Monday, September 24, 2007

GORDY UPDATE: neighborly observation.

One of the most surprising things about bringing a dog into our lives was the simultaneous sense of community showered down upon us. Regardless of the fact we've been living in this apartment for 4.5 years we have been welcomed to the neighborhood almost daily. We've received constant advice, a random gift or two, invites to BBQs, and endless insight into Greenpoint lore and gossip.

One of the more memorable characters that Gordy has brought into our lives is the often times topless symbol of geriatric masculinity we like to call The Freest Man in America. This guy lives by his own rules on an empty lot on Franklin Street -possibly in the skeletal remains of an old truck, possibly in a tent that the naked eye cannot see through the bramble. One night he'll be doing pull ups on his fence, the next night snuggling up on the curb with a good book and a magnifying glass underneath the street lamp. Oh, and he has pets. Two of the gnarliest dogs I have ever seen. And when he walks them they are roped to eachother and not to him and follow him around with nothing shy of obedient adoration. We are, in a word, obsessed.

The other day Gordy and I were walking along and, in a moment of weakness, I gave into his ceaseless demands to cross the street at all possible opportunities. We happened upon The Freest Man in America and he was having himself a little snack on his makeshift table. Usually I sort of just meander past, trying to seem innocently unaware of either him or his surly dogs but this time Gordy trotted right over to him and was greeted with a pleasant little grunt. Within two seconds Gordy is being offered a mysterious morsel and through raspy, broken English I am informed it's cheese. Uh...Okay! And then I said thanks (what else can you do?) and approximately a half a pound more was cut for him and quickly consumed in one quick swallow. I walked away feeling both smug and a little funny inside.

Yesterday on our morning walk I saw The Freest Man in America from across the street looking surprisingly up and at 'em and even more surprisingly... with a woman. It quickly became obvious she was a photographer and our new friend was clearly the willing subject decked out in little more than tighty whities with a knife in his hand, no doubt offering her the same sense of hospitality he has bestowed my young pup.

But tonight was like Christmas in September as a very unexpected sighting occurred just around midnight. For the first time ever, I witnessed The Freest Man in America not in his lair but on Calyer Street, in a sweatshirt and jeans, and in case you wanna know, hauling behind him - on a rope! - what seemed to be a small, heavy basket. I quickened my pace only to round the corner and see that he had disappeared. Gordy seemed to have the same idea I had and was frantically prancing down the street seeking out a repeat of the other night. He eventually resurfaced in front of his little shanty village (how did he get there so fast?!) and was laying out newspaper. It is soon apparent that he has been doing a little digging in the trash and was getting ready to display his treasures for his canine companions to see. They were, of course, psyched. And I guess what I am getting at here is the stark realization that that Gordy's cheese treat probably came from someone else's dumpster.

And I am pretty much forced to be okay with that.

Next up, our close encounters with Gordy's other friend/drinking buddy, a crotchety old drunk we simply call The Phantom. Have I mentioned how much I love this neighborhood?

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