I was a little unnerved yesterday afternoon when I noticed a man standing on the shingled overhang adjacent my living room window, right next to the chair where I was reading. The sun was shining, I figured I could escape out my front door, and since it has been promised for many years that my porch would be painted, I thought, “Well, ooohkaaay….” But, it is a second story window, so you know…people out there are just unexpected. A full grown human walking around on a tiny patch of roof that, as far as I know, has no more structural integrity than a wet newspaper, just seemed unsafe. All in all, I figured he was in greater peril than me. Not wanting to startle him off his perch, I moved quietly away from the window, and stayed away until he left.
This morning I hear the rumble of metal dragging across the asphalt driveway below my apartment. My painter has returned, and here comes his ladder between my porch and my window. I go outside to say hello. A skinny kid with 3 Musketeer-ey facial hair looks up at me cheerfully, whistling as he leans the ladder on the building. He is keeping his wool, Irish cap on despite the heat, thus preserving the dignity of his artistic nature as he labors. “Hi!” I say. “Hi!” he replies, “Is it ok if I paint your porch?” “Sure, why not?” I explain my concerns about startling him yesterday, and he laughs. “No worries,” he says. I go inside, and the painter promptly climbs onto my little overhang and forgets that he is not alone.
For, accompanying thuds of paint slapping into place, mostly, my friends – mostly – the painter outside my window is talking to himself and humming as if no one else can hear. “In the land of a thousand suns!” he has just bellowed, twice in a row, rehearsing perhaps, an embellished version of his work day to regale his friends when it is Local Brew time. “Thunder Man!” he has chimed out, tunefully trumpeting the arrival of a superhero in his imagination. I thought he might be chatting on a phone embedded in his ear, but his outbursts of sung and spoken fanfare interrrupt the one sided conversation so abruptly and enthusiastically, only the most besotted of lovers could endure it. Every so often, he whistles (much better than he sings), and once or twice has cracked himself up hilariously. God help me, he has just undertaken a solo rendition of “Piano Man…” Ladadadadeeedaaaaaahaaaa……
And there it stands – I have been unexpectedly gifted by a porch-eye view into the nature of private human happiness. The story for today has come to me. It is about time for lunch. Should I offer Piano Thunder Man a little snack or drink? It seems risky – I do not want to disturb his reverie, startling him away from the Land of a Thousand Suns, back to the side of my little building, where there is really nothing to do but paint, and keep your feet on the ground.