I’m an old man, okay? I’m finally starting to realize that. Slowly. One loss at a time. For instance, I used to run to and around a neighborhood park before breakfast three times a week. Now I walk there and sit on a bench before heading back. That kind of thing. That, and then there’s a young woman who walks by, briskly, probably on her way to work. I say young. Well not that young, maybe in her thirties. Late thirties. But to a guy in his late seventies, that’s young.
My head snaps when she passes. That’s hard-wiring from an earlier age and an aesthetic judgment. She’s art on the hoof. And I’ve always appreciated art so don’t think I’m a horny old fart coasting on fumes of hormones past. I’m not. My attitude with this particular lady is a different thing. I have tried saying, “Hi,” as she cruises by. She never answers. Just keeps going. I find that annoying and even insulting. I just want her to say “Hi” back. Or even just wave her hand to acknowledge that I’m alive, to affirm my presence among the living. You get overlooked a lot when you’re older…fade into the woodwork of life.
One morning, before the woman came by, there was a young dog running loose, scared, excited, chasing here and there looking for something, for someone. I walked near him. Knelt. Held out my hand with a piece of my bagel. He was cute, short, mostly beagle with maybe some Jack Russell. I spoke softly, crooning. “Here, boy. Don’t be frightened.” He stopped five feet from me, head down nose forward. No collar. As he inched forward to snatch the treat, a woman spoke behind me. “He must be lost, poor baby.” I looked over my shoulder. It was my ice lady. “Look,” she began, like she was used to command…maybe in an office or a bank, “why don’t you stay by your bench with him and I’ll contact the shelter.” She pulled out her cell phone, punching digits, talking, before hurrying away.
‘Your bench’, she called it. Like I owned it. So, she has noticed me there. Hmm. She just could never be bothered to stop and say hello.
A week later, I’m sitting on my bench, Mylo on a leash…the shelter let me adopt him. The woman stops to pet my dog, scratch behind his ears. She smiles at me, says “Hi.” I don’t answer. That’s all I ever wanted from her.
Retired trainer, and writing instructor, Joe Novara and his wife live in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Writings include novels, short stories, a memoir and various poems, plays, anthologies and articles. Read more at https://freefloatingstories.wordpress.com/