Thursday, January 3, 2008

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

I was out for a long walk today and I saw one of my all-time favorite people.
No, not the 70-something woman (?) who walks around my 'hood in a big, curly platinum blonde stripper wig, prom dress and beauty-queen sash (no lie- I love her too, though).

Today I saw Carl:

Carl is a wonderful, gentle-hearted guy that rides around my neighborhood on his pimped out bicycle and fluorescent orange safety vest. He's always got the radio playing and a smile on his face. He's kind of a savant, and on one occasion at the grocery store I found myself having a conversation with him. A very friendly and warm guy, he knows more about cars than probably any other human being to walk the planet. He must have seen me get out of my car, because he proceeded to amaze me with everything that he knew about my crappy 1997 Jetta.
He knew the year, the engine type, what type of preventative maintenance I should be getting (but obviously don't) and various problems associated with that particular make & model. I just stood there with a stupid look on my face, impressed at the information in this guy's head. I can't even remember to wash the beast, and he knows the model number of my brake pads.

The first time I encountered Carl I was a little apprehensive. If you don't already know that he's the safest, gentlest soul on the planet, the sight of this dude on a three-wheel bicycle bedazzled with lights, stickers, a radio, a canopy, reflectors and mirrors can be a little unsettling. Withing about 5 seconds of meeting him, however, any thoughts of him being a bicycle-riding thug pretty much disappear.

He lives fairly close to me, and I walk by his place a lot. It's a pink two-story with about 400 lawn ornaments in the yard. He must either be a hell of a precision lawn-mower, or he must take them all down to mow the lawn, because his yard is always pristinely manicured (unlike the jungle we usually have forming at our place). His house seems like the happiest place in St. Paul.

There is a short documentary out about Carl,who I consider the best choice for an ambassador for my neighborhood, called "Mr. Positive".
Carl is awesome and I am glad he's my neighbor. Maybe I'll even add something sparkly to one of my bikes in his honor this spring.


McGone said...

Great post, WM.

One question though - in the article it says: "When the hospital closed, Carl was fortunate to become one of the 162 foster children of Vashti Risdall, one of Ramsey County's premier foster mothers."

Holy crap! What does it take to become THE premier foster mother? Another 100+ kids?

Whiskeymarie said...

I KNOW! Can you believe that?
My ovaries shrunk up even more after reading that.
Foster or not, that's a lot of freaking kids.
I'm pretty sure that she's been sainted by the Catholic Church.

gorillabuns said...

we have a three hat larry and four gloved john.

try as i might to be nice, they scare the shit out of me.

Stacey said...

1st off...yay for new WhiskeyMarie digs!
Now on to the matter at hand -
Unfortunately we don't have any Carl's in our neighborhood. Carl looks like quite a guy!
I'd take him anyday over my neighbor Tammy. Good lord that women's got a mouth on her (meaning it's continually running- I didn't think it was possible for anyone to talk more than I do) ...and if she asks me one more time what it's like to be in an interracial marriage I think I'm might stab her.

3carnations said...

Nice tribute. :) I think every neighborhood has a kind hearted older gentleman...

As a side note, my first word verification included an umlaut...Too bad my keyboard doesn't include one. What the heck?!?

Kate said...

My neighbors are a mixed bunch: a minister across the street, a teacher/banker couple next door, a Japanese family two houses down, some renters we haven't met yet kitty corner, and a trust fund baby/pot dealer to the north.

I wish my neighborhood had a Carl! What a sweet guy. I'm so glad the PP did an article on him... Now if they'd only do one on the beauty queen lady. I used to work on 4th & St Peter... Every morning, 7:45, somwhere in the vicinty of the Victory Ramp, I'd see her. I really want to know her story, and I also want to know the story of the 20-something guy with the afro who talks to himself and wanders around DT SP and carries a gray backpack.

Mair said...

AW! I love that! I want him to ride over to Maryland so we can chat about cars. But I'd worry about his safety on those nasty interstates.

Gwen said...

Maybe his infinite knowledge of cars spurs his penchant for his bike.

Thanks for the linkage. You rock. BTW, there is a present for you on my site.

Suze said...

What a very nice post. I have a stalker across the street. She's not positive at all. blah.

Sugar Kane said...

You live in the most awesome place ever. I totally dig that bike.

Stefanie said...

I think Carl's surly counterpart lives in Stillwater. Similar mode of transport, not nearly the same attitude.

Great post, WM. :-)

lizgwiz said...

I used to have a very...let's say "odd" friend who sometimes putted around town in a very similar mode. He mowed my lawn for me, and sometimes showed up to do it looking much like Carl does there. I don't know what my neighbors thought. He actually was incredibly smart, and a very good actor, he was just...odd. And if you asked him about his getup, he could explain how every detail was for some very specific and practical purpose. He moved away, and I miss him. The weirdo.

Nature Girl said...

The world needs more Carls in my opinion!

cmacc said...

We have a Carl but his name is Pyjama Dan. Doesn't say much.