The Soupster talks and listens.
I was cornered! I had to be quick. I grabbed my books and papers and scurried out of my cozy winter spot in the library. The new glass walls made it hard to be invisible.
Talking Joe was heading straight towards me. Joe was long and lanky and words spewed out of him like a manic fountain pen. Like a lot of Our Towners this time of year, he hunted down people to visit with.
An interesting man, Talking Joe. Curious and self-educated, he looked at old things in new ways and gave you ideas to mull over for days. He often sounded like the speculative science talks on the radio.
“Hi, Soupster!” Joe hailed just when I thought I was in the clear. “Soupster, have you ever noticed – Our Town is yellow?”
“Yellow? Do you mean faint of heart? Scared? Cowardly?”
No, no, Soupster. Just yellow. Well, maybe orangey-red, but it looks like a big ‘ole pumpkin patch.”
“How so, Joe?”
“Well, Soupster. It runs the gamut from burnt umber to the palest yellow to rooftop red.”
“Burnt umber? What is that, Joe?”
“Umber, I’ve read, is a natural brown earth pigment with oxides. When heated, the color becomes more intense and is called burnt umber.”
“And then, Soupster, have you noticed we have miles and miles of yellow ‘No Parking’ curbs? How do they pick these colors? Do they discuss them at assembly or is it just the paint on sale that month?”
“I don’t know, Joe, maybe folks are just seeking brightness. In deep winter here, the forests, mountains and oceans are mostly black, topped by dark gray clouds. Maybe people are trying to add an artificial sun to the landscape.”
“Yeah, Soupster, we all need variety – for example, I have to admit St. Michael’s Cathedral is the little non-pumpkin jewel of downtown.”
“Good things to think about, Joe. Anything else on your mind today?” I asked as I strolled toward the silent sanctuary of my truck.
“Oh, all kinds of things. Like why are the streets so quiet at night? I hardly ever hear anyone cussing or yelling anymore. Maybe it’s too cold to make noise.”
Joe seemed more lonesome than usual today. Ever since his wife passed, he’s been trying to reconnect with friends and neighbors. She was definitely the social glue of the pair. Things got even harder for Joe when his card-playing buddy Ralph moved south to be near grandkids. Talking Joe needed a listener now more than ever.
Sometimes, we all just need to shut up and listen better, and maybe the season will seem kinder and warmer.
“Okay, Joe, see you around,” I said as I started my engine.
“I was wondering – why does our town have so many flat roofs? Just asking,” I heard him say.
I pulled away from the yellow curb, slowed down and called back, “Get in the truck, Joe, and tell me what you think about the flat roofs.”
Submitted by Rose Manning
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