As i quick-stepped down Sydney Street, eyeing the back of Joe as he speed ahead, darting and weaving along the sidewalk, I was suddenly brought to a halt as a battered old fiat beelined towards me.
Bumping into the curb as he put his breaks on, the aging gentleman with thin streaks of grey hair vertically lined across the top of his head, lent across the passenger street and rolled down the window.
Regain my balance and composure after thinking I was about to be mowed down, I adjusted my demeanour to that of helpful citizen prepared to dish out potentially incorrect directions to a fellow citizen in need… I’d only moved here a week ago after all….
“Hellooooo” came the dulcet tones. “How are you?” Taken aback, slightly suprised by this warm greeting, maybe he thought I was someone else. I suddenly thought about Joe. Where was he? I looked down the street and breathed a second sigh of relief. He was crouch down, examining a snail on the sidewalk. I called to him, and he nonchalantly looked up, acknowledged my presence, before turning back to poking the snail with a blade of grass.
I turned my attention to the gentleman who was at this point struggling with a plastic back under the passenger seat, then he presented a plastic container of cinnamon buns. “Would you like one?” he offered with a broad smile. “Oh!” I said, confused…”No thank you, I’m fine” I responded in my best politely rejecting voice.
“What’s your name?” he continued, as if oblivious to my bemused look. “They’re fresh! I just got them. What’s a lovely young lady like you doing wandering the streets. Would you like a drink. It’s very hot isnt it. Such lovely weather. where are you from? are you Swedish?”
He leapt out and came around the front of the car, appearing quite agile for the age I had projected onto him. Leaning back in through the open window he picked up the container of cinnamon buns and turned to re-offer them too me.
As if my peripheral vision no longer worked, I felt pinned between the car and the hedge behind me. How on earth could I politely extract myself from the flattering attentions of this bizarre man, with a smile stretched across his face and his humble offering to break bread together!
“Joe!” I shouted, this time getting a more sustained level of attention.. “I’m coming…. I’m very sorry, sir (i said deferentially) but i must go. I need to get my son home.”
“oh your son. How charming. what a lovely lad… would he like a cinnamon bun?”
“no but thank you kindly, we really need to get going”
9 months later …
“Joe, pay attention. Come on, we’re late …who has right of way on the side walk?” I barked as we cycled to school. “Pedestrians” came the exaggerated melodic response “Correct. cycle carefully… dont knock in to ……” I looked at the couple leaning against the wall of the corner patisserie. The man stood with his leg cocked in cavalier pose, as his hand positioned just above her shoulder balancing him. His smile, ear to ear, was interjected with words in a strong italian accent. The lady had a blushing and entertained look on her face. He then took her by the hand and started to shimmy a two-step and then raised his hand to give her a twirl. Bread stick and paper bag of pastries in hand, she laughingly obliged.
Our Chelsea Romeo strikes again!