I see these people walking down my alley almost every single day. From my back porch, I see them, or from my kitchen window. And I always wonder: Who are these people? How do they live? What was the most recent thing they ate? Of course, I keep my counsel. But these people, they mean something to me—I mean, I see them walking down my alley almost every single day.
Groove Man is a tall and slender cat—I think he would like it, me calling him a "cat"—probably in his late thirties. He often wears leather pants and a blazer and a black beret. He always has a Walkman on, and sometimes he smokes something that is not a regular cigarette, and he sings softly; I think it’s R&B, or perhaps jazz. Groove Man walks slowly, dips down a bit with each step, shimmies—he swings when he walks, and he snaps the fingers on his right hand. Groove on, Groove Man!
There is a Dunkin Donuts right across the alley from my building. Can you imagine the luxury? It’s right behind my house! Also near my building is a university. And there is a young man, who I imagine studies at the university, who gets up most every morning around 10 and strolls to the Dunkin Donuts for a large coffee and a wax-paper sack that, I presume, contains donuts. He usually wears sweatpants and has touseled hair. Once, I thought, poor guy, doesn’t even have his own coffee maker. But then, I thought, the Dunkin Donuts, it’s almost as close to his building as it is to mine. The whole trip takes him about five minutes. Lucky Donut Boy!
The Two Old Ladies, One of Whom Wears A Rubber Band On Her Head
These ladies, they live right next door to me, with two men who I presume are their husbands. I’m looking into their back yard right now. One is more interesting than the other, so I’ll confine my description to her. She is very old. She must be 90. Most of the time, she wears a different type of shoe on each foot. She usually carries a plastic bag from the grocery store. Through rain, snow, or the heat of summer, she shuffles slowly out the back gate with her companion, and the two of them make their way to the little convenience store-slash-Pakistani video-rental place, where she buys a copy of the newspaper. Here’s the thing I can’t figure out: She wears a rubber band on her head! It goes beneath her chin, up the sides of her face, and across the top of her head, as if she were trying to keep her hair from blowing away! What’s with that, Old Lady Who Wears A Rubber Band On Her Head?!
This woman, she has really, really big boobs. I’m not objectifying her, here; I speak not of her boobs in a sexual way, nor do I mean to cause hurt feelings of any kind. I’m just saying: Her boobs are huge! She’s probably 40, and short, and a bit portly, and she wears tight shirts, and the underside of her boobs, I swear, it bobbles along right at the level of her waistband. If you were to look at her from the side, and measure the distance from the front of her boobs to the back of her bottom, I bet this would measure three feet! I forgot to mention: Her bottom sticks out pretty far, too. You go, Boob Lady!
You know how some people can read while they’re walking? That’s what Literary Boy does! And sometimes, he’s reading great big textbooks; I mean, those things are heavy. I wish I could see what the subjects of the textbooks are, but understand: When Literary Boy is walking towards the university, he’s passing my porch from my left to my right. If you think about it, this means the cover of the books he’s reading is always facing away from me. When he comes back from the university, he’s never reading a book. Maybe he’s a speed reader! Maybe he can read whole chapters as he walks to class, leaving the rest of his time fancy-free! Wouldn’t that be something? You’re the future, Literary Boy!
Our Little Man
Some people would call Our Small Man a bum. I have thought the word myself, at times, but immediately felt bad—it’s not nice to call somebody a bum—and I feel a certain affection for him. He is very short, and I’d like to give him food, but I’m afraid if I do, he’ll never go away. So I don’t, because I am kind of a jerk, if you must know. Our Small Man, he carries shopping bags full of clothes and things he’s collected. He often stops to rest next to my dumpster, and sometimes places a cup of coffee upon it. I think he’d like to riffle through my dumpster, but he can’t, because we have a cable stretched across the lid that’s padlocked on the side (Isn’t that crazy, that we lock up our garbage? But if you don’t, people like Our Small Man will pull stuff out of the dumpster and make a mess in the alley. See?) One time, my boyfriend’s parents came from Ohio to spend Thanksgiving with us, and, when his mom was coming up the back stairs with a load of laundry, there was Our Small Man—standing next to the dumpster with his pants down! Well, I tried to distract my boyfriend’s mom, but of course, she saw Our Little Man’s thingy. Wave next time, Small Man!