Marco Without Polo

May 8, 2010

Have you ever had a very intimate conversation with a person, using an entirely normal tone of voice, well within earshot of others, knowing those others cannot hear a word you are saying because they are thoroughly absorbed in another conversation?

This conversation – well, not yet a conversation – this conversation, were it to happen, would be something like that.

…………………

The first time I heard this person was on Waugh Drive.  It was early December – you’ll know why I remember this detail in a moment – and, stopped at the light at Fairview, my attention was caught by a signpost nailed to a telephone pole about 15 feet up.  High enough to deter easy removal.  On a narrow board, perhaps a fence picket, it read:

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

or something along those lines.  The picket, I’ll go ahead and assume it was a picket, was painted white and the lettering was bubbly – fat marshmallow letters that were outlined in black and painted different colors inside.

Yes, Christmas.  Christmas was coming and after the obligatory mental aside into “…is my two front teeth, my two front teeth…” I had to wonder “What do they want for Christmas?” There must be more, I searched and saw another white picket posted about two telephone poles further. The light turned green and as I approached the next sign, I read:

IS A 15 INCH

I smiled. I thought, “I know this one”. Waugh Drive at Fairview is well within the boundaries of Montrose – known to all that live in Houston as the location of choice for our gay community. The answer to my question was likely some wist and lustful bid of longing. The next sign was already closing in:

MACBOOK PRO

I laughed out loud.  You don’t know me. As such, I don’t expect you to know how much I like surprise endings.  I don’t search for hidden gifts, I don’t shake wrapped presents.  Heck – I don’t even peek – unless I’m being led blindfolded by young children that can’t be trusted with my surefootedness anyway. Predictability is so predictable. So ho-hum, hum-drum. And here on Waugh Drive at early-o-clock in the morning, someone had surprised me and for this novel start to my day, I was genuinely grateful. I imagined the under-the-cover-of-night sign poster standing on the hood of their running car, sidled up to the telephone pole, hammer in hand, their smile as they wondered how many people would be amused during their usually routine drive to work.  I liked this person.

And then, one day, I noticed the series had disappeared. At that point, I had been driving by long enough to wonder how long it had been gone – I had stopped noticing it. At first I thought the city, probably the Public Works department, was just doing their job in an unusually diligent manner. It may have been there for weeks, but its removal still qualified as “unusually diligent”. I’ve only recently come to wonder if the poster may have removed their own missive – seeing as how Christmas had already come and gone by the time it disappeared.

…………….

Whether I noticed the second sign before or after the removal of the first, I could not say.  This one was different. More words, two lines worth. A board, could not be a picket. A less-traveled street – Mandell, I think. It is still posted.

(IF ONLY I COULD WIN THE LOTTERY)

I immediately scanned the poles ahead and found empty pockets.  Nothing.  Nothing to reveal the next thought. No bubble of air to buoy my sinking belief that life need not be hum-drum.  What would you do if you won the lottery? Who hasn’t had this conversation and who gives a damn what you would do – we all know the answers, there’s not an original thought to be had here.  Why does this colorful yet droll, uninspiring, underachieving and pedestrian post not end in “…” at least?  Encourage our imagination at least rather than just lay blame for your mediocrity.

I no longer liked this person.

…………………………

Very shortly thereafter, possibly even the same day (spring 2010 has not given me reliable context), I saw another. Driving home from work, headed north on Hazard and just before the Fiesta at Alabama, I saw it.

And then, thankfully, I thought, another:

While my poster had redeemed themselves somewhat by posting two signs rather than only one, I remained disappointed. Of course, who hasn’t thought this very same thought. But, in retrospect to those times I have thought this thought, I realize I have also thought, “Well now, wouldn’t that be boring as hell?!” Yes, please, love me like an aloof bitch. Love me like a love-sick puppy. Don’t just love me but be in love with me. Love me, but only if I think, behave and feel exactly the way you deem I should think, behave and feel. Because, obviously, if you don’t love me the way I love you, you are doing it wrong.

My head was spinning with disgust.

……………….

Yet, here I am, months later, and what I continue to find stunning about it all is that, in a city of over 4 million, within the ‘found art’ nexus of this surprisingly creative town, no one has ventured to post a response.  I can’t imagine I am the only one to form an imagined response – sometimes new, sometimes old – each day as I drive by – each response delivered in accordance with my mood.  I have even made a mental survey of materials on hand at home – wood and paint.  I have determined I should pre-drill the nail hole so the board does not split when, adrenaline burning, I reach from the bed of my pick-up truck to hammer my nail.

So why have I not?  What has this passage of time changed of my perspective of the original poster?  The fact is, there seems to be something fragile that didn’t exist in the original tongue-in-cheek MacBook Pro post.  And yet, it is exactly this fragility that compels me to respond.  At times, I am urged toward a gentle compassion – yet too often, I am disgusted by the public exposure of the insipid depths of someone that should be better than that – someone creative and adventurous enough to post handmade signs on a city thoroughfare.

I cannot reconcile this person.  I cannot decide who they are.  I am not convinced they are worth the energy necessary to respond.  And yet, on the off chance they have begun to feel negligible, one day, I will.  No one that paints in bubbly fat marshmallow letters should be left to feel invisible.

 

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