Standing on the west side of the avenue upon which I live, there is an older gentleman who is perpetually smoking a cigarette. It does not matter what time of day or what type of weather – he is ALWAYS there. And he is also always standing just barely in the street. Not so far that you have to swerve around him, but close enough where you think you might clip him. I have not met this man, but here is the conversation we had on the side of my street.

ME: Nice day huh?

SMOKER: No nicer then any other day. Every day is about the same. Adequate.

ME: It’s good to have a steady outlook like that. What’s that they say? “Keep your expectations low and you will never be disappointed.”

SMOKER: Never disappointed. Always disappointed. No difference.

ME: I live just down the street. Don’t know if you’ve ever noticed me. But I have noticed that you are out here a lot.

SMOKER: That is a true statement.

ME: I always see you out here smoking is what I’m saying. And I was curious as to how many cigarettes you smoke in a day.

SMOKER: Just the one.

ME: You’re out here like 24 hours a day. You’re telling me you only smoke one cigarette.

SMOKER: 22 hours. And yes.

ME: Is that humanly possibly?

SMOKER: I light it once every hour. Take a puff. Extinguish the flame. Hold the smoke in my mouth for 45 minutes or so. Exhale. Wait 15 minutes. Then repeat.

ME: Why on earth would you do that?

SMOKER: Got to think about my health. Don’t want to be getting lung cancer now do I.

ME: That is a tremendous amount of restraint. I am thoroughly impressed sir.

SMOKER: Not as impressive as killing a man with your bare hands.

ME: Interesting response.

SMOKER: Interesting is the most useless word in the English language. Second most useless word in Korean.

ME: Were you in Korea? The war I mean.

SMOKER: I have not killed a man with my bare hands if that is what you are asking. I am not impressive in that respect.

ME: That is not what I was asking. I was just curious because you seem about the right age of a veteran and you mentioned the Korean language.

SMOKER: I once loved a Korean woman very passionately. We did not understand what each other said. But we understood what we felt.

ME: That’s very beautiful. Poetic.

SMOKER: Poetry is for greeting cards and pricks with typewriters.

ME: Well I would call that right there poetry. But I would not put it in a greeting card.

SMOKER: You know I can see you when you shower.

ME: There is no window in my bathroom.

SMOKER: X-ray glasses are real.



Sometimes on my way to work I cut down Robertson Blvd to get from Santa Monica to Olympic. This is an area of high-end boutiques, restaurants, and salons. One morning, standing outside one of these yet to open establishments, was a man dancing in front of his boombox. The boombox was blaring some Van Halen circa 1984, and the gentleman was dressed appropriately in David Lee Roth style tights and a headband. I did not meet this man, but this is the conversation we had on Robertson Blvd.

DANCER: (singing) Might as well jump. JUMP!

ME: Van Halen. Nice. I know people say that David Lee Roth is far superior to Sammy Hagar. But to be completely honest – I don’t mind the red rocker at all. I think he gets a bad rap.

DANCER: Who’s Sammy Hagar?

ME: You know. The guy that took over as lead singer after David Lee Roth left the band.

DANCER: That never happened.

ME: Oh. You never heard about that? It was like 20 years ago. Or do you mean you just deny that it ever happened because you are such a Roth fan? You don’t want to acknowledge that the band even existed after that?

DANCER: (singing) Got it bad. Got it bad. Got it bad.

ME: Right. Nice boombox by the way. Is that a cassette player? Can you still get cassettes any more? Remember cassingles?

DANCER: Can I help you with something? I need to start practicing my high leg kicks.

ME: You better stretch out before you do those. Don’t want to pull anything. The groin muscle is a very sensitive thing.

DANCER: Thanks. I stretched earlier. Plus the tights help to hold it all together.

ME: Don’t you feel kind of exposed in them though? Like it’s all out there for everyone to see.

DANCER: Maybe you’re just too self conscious.

ME: Oh I definitely am. I used to wrestle in high school and we had to where these spandex one piece outfits called singlets. Many times I considered the aid of a sock. If you know what I mean.

DANCER: I do know what you mean. And no I don’t stuff.

ME: See I wasn’t even implying or looking. Although now I feel compelled to look at your crotch. That’s a weird feeling. Not completely unnatural. Just weird.

DANCER: (singing) Runnin’ with the devil!

ME: I like the headband. Sometimes I wear a bandana when I work out. Keeps the hair and sweat out of my face. I go with black. I have a red and blue ones but I fear gang violence.

DANCER: Do you wear it over the whole head or as a headband or backwards like Tupac?

ME: Headband. I’ve done the Tupac thing in the past. Usually gets a good laugh.

DANCER: I can see that.

ME: Alright then. I’ll let you get back to it. Rock and/or roll.