Thursday, July 10, 2008

In the Hood

I spent all yesterday playing so today's the day to take care of chores: laundry, dusting, vacuuming, and such. Yet I'd rather blog than clean out the bathtub.

We live in a tony section of town, on a one-way, one-block street that's mostly apartments and doctors' offices. There are only a handful of businesses so generally it's pretty quiet and there's not a lot of street life. My husband is now on handshaking terms with the barber at the top of the block who cuts his hair every six weeks. Several months back, the barber posted a notice announcing his retirement and thanking his clients for their business. The shop went dark for a few weeks and after a while it seemed that another coiffeur would be taking over. One morning though, the barber was back and it was business as usual. Since my husband speaks little French and the barber no English, it's not exactly clear what happened only that it had something to do with money.

One of the barber's clients is an older gentleman who lives in the building next door. He's probably in his mid 80s, always nattily attired in a coat and tie (although his overcoat is so stained it really should go in the trash). He carries a silver handled cane and stooped nearly into a right angle, he makes his way up the street several times a day for a coffee, beer, or dinner at one of the neighborhood cafes.

We also have a few street people who congregate near the corner store, usually eating, drinking, and smoking. My neighbor dubbed one of the younger guys, "Mr. Talks a Lot" since he was always carrying on a loud, animated conversation with no one in particular. Drinking beer all day long has its side effects, though, and my kids changed his name to "Mr. Pees a Lot" since he had the unfortunate habit of coming into our building's courtyard to relieve himself. He was gone for awhile, reappearing this week looking wan and sick and uncharacteristically quiet. Yesterday afternoon, he happened to be coming into the courtyard as I was going out. The gardienne who cares for our building was there as well. She had the hose out,cleaning up the stink he had left earlier in the day, and let loose a sling of invective, only some of which I caught. He turned and shambled off. There's no trace of him today except a pile of beer cans in the gutter.

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