Over the weeks, my wife Mary has learned a bit about the new neighborhood, particularly which streets would make for a leisurely dog walk. One of these routes takes us down “Pond View Road”, a short P-shaped spur just off of the main road and not far from our own little cul-de-sac. These are neat little Cape Cod cottages, most of them seasonal, and many of them unoccupied during the week. A glaring exception was a big, well-kept house on a corner lot, featuring a barn-sized garage with a giant, can’t-miss sign reading “OH MY COD”.
It was inevitable that we would meet the man behind the sign. We saw him gesturing to kids across the street, who paid no attention to him. Then he spotted the two of us walking toward him with our dog, and he stopped forward to get a good look.
“Rat Terrier”, he said, a frequent guess.
My wife and I looked at one another to see who would answer first. “He’s half Australian Cattle Dog, half American Eskimo Dog.”
“A mutt,” I added.
The man introduced himself only as “Kelly”, an 80 year-old former marine and veteran of Consolidated Edison, the New York City utility company. He retired to Centerville 36 years ago after a heart attack forced him into early retirement. He was wearing a shabby t-shirt that suggested that he was working around the yard, and it quickly became clear that this was all part of his shtick: clip a few shrubs and then engage the unsuspecting passers-by.
We learned quite a bit about him in a brief amount of time. Born in the Bronx but raised in Queens. Didn’t think much of the President, who came from the same borough. Yankee fan. Rescued a neglected Great Dane years back, and now had a Weimaraner, who would could hear bellowing in the background. That was our cue. “We should get going. We’ll be seeing you around, Mr. Kelly”.
Predictably, he muttered “Mr. Kelly?” and gestured dismissively. We could tell another story was coming on, but chose to save it for another day. We’ll be seeing him around.