Marvin isn’t an actor; he has never appeared in a movie. Yet his is a familiar face. His dark eyes are alert and curious. His eye brows are two brown wooly bears. His forehead is spanned by deeply etched lines, and lines surround his mouth, nose and eyes. His white hair is trimmed regularly, but otherwise neglected. And his cheeks and chin often sport a three-day growth. It is the familiar face of the old prospector leading his mule along the edge of the stream in a western. It is the face of the homeless but wise man on a steam grate in a Christmas movie. It is the face of the sage geezer in a romantic comedy.
Marvin, however, was a salesman, and his eyes once sized up potential customers. To help break the ice with the buyers, Marvin collected jokes, hundreds of them, most of corny, all of them harmless and not at all offensive.
“Vitamins are about the biggest thing going these days,” Marvin says. “They’re so popular. I don’t understand it, but everybody wants to be one.
“Get it? ... B1?”
I felt as if Marvin’s eyes were sizing me up last week. Wednesday evening, he knocked on my door. I yelled, “Come in,” and Marvin did. He seemed worried that I wasn’t feeling well and he kept asking how I was doing and did I have much pain. And he looked around the room again and again, his eyes darting from one corner to the next.
“Your apartment is set up like mine,” he said. “Is that the closet over there? Mind if I take a look?”
I didn’t mind, and he took a look. Then he looked in the bathroom and said his bathtub is a little different. My tub has a cutout, so I can get into it and onto my shower chair. Marvin said his tub is one he can get into and lay back and soak. Then he left, but he was back the next afternoon. It was a short visit. He asked if I knew what we were having for dinner that evening. I didn’t. But his eyes never stopped darting from the sink, to the table, to the chest of drawers, to the bed, to the table.
Marvin didn’t have anything to sell me. But if he ever gets a chance to peddle goods again, he now has an idea of what I might want and what I might need.
My birthday came and I reached three score and five without incident. The best part of getting a year older was the chance to spend time with Russ and Karen, who took me out for dinner Friday, and spending time with Jim and Susan, who came east from Birmingham and took me to lunch on Saturday.
The next best thing was the opportunity to talk to so many old friends from Ash/Craft. Nancy was the enabler, calling and letting all those who wished to speak to me. Thanks to Nancy, I talk to several of the consumers (we used to call the clients) on a weekly basis. But I hadn’t spoken with my former colleagues since coming south a year ago. It was good to hear all those voices again. It made me yearn for work. Really, it did.
The next best thing was roaming the halls of Covenant Woods and having someone come up to me and ask, “Tom, is it your birthday?”
“How old are you?”
“You don’t look that old.”
This happened several times. I suppose it is to be expected. No one asks you your age on your birthday and says, “Oh, gawd, is that all? You look so old,” when you tell them. Still, having six or seven people tell me I look younger than I am made me feel a little younger than I am.
I will soon be a grandfather again. The doctor removed the stitches from Bethany’s cervix Friday. Word is, Beth dilated to a two as soon as the stitches came out, and she and Ken stayed in Lewiston that night, just to be close to the hospital. But apparently nothing has happened yet. The waiting may explain why I’m up and writing at one-thirty Monday morning.
Otherwise, it was an uneventful week at Covenant Woods. I did get my taxes done, but there’s nothing exciting to report there.