Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Three Wise Men

A Mr. Cranky's neighborhood column
-Image by Prawny from Pixabay-

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering



Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn't for any religious reasons. They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin." -Jay Leno

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

There are three gentle men who live in my neighborhood that my daughter has nicknamed, respectfully not sarcastically, the three wise men. Fortunately for her, unlike her old man, sarcasm is not an automatic, go-to reaction.

I don't see them very often and I'm always surprised when I do because they're obviously living in a different movie than I am so they sort of jolt me out of my comfortable rut for a few seconds when I encounter them.

Recently, while puttering about in the kitchen, I happened to look up and out of the picture window that looks out across a narrow side yard and provides a scenic view of a small porch/main entrance of the house next door where My Favorite Mormons live.

[Readers of a certain age may remember the sitcom, My Favorite Morman, from the early sixties.]

As to the why of said picture windows scenic view, both of the houses in question are very old and were modified multiple times before me and mine came along. There are myriad examples of odd architectural juxtapositions throughout the neighborhood.

Two of the three wise men were making their rounds, collecting aluminum cans
from various porches throughout our hood that people set aside for them so they can make a few extra bucks by recycling them.

One is actually more likely to encounter only two of the three gentle men in question as one of them has health problems that often keep him at home.

All three of them are developmentally disabled, a term I much prefer to the one commonly used till recently. This is one occasion in which I'm comfortable siding with the armies of political correctness.

Just a sec', I better check. I'll be right back...

Hoo-boy, I may not be woke after all. The proper term depends on who you believe. Ain't livin' in the information age great?

Anyways, one was as tall as the other one was short. They were wearing matching bright red Ohio State jackets and knit caps. The tall one was tossing cans off the porch. The short one was picking them up, one by one, and putting them in a trash bag.

When they were done the shorter one linked arms with the taller one as they toddled away, seeming to need the support.

My daughter knows them better than I do. When I occasionally encounter them when I'm in the midst of one of my two (in theory) daily one mile walks, I can see, and feel, their apprehension.

I always make a point of smiling broadly and saying, "Gentle men, how are you today?" to put them at ease. They always seem relieved and respond with a generic, "Good, how are you?"

If they notice the pause between gentle and men they're unimpressed, but it makes me feel kind, literary, and lyrical.

That rude noise you just heard was a snort of derision by Dana.

I don't know if their apprehension is the result of my physical appearance — large head, no neck, tank shaped torso and a mug that I'm told makes me look like I work for Tony Soprano if I'm not smiling — or the fact they've probably taken a lot of crap from not so gentle men.

I hope it's the former but it's probably both.

It's a very long walk from their house, at the other end of the neighborhood and far beyond my one-mile circuit, to the bridge that crosses over a large creek (that locals claim is, and label accordingly, a river) to downtown Hooterville (my label) where they do their grocery shopping at the Sparkle market.

[Other readers of a certain age may remember another sitcom from the sixties called Petticoat Junction that featured a town named Hooterville.]

(Rusty) Hooterville is a bit different than the one in the sitcom. Drucker's store is now a saloon called the Dream Bar. Homer Bedloe is long gone and the train still runs. Now it's subsidized by The Fedrl Gummit and loses $1,200,000 a year.

The Shady Rest Hotel, now called Uncle Joe's Motel, owned and operated by Betty Jo Bradly, has been closed by a temporary restraining order since the city went to court seeking to have it declared a public nuisance after a recent spike in heroin overdoses as well as long unaddressed building code violations.


I'm on it, Dana.

The reason my daughter knows them better than I is that she gives them rides if she sees them walking to or from Sparkle Market. She not only doesn't look like one of Tony's employees she's one of those people, like her late mom, that people immediately like and trust.

I don't have that gift. If I pulled up and offered them a ride they would probably run. But I am pretty good at preventing people from sitting next to me on a bus just by looking at them. In my defense, I only do this if there are other seats available, and people are always pleasantly surprised if I smile and turn on the charm. Well, usually.

My daughter is the reason that I know why one of them often stays home, and where their home is. She also informs me that the short one (oops, height-challenged?) is the de facto leader and that they all have jobs working for a local non-profit that employs developmentally disabled(?) folks.

Sometimes, when I'm thinking about/bitching about my anemic fixed income and/or my health problems I think about the three wise men and I'm grateful. Well, sometimes. And no, I don't know what happened to Tony, he never calls.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Cranky don't tweet. 


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