As we pulled into a parking space at Safeway, I noticed that the driver of the car next to us was a man we see in the neighborhood regularly. I smiled and Flip said "hi" as we passed him but he didn't acknowledge us. He never does. He inhabits his own world which seems to have nobody in it but himself. It is not unusual to see him walking with his characteristic bent over but manic gait, gesticulating wildly as he talks loudly to himself while riffling the newspaper vending machines. Trust me, there is no cell phone in the mix.
"If that guy has a license and I don't..." said Flip. I knew where this was going. We assume that Flip's driver's license was revoked when his doctor reported his condition to the DMV. "Maybe they don't know about him," he said.
But I do. And knowing that Froot Loop is on the road does not add to my sense of security.
I glanced back at the other car, a decrepit Edsel station wagon that looks haunted. Our friend was conversing with aliens. Later, I got in line at the check stand behind him. He was eating a handful of cookies from the bakery. The cashier looked at the crumpled wax paper he showed her and said, "Cookies?" He didn't respond. "How many were there?" she asked. He stared fixedly out the window at the parking lot. She rang up something and he extracted a withered bill from his sock and silently handed it to her. Apparently, he only speaks to invisible people.
A few months ago, he sported an impressive shiner on his right eye. One can only guess whom he offended. It didn't slow him down. I saw him rush into a launderette and methodically open every machine and bang it shut, arguing with himself the whole time. At least arguing with oneself assures that you always win.
Last year, his foot was in a cast and then a surgical boot, the kind orthopedists issue when something is badly sprained or broken. I asked him if he was ok as he whipped by me on the sidewalk, pantomiming wildly, even though I knew he wouldn't answer. (I'm an optimist.)
Flip has decided to zoom around making chimpanzee gestures and talking to himself so the DMV will give him his license back. Stay tuned.