...To illuminate the round, bald noggin of Old Fat Naked Guy, my neighbor next door, staring in my living room window.
Yes, each day he sat on his stoop, chair turned at the perfect angle to watch me work-out in the wee morning dim of my first-floor apartment.
Early rising slugs kept him company-- no doubt chatting about my pitiful lack of form-- and a layer of dew shone on his great domed brow, his sandpapery jowls, and his perpetually shirtless Buddha belly.
"Not again," I'd grumble, tossing my workout jacket over my shoulder and wiping sweat from my forehead. I glared at him through the window, vowing to remember to close the curtains next time.
Which is what I vowed every time. But at 5am, pre-coffee, vows are like rice cakes. They don't amount to much.
So he just sat there, still and unmoved by my glare, like a TV watcher who went from gameshow, to soap, to Oprah blindly... indiscriminately. Just because anything else involved rising to change the channel.
I imagine he felt this program had it all; girl in spandex plus pratfalls. The quintessential combination of sex and humor. How could I expect anything but his regular audience?
It was my own fault, really.
Of course, Old Fat Naked Guy didn't just tune-in to the Good Morning Pittsburgh Workout Comedy Show. No, he enjoyed Upstairs Housemate Walking Dog. And Downstairs Housemate Going to Work. He took in Drunk Unemployed Dude Fourth of July Party Week to our left. And the Landlord Letting Herself In Without Notice show that, while airing sporadically, did have quite a few episodes.
Yes, he sat outside on that stoop for hours, watching the world go by, sometimes nursing a beer and occasionally shouting inside to Mrs. Old Fat Naked Guy to fill in the lulls.
And like actors who don't actually know the people they touch the most, we-- the players in his regularly scheduled programming-- did not actually know his name.
This was not because we hadn't spoken to him...
It was because we couldn't understand a single word that came out of his mouth.
"Grumma tumma whaddaya mumble mum," he'd say, pointing at Upstairs Housemate's dog in the language which-- from the effects of beer, false teeth and perhaps a colorful youth-- had become all his own.
"Whaddaya grumma tumma mumble mum," came the reprise.
Upstairs Housemate would pause, then smile. "His name is Barkley," she'd say, working the art of statistical probability, wave, and then politely slip away.
Or if I were taking out the trash:
"Flamma jamma ramma lamma dingdong!" he'd shout, waving a finger with some perturbation.
"Yup, garbage day tomorrow!" I'd exclaim cheerfully, sensing I was actually getting a lecture on something, but realizing that without the first edition of the Old Fat Naked Guy to English dictionary, I would just have to miss his words of caution.
Or if my roommate's brothers were visiting:
"Sheeg glabba frabja ya blonga!"
"Good morning! Yes, it's always nice to get together with family, isn't it?" she'd sing, and flee quickly into the house.
Soon, I became a homeowner myself, leaving that first floor apartment and Old Fat Naked Guy behind. But every now and then, when I struggle into my exercise clothes and the autumn light just begins to creep into my windows, I wonder how he is.
Is he still alive, sitting there on the stoop, enjoying a whole new Fall Lineup?
Perhaps Young Man Rocking Out To Guitar Hero? Or Ambulance Driver Carting Drunk Unemployed Dude Away for Heart Testing?
Yes, I wonder... I consider those tender semi-stalking moments we shared... And the unexpected piece of wisdom he once imparted to me. Wisdom which, in his honor, I will share with you right now:
"Pooka snooka dooka ga-bungee wa-chingee!"Just something to think about.
Today's question: Any memorable characters in your neighborhood?