moment's hesitation, he extends the conversation. "And a Hey Hi Guy back at you."

I assume he is through and wave a too-da-loo, but then see his outstretched hand. I assume he just wants to shake. Instead he makes a big high five with a smile that springs alive and so I do comply, I know not why. He presses on the cliche conversation.

"How's it with you?" he asks. Like a sap, I've fallen into his trap. I respond, "Fine, how's it with you?" He says "Fine." I say "Fine." We exchange "Thank Gods" and nods and odds of empty phrases.

The next thing I know were in this bar drinking booze and trading news about this and that but mostly about his cat that's getting fat and caught a rat and hid it in his favorite hat and now he's plagued by fleas crawling up and down his knees and "What do you think of that?" he asks and looks at me, quizzically.

"Are you allergic to fleas?" I ask. When he says "Natch!" I say "Scratch!" I belt down my drink and that's it. I split and stiff him for the tab. I can hear his blab-blab-blab and suddenly it occurs to me he is just a lonely slob who hates his job and needs a friend desperately.

So I turn around just in time to learn that he thinks the same of me. "Hi Guy," I sigh "Hi Guy," is his reply. There's a tear in his eye as we say goodbye.

"See you around," I say. There's not a sound from his trembling lips.


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