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17 July 2002 - 10:26


I was setting the sprinkler on the south curbing, getting my second shower of the morning as I tried to get it adjusted just right to hit all the grass, while at the same time minimizing splatter onto concrete and asphalt, when I heard it.

A Dodge engine starting.

And I looked up to see Stan's old Crewcab pulling away from the curb two blocks up, headed out for his morning trip to the post office.

Now, Stan is small, thin as a rail, probably close to his eighties, if not nineties, and ornery, with grey crewcut hair. I rarely pass up a chance to visit with Stan.

So I stepped out into the middle of the street, and waited. As expected, the big gold truck veered towards me, and accelerated.

And pulled aside at the last minute, coming to rest with Stan beside me. With accusations of me being either really stupid, or really brave. The next few minutes was the usual banter, poking verbal jabs and insults at each other (pointing at the three Cross pens in my left pocket, he asked which made the most mistakes).

Then I asked about his wife, Sue. She's not been well, but I was pleased to hear he has her home again. According to Stan, she's been getting mean. But he understands, he knows what it's like to be in pain, mentioning his three month stint in a military hospital.

Now, I have heard this story a time or two. About him being responsible for a fleet of 30 Harley Davidson motorcycles for an army reconnaissance group. And we're now at a crossroads in our conversation. If I don't watch what I say, the conversation will shift from Sue's health to Stan's motorcycle exploits in the army.

I ask anyway.

How'd you end up in the hospital? Wreck a motorcycle?

And got to hear it all again. With some new twists. The gal in the white Explorer had to turn left, since we had the street blocked. The kid driving the town's truck full of lawn mower and barricades came on through, squeezing between me and the Landcruiser. Wasn't until the young female neighbor came up behind him in her little maroon car that we decided to end our conversation and let the town's people get on with life.

But it was a good way to start the day.

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