It is a sunny Friday morning and B and I are returning from our daily game of tennis when we encounter another neighborhood favorite: Godiva Guy.
He is shuffling down the sidewalk in front of his building wearing an overcoat and heavy pants, though we are sweating in shorts and t-shirts. In one hand, a leash connects his hand to an ancient chocolate cocker spaniel, Godiva, who was probably cute at one time but age and weariness have whithered her appearance. We have, several times, learned Godiva Guy’s real name. We have even chanted it to each other multiple times to try and remember it. We have failed.
B noncommittally waves, sidestepping the mummified Godiva, who wags her stump of a tail and pulls on her leash. “God-i-VA,” Godiva Guy whines gruffly, if whining gruffly is even possible, and tugs on the leash. Having millions of walks worth of experience at this game, Godiva plants her little furry chocolate feet on the sidewalk and continues to stare up at B with doddering, cloudy eyes. Save me, she says.
“God-I-VA!” Godiva Guy whines louder, and louder still than that because he is mostly deaf and since he can’t hear himself very well assumes Godiva can’t either. He tugs again, muttering something under his breath. We act as if we are fixed in place, watching a routine we stopped being amused by months ago, yet continue to inch down the sidewalk slowly so we do not become engaged in a conversation that could very well last millennia.
Godiva Guy catches B’s eye and we know it is over, we know we will never return to our homes because we will starve, die and rot right here on the sidewalk listening to Godiva Guy talk about a whole lot of nothing. “See the weather? S’posed to get more snow,” he grumbles, yet not unkindly, and gestures to the sky with his little ziploc bag of dog poo. Sticking out of the bag is a silver serving spoon, his weapon of choice, that we’ve all wondered if he runs through the dishwasher and uses to serve himself mashed potatoes on Sundays.
“This weather can’t stick around for long, can it Godiva?” he asks her more than us and we dare to glance sideways at each other because we know this is our out, this is our chance. We must take it if we value seeing our families again.
“Well, stay warm,” B chirps and we turn our backs to hear him respond, but it is again more to the dog, and we know have escaped yet again. We dare to turn back after we are down the sidewalk a bit and he is bending over Godiva, who has decided to squat for her morning necessity. “That’s it, girl,” he coos, and readies his spoon. Feeling we have violated a sacred and disturbing privacy, we turn and continue on.