Cheerleader: POSITION FILLED
There's a rogue cheerleader in my neighbourhood and he's chosen me as his cause. I'm not sure whether I deserve unbridled enthusiasm for every public move I make, but I can't say it isn't nice.
He's short, he's pot-bellied, he's undergone years of psychotherapy because, he said, his parents abandoned him with his unstable aunt and her 28 cats, but this grey-haired, middle-aged bookseller's got a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that I really can't knock. Maybe it's that he thinks I'm amazing – a most charming quality in a man.
Natural processes brought us together, feces actually, when the puppy I fostered for a month chose a tiny grassy patch adjacent to his semi-basement locale as THE place to go. I was happy to not have her going in my apartment anymore – outdoor shame and ridicule win over indoor retching – but I was mortified, daily, when the puppy shat in front of the bookseller's only window, and his face would fatefully appear, level with the puppy's unsightly contribution, to meet my apologetic cringe of a smile with an ever-cheerful double thumbs-up.
As early as that, I began to realize I could do no wrong.
Soon, he'd recruited more adoring fans for me – literati and drunks, and drunken literati – and from his stoop, within earshot, they'd halt chess matches to recount tales of my selflessness, undying patience and deep understanding of the human-animal bond, all of which was clearly a farce. But who am I to interrupt a good story?
The dark circles under my eyes and mussed hair, evidence of the learning curve involved in incorporating a 3-month-old puppy into my urban singleton, nighthawk existence only served to accentuate the mysterious beauty of my Eastern European eyes, or so he declared one day after I excused myself for being particularly unkempt. I could deal with that, I thought.
Since the puppy left, he's found other cheer material, namely my [arguable] sense of style, contagious smile, strength of character, independent nature and, his current favourite, my work-out habits and skin-tight attire.
"I can see those cookies falling off you," he said just yesterday, the third consecutive day he's said that to me. It's my fault for telling him my mom fed me 5 lbs of sweets while visiting her back home. I wasn't speaking literally, but saying it has apparently given him permission enough to check me out, head-to-toe, every time I pass by. "I think you look great," he says religiously, leaning round to assess my behind, "Really, really, really, really great."
While this level of praise is unwarranted and entirely unsolicited, I can't say I haven't encouraged him. I've answered all his questions about my personal life, accepted books as gifts, and will sometimes pause to allow him a few uninterrupted moments to freely adore me and offer advice about never settling for anything but the very best, because that's what incredible women like me deserve.
Nevermind that he's serving me a crock of feces like that which I delivered thrice daily to the grassy patch near his window, or that he's got my name completely wrong, I'm getting the sweet end of this deal. I won't correct him, because I'd really hate to rain on his parade – particularly since that parade is especially for me.