Saturday, March 28, 2020

Picasso Man

A Mr. Cranky's Neighborhood story

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.

                 (Image by Thanks for your Like • donations welcome from Pixabay) 

Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering
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Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"Picasso said, 'Art is a lie that tells the truth.' What if you just want to tell the truth and not lie about it?" -Nicolas Cage

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

The other morning I was lost in the midst of some random ruminations while purposefully perambulating  letting my mind wander while taking one of my one mile, twice-daily walkabouts in my personal hood — when I crossed paths with Picasso Man.

Not having seen him in quite some time I had assumed that he was either as rehabilitated from whatever afflicts/afflicted him as he was ever likely to be and is no longer walking his circuit,


That the only affliction he suffered/suffers from is old age and that he had come to the conclusion that his daily walks didn't help and that he and his wheeled walker now stayed home.


I may be full of crap, a phenomenon that occurs with disturbing regularity.

The potentially specious speculations above are just that. I actually have no idea as we've never exchanged more than casual, polite greetings. I don't know what motivated/motivates his purposeful perambulations.

I do know...alright, I'm still guessing...I'm reasonably sure he doesn't want to discuss it. It might just be because he strikes me as too tired to bother. I know from personal experience there are all sorts of too tired to bothers and I try to tread carefully.

The closest we've ever come to a conversation was briefly trading observations about a bark, bark, barking dog in someone's backyard that we both think desperately needs a referral to a dog whisperer.

When I used to see him all the time it was always on my morning walk. 

Not having seen him in a while, and me being me, I had created a Picasso Man scenario in my head based on nothing more than my imagination.

I (pictured him/hoped that nowadays he was) eating warm bagels on cold, damp mornings and longing for hooge, yummy, real bagels from New York city — Damn the Gluten! Full speed ahead! — instead of the tiny, bland, generic bagels we have available to us here in the greater Hooterville metropolitan area.

He and Sylvia once spent a three day weekend in the Big Apple. He wasn't impressed, but he had fallen in love with real bagels.

I imagined him watching the Today Show and missing Tom Brokaw, Jane Pauley, and his younger self. He had always had a crush on Jane that he had diplomatically never mentioned to his late wife.

But, there he was.

He was pushing/being held up by his flimsy-looking wheeled walker.

I'm amazed, that to the best of my knowledge, the crappy looking wheels have never gotten stuck, or sent him flying, as he valiantly navigated what used to be sidewalks but now are more like gentle obstacle courses.

Not so gentle when icy or snow-covered.

Picture mostly more or less normal-looking sections but where you have to watch out for subtle up-croppings (in front of ginormous old trees attempting to dislodge or crack the concrete with their roots) or subtle drop-offs from subsidence.

Picture sections that have nearly vanished into the Earth and are now grass-covered. What used to a sidewalk now resembles random stepping stones with no rhyme or reason.

Picture sections that appear to be constructed of enormous, flat stones that are slippery when wet, dangerous when iced over. I'm guessing they're actually made of concrete but have been there so long they've been worn smooth.

Picture... well, you get the picture.

And there are obelisks! Perhaps my hood is even older than I thought?

Most intersections no longer have them but there are still some narrow, six-foot-tall concrete obelisks coated with seriously faded paint (red letters, white background) with the street name spelled out vertically and St, Ave, Ln, etc. tagged on at the bottom.


The letters are carved/cut into the concrete.

[Which has what to do with anything?]

I'm painting vivid word pictures here, Dana. Also, I just think they're really cool.

[Are you ever going to explain why you call this dude Picasso Man?]

I guess I better. We've crossed the 600-word line already and I'm (semi)firmly committed to observing a 1,000-word limit.

Picasso Man is somehow simultaneously blurred, jagged, angular, rounded, bent, and crooked.

He looks like what I suspect many people, certainly me, imagine one of Picasso's less bizarre-looking subjects might look like in real life.

He's very small and looks as though you might see him bouncing and flying down the street like a tumbleweed if the wind picked up.

He has a seemingly permanent stubble on his cheeks and chin that looks like boar bristles.

He always greets me with a wide grin that reveals a limited amount of blurry, jagged, angular, rounded, bent, and crooked teeth.

He gives the impression that he's about to run out of gas, or that he needs to get home and plug himself in. I've seen him pause as if he's powered by the sun and has to absorb a watt or two to keep going.

I'd like to know his story but I'm afraid that if he stopped to talk for too long he might not be able to start again. He does seem a little stronger than when we first met.

I wish my daughter walked around the neighborhood. He'd tell her his story, he wouldn't be able to help himself. It's a gift/curse she inherited from her late mom, the force of nature only one of you Stickies got to know.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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