just as you were starting to say something apropos

October 20, 2009

Someone had seen a drawing of a swastika he left on the table and people were getting worried, as if a swastika had any relevance in their daily homeless American lives. They pointed fingers at the small man who always wore long scraggly hair, dark sunglasses, a peace shirt, and a knit red sweater. Maybe Bob Dylan neglected in abstractions for thirty years. Cheech and chong, his therapist said.

I went to find him, interested in how his jumbled words would explain his jumbled drawings, and also embarking on an investigation of the things that make people afraid. He sat calmly in a sun-illumined chair and told me nicely to come in.

I asked him if he liked to draw. “Of course,” he said. “I plan on doing some drawing later today.” And he opened his drawer to reveal a pile of index cards all filled with the same collection of symbols, swastika included. “Can you tell me about your drawings?” I asked. The Babysitter’s Club taught me that’s what you should say when a child proudly presents you with a creation you can’t decipher.

“It’s the ten commandments,” he said. I asked him to explain each symbol to me. He pointed at the first, a stick-table with arrows drawn around it, and acted like he was reading words on the symbol: “Hail Mary full of grace the lord is my shepherd I shall not want you shall have no other gods before me amazing grace how sweet the sound.”

When he had gone through all ten of his symbols in mixed words from scripture, songs, and catachisms, he paused and looked at me. “Looks like you got an earring in your nose. It doesn’t seem very apropos.”

Unexpected words from a such seemingly free-flowing man. First surprising that he considered it not apropos and second that he used the word apropos, something I never before found in regular conversation but was glad I now had.

“You like that one? Put it in your dictionary,” and with that he lifted his hands to mimic playing a violin and started humming amazing grace.

“Amazing grace?” I asked.

“I sing for my supper. It’s the ten commandments. “


One Response to “just as you were starting to say something apropos”

  1. ericajadelynn said

    update this thing, dang it. broken computers are no excuse.

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