(Originally written: August 4, 2018)

There’s a park on my college campus (college I attend, not own) that I walk through to get to class. It doesn’t make my walk shorter but the park offers other perks. Those perks include trees that provide shade, a river to admire, and many people relaxing at the park. The people are a perk because you can watch them do things or watch them because they are very attractive. Their beauty is shown off even more due to the fact that most are wearing swimsuits, presumably because they plan to swim or tan. Or they’re dressed like that because they’ve got bodies worth showing off. I wish I could say the same.

My favorite person at the park, surprisingly enough, is not one of the many gorgeous swimmers and tanners. The thin, shirtless man with wrinkly skin and long white hair is my favorite. He is often found stretching in between the tightrope walkers (they tie a rope between two trees, thereby completely negating the dangerous fun of tightrope walking). Now before you think that the old man is my favorite because I have a perverse affection for the geriatric, let me tell you that that is definitely not the case. I have a healthy respect for the elderly but that respect does not translate to romance or lust. And definitely not both at the same time.

The reason he’s my favorite is because he does not give a damn what people think of him. After stretching and working out the kinks that accumulate from living for more than a handful of decades, the old man puts his feet shoulder-length apart and his hands on his waist. He broadens his shoulders, takes a deep breath, tilts his head back just a little, and lets loose a guttural scream. It rises from his wrinkly gut and fills the park with a confidence you could only find in a NFL locker room. The old man sounds like he is about to assault the people next to him with his liver spotted fists. But he’s really just screaming out a lifetime’s worth of frustration. I think. I’ve never actually spoken to him and asked him for the reasoning behind his one man, avant garde concert. Maybe he just likes screaming.

I don’t think anyone in the park has spoken to him. No one even visibly acknowledges him. They all go on with their activities without even turning their heads. Even I, his biggest fan, have never visibly acknowledged him. Does nobody care? Or are we all so intimidated by this confident Grandpa that we pretend we don’t notice him? I don’t know and I will probably never know. 

What I do know is that he wasn’t there today and I missed him. I really hope he’s still around and not screaming in St. Peter’s face.