10 August 2011

Taking the Dog

Filed under: Culture, Reflections — ktismatics @ 9:30 am

Yesterday Anne and I drove a guy down to the Greyhound bus station in Denver. Our passenger was a cordial and responsive conversationalist who thankfully didn’t feel the common urge to fill silences with talk. He did start humming to himself as we approached downtown, probably signaling his increased anxiety as we approached our destination. This guy, who is homeless, is heading back to his home town of New York City for the first time in ten years. He had all his stuff with him — a pack, a sleeping roll — but I think he expects he’ll come back West sooner or later. He’s going back to visit his aging mother — possibly, he believes, for the last time — and his younger brother, whom he had not spoken to in at least five years before Anne arranged a phone call last week. He gave himself a haircut in preparation for his return home, though the raggedness of the job unfortunately gives him the wild look of the untreated schizophrenic, which is one of the things this guy also happens to be. It’s going to be a long ride: a day and a half with two or three transfers. But Greyhound is cheaper than a plane, and you don’t need to show personal identification to “take the dog,” which is a good thing if you don’t happen to have any ID.

Instead of parking in the lot and paying the $4 fee, I drove around the block a few times while Anne helped her friend pick up his ticket and get oriented. On my first lap my attention was drawn to a guy standing at the corner of 20th and Curtis, evidently waiting for someone. Shortish and paunchy, he was decked out in full Elvis regalia: red-and-black bell-bottomed polyester pantsuit, pointed black boots, high bouffant hairdo, black plastic sunglasses. I watched as several pedestrians passed him by without giving him an obvious second glance. When the light changed and I made my left turn I rolled my window halfway down. “Lookin’ sharp!” I yelled out to the Elvis impersonator as I passed by. In my rearview mirror I saw him executing a long, full-bodied theatrical fist-pump. I suppose even the King himself, before the private jets and the limos, had to take the dog from gig to gig and wait for somebody to pick him up at the downtown station. When I came back around on my second lap Elvis was gone.


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