Today he wore a dingy long-sleeve dress shirt with what appeared to be a dyed-on vest with matching dyed-on tie. It was a bit clownish, but at least this morning he appeared less disheveled. He spoke in his usual hushed tone when he passed by my table as I went about my morning routine setting up my outdoor office.
“Mumble jumble, mumbo mumble, jumble, mumble,” he said donning a confident smile after I complimented him on his attire.
“Can you speak louder; I can’t hear you over all the traffic” I said… trying really hard to hide my impatience with his mumbling. “Why do you speak so low, anyway?”
He leaned in closer and gave his usual response, “Because I don’t like to yell.”
“Well, it’s not like you’re yelling really; you just have to speak louder if you want to be heard over all the traffic; it’s really noisy out here with all the horns, sirens, and roaring engines; plus, I don’t want you all up in my face trying to talk to me.”
Then attempting to speak louder he responded with an equal measure of cheer and confidence, “Mumble jumble, mumble jumble, mumble jumble…”
From the little I could make out in his slurred whisper, he said what sounded like…
“I find myself becoming more and more attracted to you; you’re so pretty. Can I call you sometime to talk? Sometimes I just want a friend to spend time with.”
Well sometimes I’m too nice for my own good; but because I have now learned everything I need to know about how my kindness is often mistaken for weakness, I’m putting a stop to that destructive behavior of mine… especially considering I no longer have enough ass for my kindness to come back and bite. But old habits are hard to break, so the nice person inside of me (the one who never wants to hurt anyone’s feelings) responded to his request for a friend to talk to.
“I’m married; but… ”
I ignored his attempt to interrupt me and continued…
“I don’t mind talking to you when you pass by each day; but you are going to have to speak louder if you want me to hear you; I don’t want you all up in my face when you’re talking to me… what’s the point of talking anyway if no one can hear you?”
The idea that my initial response might leave this man with the impression that my relationship status is the only thing standing between us did not sit well with me, so I added with a bit of indignation, “even if I weren’t married, what makes you think I would want to spend time with you?”
My response angered him and he walked off grumbling something about the many women he has at his disposal.
I began to tell him how happy I was for him in that regard; but the sound of my voice was no match for the noisy street as he shuffled further from me… heading, no doubt, for the neighborhood liquor store for his morning drink.
My heart feels for his plight, no matter how much this world discourages me to feel, so I bit my tongue to avoid spitting the words that were dancing on its tip. Although his boldness certainly tempted me to say, “Dude! You’re not my type! I like a man with a complete set of teeth and access to a daily shower. And although the sky makes a beautiful roof; I’d much rather my man live under one with tiles. And though I’m not pretentious and truly believe that no car makes a man, I still prefer a man whose wheels are motored by an engine; because while Grocery carts do serve a purpose, they don’t make the best vehicles for nights out on the town. PuhLeeze leave me the hell alone!”