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.

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