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The mayor

November 14, 2011

Last week, walking, I met a fat old guy — I mean, a guy  older & fatter than I am — who before I knew it had me under his wing and was walking me around his hood and adjacent hoods also.

The self-proclaimed “mayor” of the neighborhood, Gil, let’s call him, projected not just his belly and his two artificial knees but his whole lebensphilosophie with every step.

Gil yammered in my ear, got hold of it, and shook it like a bulldog shakes his bone. He knew everyone in the vicinity either by name or face because he waved to everyone, talked to everyone, tried to draw everyone into his sphere of influence. Not such a sphere as the Russians, Chinese, and American powers would contend, but one that would set up him as a power broker, such as that power might be, in his six square blocks of territory.

When he learned that Jen and I were looking for a home — I’d brought two home-for-sale print-outs with me — Gil marched me up to a house in the hood and introduced me to the young housewife, who was home with her one-year-old. She and her lawyer husband had tried to sell the house earlier this year but were not successful. So the Mayor made the introduction and helped show me around. Nice brick house, like almost all in the development, but not quite big enough.

Then we marched across Old Wire, a busy curvy road, and explored a 2.2 acre parcel I’d found online for less than $140K. The house, built in the late ’50s, was a semi-ruin, but there was a strong block detached double-car garage, plus two or three semi-tumbled down stockades of 8′ fencing, even a demonstration board for house siding. Someone, the Mayor informed me, had been hauling heavy equipment in and out of the parcel and must’ve run some kind of construction business.

The acreage also was accessible via Ash, roughly perpendicular to Old Wire, making three drives in and out. The Mayor and I put our fine old heads together and speculated on what it might cost, and what yield, to fix up the old house, divvy the parcel in three, and sell two lots. My goodness, our imaginations were jumping out front on this one.

On the way back to his place, the Mayor showed me a trashed-out rambler that had been occupied by a couple who’d gotten in trouble with the law. Drug dealing, probably. Makes you wonder, don’t it, he inquired.

It certainly does.

The bizarre circuits our lives take. Our desperate and unattainable longings. Our being shut off and then shut away from what we like to call polite society.

And so we ramble on.

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