He gingerly makes his way slowly down the footpath on two crutches. He is on his way to the mall, the center that is the hub of my part of town, where we shop and socialize.
He looks to be around 70, and seems spry in spite of the slow two-crutched walk. He is tall and skinny.
He walks to the mall every day around 5 pm. I walk home from it, often at that time, and so I pass him. Sometimes just as I come out of the mall, sometimes as I near my apartment. We walk the same path, so we meet.
I don’t know him, but I’ve noticed that he’s grown a mustache over the summer. I’ve noticed that we keep meeting, just the two of us. And because I think he looks nice, and he obviously lives in my neighborhood, and we keep meeting like this, I feel it is time we start saying hello as we pass.
I try a careful smile, one Leonardo da Vinci could paint, well aware that women should not be smiling at male strangers. His blue eyes meet mine, but he doesn’t smile back. Rather, he looks startled. My little smile quickly fades.
Still, I do this again every time I meet him. His startled look is getting less startled each time.
Today it is raining and to my relief, he has a hooded jacket on. The last time I saw him, on Friday, he was not covered up in the rain.
I do my Mona Lisa impersonation. He responds with one of his own today. My smile then becomes a proper wide one.
I hope he liked it.