my downstairs neighbor is an older sicilian american, originally from the town of pozzallo.
quite irascible, he is often seen shuffling around the building in his white wife-beater tank top, white shorts, and slippers.
a paranoid man who seems to bear a grievance for everyone in the neighborhood, he has a tendency to employ unusual expressions and pseudo-proverbs, such as “why keep the light on at night, it’s not like the cat’s going to give birth.”
i often don’t know how to respond to utterances like that.
while we don’t share a similar sense of humor, i do enjoy my encounters with him, such as this one:
i happened to see him sitting on a bench near the café which i was entering.
i greeted him, taking note that he wore a dress-shirt and slacks.
“what, are you tired?” he said to me.
“i need a little pick me up. it’s better than taking a nap.”
“i can’t take naps no more.”
“that’s too bad.”
“yeah, i used to be able to, but no more.”
“maybe you having something on your mind?” i suggested, “is there something bothering you?”
he raised his hand, pinching his fingers, then testily retorted, “you see, there you go!”
his voice quivered with barely-repressed rage, “i’ve got a clear conscience. only the guilty have trouble have sleeping.”