Tuesday, March 14, 2006

People I've Known: Sidney

This is Sidney. I knew him in my Charlottesville where he would spend his days sitting on the benches of the downtown mall or sipping Cokes at Miller's, my late-adolescent, proto-hipster hangout (and at-that-time employer of Dave Matthews - yeah, yeah, get me some coffee, fame-boy). He was stooped, had a severe underbite, and was a little slow (I originally thought this was just because he was old but eventually realized it had been a life-long state of affairs). He would happily talk to anybody who talked to him.

For many years, he was just a familiar face, but I finally got to know him well during the summer Sarah and I lived in town. He was very impressed with my bus, and every time I saw him he would ask me in his strange, slow, underbitten Virginia-drawl, "Hey, David. When you and me gonna go for a ride?" stretching out the last word to three times its normal length (after hearing his many repetitions, it has also found its way into my bag of tics, though I do my best to restrain it). For a long time I put him off, "Sure, Sidney. Soon." I had the best of intentions, but somehow, giving a weird old man a ride around town kept slipping down my to-do list.

Finally, the end of summer approached, and I relented. "Okay, Sidney. Let's go." He slowly climbed in and sat, hunched low in the passenger seat. As we loudly puttered down the street, he stared out the window, not saying a word, with an inscrutable expression on his face.

For several years afterwards, I'd see him when I came to town, although I don't think he remembered me. And then, after a while, he wasn't around anymore.


  1. wow -- i'm left with a profound feeling of sadness. that's twisted of me, i know, because life goes on, people have their own paths to walk, blah blah, but still...

  2. I should add that Sidney did have a large group of people looking out for him, making sure he was okay, and buying him Cokes. He was good company and people enjoyed talking to him. Given the circumstances, I think he did alright.