Richie’s talking Ragtime (again)

It’s Sunday morning and I’m on the train into Boston. The sky is overcast and I’m listening to a Nicky Holland CD; a decent selection for a dismal day like today. My real motivation for listening to a CD is if only to buffer the sound of voices around me, mainly Teddie’s. Teddie’s an old eccentric man that rides this train every Sunday. The cheese fell of his cracker long ago and he’s harder to figure out than Chinese arithmetic. He talks to the air surrounding him, unaware of the stares from freaked out passengers. And, he’s REALLY LOUD. He sports a white/gray haired buzz-cut and has a ruddy complexion that makes him look ten years older than he probably is. His constant chitchatter reminds me of a character that Jon Lovitz made popular years ago on SNL: the Liar.
Teddie drives the conductors on the train bonkers because he’s forever changing seats and screwing up their count. He’s in a state of perpetual motion, an uncontrollable child badly in need of some high octane Ritalin. I wonder if he has family, anyone that possibly loves and cares about him. He must, right? Most of us take the people in ours lives for granted because they’re always there, unchanging. He just moved again- one seat closer to me. Teddie is for the most part innocuous and innocent but way on the other side of normal. He’s the perfect candidate for my ever expanding “box of rain”, my personal collection of the many strange characters that cross my path these days. His mouth is moving, spilling forth words that don’t seem to fit together properly. Maybe he goes to Boston to somehow fit in. People of his ilk litter the city streets more than the thousands of tossed Starbuck’s coffee cups. He has the chance to fit into this societal mosaic of a city that’s mainly unaware and unfazed by his presence. As Nicky Holland continues to sink into my idle brain, I watch Teddie continue his inner game of musical chairs. He zig-zags his way from side to side, seat to seat, never resting long enough to make sense out of the mad world rushing by the train window. The city will soon open her arms wide if only to embrace a Teddie that only she can know…

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