Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cast of Characters

I love my neighborhood. Ian and I chose to live in this area specifically because we like the layout, the proximity to places we like to go, and because it has character. One of the things that I love so much about my neighborhood is the contrast. There are a lot of younger people buying up old houses and remodeling them. There are elderly people who are still living in homes they bought a half a century ago. There are also a lot of run down rentals and houses that have been strangely subdivided into multiple apartments. The wide variety of dwellings lends itself quite obviously to a wide variety of people. I love my neighbors and am always entertained by someone on my street. I'm sure that my tendency toward neighbor-watching came straight from my dad who, during my childhood, always had a pair of binoculars at the ready and a clever nickname for everyone within spying distance.

Our neighbor across the street, Mark, who lives in one of the worst examples of do-it-yourself remodeling in existence retired at a fairly young age from the financial industry. He then rode his bike across the United States in celebration and now spends his days tending to the neighborhood stray cats and doing odd things like walking up and down the street while brushing his teeth. Ian and Mark enjoy talking about sci-fi books. The house next door to ours is an ugly rental with an unkempt yard and is occupied by several girls that Ian and I refer to as "The Sexy Coeds". This group of girls gives us the largest variety in our neighbor-watching. My favorite is when they get all glammed up and ride their cruiser bikes a half a block to the coffee shop I can see from my driveway to get an iced mocha latte (or whatever it is they drink) and then ride back ten minutes later. Jesus, another guy across the street is also retired and spends his days working in his yard which reminds me very much of the secret garden. He likes to set up tiny scenes around an old hand-crafted doll house in his front yard. He also invites us over regularly to see new features he's added to his yard such as the river he built in his backyard. Steve a.k.a. Van Guy lives in a van in Jesus's driveway, wears the same clothes everyday and drinks a 36 pack of Natural Light a day. I really wish Van Guy would go live down by the river. He gives me the creeps.

Today a new character entered the scene. He may have just been making a cameo, but with the way Van Guy drinks I'm guessing he's going to be a regular. We were returning home from a walk to the bakery when we saw this:

I do own binoculars, but I prefer my telephoto lens.

A man I have already affectionately named Can Guy. He appeared to be homeless but he had a pretty sweet set-up with a bike that had an attached trailer and he had obviously been busting his butt collecting cans. He told us that he collected $300.00 in cans just on the Fourth of July- pretty impressive. When we arrived home Jesus was bringing out bag after bag of empty beer cans left-over from Van Guy. This guy hit the jackpot. I don't know why he is in the situation he is in, but Van Guy and Can Guy might have the start of a "beautiful" relationship.

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