Graham and I took what we’re calling a “pre-vacation” out to Charlottesville over the weekend. I was working on a blog post about it before we left the hotel Sunday morning, but the Wordpress app kept losing my paragraph breaks, which lead me to make the jump over to Jekyll. Anyway, that post is on hold at the moment, but I wanted to share with you a thing that happened when we got home.
When we walked up to the house I immediately noticed a black chair on my front porch. It’s a generic, rolling, foam-padded, armrest-less office chair, of the type you might find for cheap at Target or Wal-Mart. I have one just like it at my small radio desk.
My first thought was that someone had gone into my house while we were out of town and put it on the front porch, but after a little more thought, that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Closer inspection revealed it was not my chair, so I assumed it was a gift from The Drunk Man.
For my new readers, The Drunk Man is – as you might have guessed – the neighborhood drunk. He cuts our grass for $35. At night. Late at night. As in late enough to violate Richmond’s noise ordinances late. I once woke up to the sound of lawnmower well after midnight.
He always says to call him “Mr. C.” So, when he was around, that’s what we did. But my friends and I all know him simply as “The Drunk Man.” We always wondered what his real name is. Turns out, it’s Clarence. He has a lady friend, and another lady friend, and a different lawnmower every few weeks. He sometimes comes and sits on our porch for hours, drinking his Silver Bullets and yelling at people out in the street. He’s friendly, and harmless, always having a good time. We like Clarence.
I saw him Monday night and he asked if I liked his chair. I told him we have one just like it, and I was wondering who took it out my house. “Well it won’t me!” I hope he knew I wasn’t accusing him of something. My chair was right where I left it.
I went outside to find him when I noticed a lawnmower running. There was a new-ish looking push mower running unattended in my front yard. I saw Clarence up at the corner, headed to the convenience store with his cooler. For someone as persistently strapped for cash as he is, it’s baffling why he starts the lawnmower and lets it run for an hour while he goes and does other things. But live your life.
I mostly wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to try to cut the grass again. It didn’t need it. When he came back he assured me (wink, wink) that he wasn’t going to cut it, and he was just testing his new lawnmower. He’s currently storing it in my back yard, behind the trash cans. It’s a thing that he does. He stored a hedge trimmer in my trash can for almost a week.
Clarence brought me a drink Monday night. It was a bottle of Jumex Guava Nectar. He wanted me to open it up and drink it out on the front porch while he had a few beers and enjoyed the pleasant weather. I didn’t know what the hell guava nectar is, but it excited Graham, so he was happy to drink it. I did try it, but didn’t care for it.
Anyway, Clarence and I hung out on the front porch and talked a bit, and I think he was out there for another hour or two after I came in. Tonight he dropped by again just to chat, and to borrow $20. It’s another thing that he does. He’ll come by, knock on the door, beer in hand, chat for a few minutes, then get real quiet and awkwardly tell a story about why he needs $5 or $10 or whatever, and how he’ll pay it back in however many days. He never does, but we just take it out the cost of the next grass-cutting and all is well.
He’s learning to play golf, he claims. He’s been carrying around a golf club the last few times I’ve seen him. I can’t imagine this scraggly, nearly-incoherent, drunken fool would be allowed anywhere near a golf course, but he seems to be having fun with it. I think I know where the golf balls in my back yard have been coming from.
Tonight I didn’t feel like digging for small bills so I grabbed a $20 and sent him on his way. There is nothing quite like his excitement when he picks up his cooler and his golf club, $20 bill in hand, and heads back to the convenience store for more beer and cigarettes.
We like Clarence.