Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mr. Pipe Man

There is a man. I pass him every day as I drive to or from home. He sits in front of his house on the same bench in the same posture at the same time every day. His sole companions are his wooden pipe and his dog that seems to be part wolf. His pepper and salt hair is trimmed comfortably and his mustache sits upon his upper lip regally.

I have come to believe that without this man sitting upon his bench with his pipe and his dog the world would cease to go around. I imagine that I know him. Instead of rushing on by on errand, I fancy that I will pull into his driveway and ramble up his sidewalk. His dog will barely deem me worth acknowledgment while the man puffs on his pipe. And I will walk right up to the man and say, “Hello, Mr. Pipe Man, how are you on this fine day? May I join you on your bench and watch the world go by?” Mr. Pipe Man will sagely nod his head and down I will plop beside him.

The cars will roll by us. People walking their dogs and teenagers texting will wander by our place. And the pipe will puff and I will watch the world go by me, the man, and his dog. To myself, I will wonder of the thoughts of Mr. Pipe Man. Yet, conversation will not flow between us because we are comfortable in long stretching silence. While I become distracted by the turquoise blue sky and the wispy clouds, Mr. Pipe Man must be musing on the goings and comings of our neighbors. I wonder what he sees that the rest of us do not take time to see.

The scent of summer flowers mixed with the chill wind of fall will dance with our senses. The wolf-dog will lie contentedly at our feet and the man will be wrapped in a cloud of pipe smoke while I am wrapped in a cozy blanket. As the leaves change, time will stand still for us as the world passes us by. My car will stand still in the Pipe Man’s driveway quickly becoming friends with the leaves. Yet, the road will still be busy and constantly filled with people. People rushing through their lives. The colors of the leaves will entrance me while the Pipe man stares thoughtfully into the distance. I wonder if he is secretly laughing at how we all rush throughout our days barely taking time to breathe let alone live.

As we sit on the bench with the floral patterned cushions, the trees will lose their vibrancy of color. People will become strangely deformed oversized marshmallows and the man with the pipe will finally leave his bench for the warmth of his house that has stood a silent watcher behind his bench all this time. His dog will drag its body off the ground and plod to the warmth of the house. Mr. Pipe Man will have left me on the bench by myself without a look back. Yet, I will have no hard feelings. Instead, I will dig my keys out from deep within the pocket of my summer shorts. Quickly, I will fold up my cozy blanket and hurry to the car in my flip flops. As I huddle in the car, I will wonder what Mr. Pipe Man has been thinking of all summer and fall long.

I will pull out of Mr. Pipe Man’s driveway and head home. I feel like I know Mr. Pipe Man. I know where he lives and I know where he sits. I know Mr. Pipe Man’s dog and I know his pipe. For whom would he be without the companionship of his pipe? It is an extension of him. Then as I guide the car into my driveway suddenly I will realize that it is still a summer afternoon. The green is still lush and the Pipe man still puffs on his pipe.

p.s. photo the compliments of flickr and Edgar Barany