“Hello, Can I tell you something?” he asked. “About your personality,” he added, with a shy grin.
“What? That you like it,” I smiled.
“Yeah, I do,” he chuckled and sipped his coffee.
I was talking to the “Mayor.” The Mayor is a 6 foot something black man who lives in my building, but who also spends a great deal of his time in our parking lot. I liked the Mayor right away when I met him and it’s impossible not to meet the Mayor. He knows everybody. He’s friendly to everybody. Everyone needs a Mayor in their neighborhood or their life.
I’ve talked about my need for community before. I’ve talked about why I loved the neighborhood feel of New York city. It’s one of the biggest and most densely populated places going, but within that you can find little neighborhoods, little places where everybody knows your name.
In California, I thought that was going to be more difficult. Hell, everyone is always in their respective cars. It’s hard to feel neighborhoody as you jet by in your personal speed capsule.
Now, “The Mayor” is a nickname that I thought up for the mayor to amuse Wifesy. I used to throw it around all the time. We’d come downstairs to get the car to go somewhere and I’d say, “Oh, look, the Mayor’s up. He’s kissing babies and drinking coffee again.” “Awesome, the Mayor’s outside, guarding our automobile!” This always made Wifesy smile. I couldn’t help it. It was accurate.
The Mayor is a sweet, sweet, man. I wish he had a better view from out of that parking lot. He stands there and looks out over the 101, everyday, either sipping his coffee and / or having a cigarette. He’s pretty much the only one that does this. There is a common area in the building, a more wooded locale, where you could go and sit on the stairs. It might be nicer for him. But, the Mayor doesn’t hang out there. He hangs in the parking lot and I think I know why. More people. I mean, everyone has to come and get their car. So, the mayor greets them all with a hello and a “how’d ya do.” I even ask him things like, “Say, Mayor, what’s going on with that water sound in the building we all hear night and day. Or…Do you know that guy, Mayor? Does he live here? ‘Cause I haven’t seen him before.” The mayor always has an answer, “It’s the vacant apartment on 2 or that’s Ed. Yeah, Ed’s been livin’ here a long time.” It’s like having a town gossip without the sh*tty gossip part. The Mayor, he just watches.
So, the mayor pulled me aside to say he liked my personality and I said, “Thank you.” He went on to say that he enjoys talking to me, but I turned the tables on him. The good times weren’t about me. “No, it’s you,” I said. “You’re the one it’s really enjoyable to chat with. I’m from New York and I knew other, area guys, that would strike up conversations with me, like you do. It always makes a place feel homey. It always makes you feel good.”
“You know what I used to call you before I knew your name?” I added. (It was time to tell Clark Kent that he was really Superman.)
“What?” he asked.
“The Mayor. Because you know everybody.”
He laughed. “Yeah, I’ve always been like that. I used to have a house and I’d always be out in the yard. And people would come by and wave or stop for a chat. I really did know everybody.”
“Well, I for one am glad you’re here,” I said.
He smiled again.
“It’s gonna be a hot one today,” he answered, picking up our usual rhythm.
“Yeah, real hot,” I said.
“Probably 110,” he said making his way over to his little slice of the parking lot.
“Man, that’s hot,” I responded.
The Mayor smiled and I smiled.
Stay cool, Mr. Mayor. Stay cool, I say to myself with a smile. You’re the only thing that brings life to this concrete slab. If the other cold fish in the building won’t say it to you, heck, I will. You’re important and I’m glad you’re here.
Special end-note: Now, this included video is not of me or the Mayor. But, it is a perfect depiction of my new life. Please enjoy the hit viral vid, “It’s Getting Real in the Whole Foods Parking Lot.”
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