3 hours ago
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Nice Day For That Sort Of Thing
The man looked both professorial and a bit shabby. He walked like a slow-motion speed skater --big, splayed-leg strides, slightly hunched, his hands clasped behind his back.
"Got to stay loose and keep the juices jangling," he said. "Nice day for that sort of thing."
I remarked that the only previous usage I'd ever heard of the phrase "keep the juices jangling" came from Satchel Paige.
"Of course, of course," the man said, nodding his head emphatically.
I hadn't seen this man around the neighborhood before. He sounded like a man who sat beside God's bed and read Him stories to help Him sleep. I've honestly never heard such a voice, and would use the word "mellifluous" to describe it if that word didn't remind me of an entirely bogus high school English teacher with a ponytail. Now this, the man said, reaching down to scratch my dog's ears, is a fellow who has clearly done the Lord's work. His magnificent skull and the wonders it contains are purest perfection.
We chatted for quite some time, and every sentence he uttered seemed like a bright ribbon embroidered with words and slowly unfurling from his mouth and drifting away on the wind. I don't, unfortunately, remember much else he said, so dazzled was I by his voice, but every word seemed beautifully shaped and carefully chosen.
I didn't want to leave him. I should have invited him to my home and asked him to speak into a tape recorder, to intone a message of love and thanksgiving to my friends and family, something I could hide away for them to find after I am dead.
I did, though, eventually go on my plodding way. And I thought: wouldn't it be nice to have even a few of that man's lovely sentences in a jar of formaldehyde on my bedstand? Even now I am thinking about that idea, that image of those words floating beside me, undulating slowly like a school of languid, lullabying, glow-in-the-dark fish and keeping me company through the night.