Shot Nose Mike or The Park in The Bronx

Posted by By at April 19, 2009 Print

“I’m a smoker,” he says, “but the dog has a bad leg so I have to run with him” he pauses as he snorts his snot back into his runny nose. “Is your dog friendly?” He continues. “Very” I say as I reach down and pet his puppy German shepherd. “Oh yeah, I see he has a lazy hind paw” I say as the shepherd gives me a kiss. “Yes sir, you certainly are a handsome pup,” I add, kissing his dogs furry face. “I’m real careful” he lets me know. “Most dogs here in the Bronx are shit just like…” “People”, I finish his sentence. He smiles agreeing with me. The pup runs off, chasing nothing in particular, he runs just for the pure joy of running. Harley, my dog, runs after the pup. “He’ll be fine,” I say. “Dogs don’t know they’re handicapped. He has no idea that he has to overcome anything, that’s why he’ll be fine”.”I run a mile. I run around the track four times” he says. “It’s a quarter mile track, so four laps makes a mile”. He let me know in case I couldn’t do the math. “I run a mile in the morning and a mile at night so his foot gets stronger. He was the last one out…with the litter. All his other brothers and sisters came out before him. He was born a day later. He was in his mom an extra day…I think that’s why his foot is like that.” He pauses as we lovingly watch our dogs play and sniff each other.

I sneak a peak at this man, as he stares, with so much love, at his dog. He blurts out “I HAVE to run with him. He’s just the best thing.” Then, just keeps on talking.

“I work Construction… Luckily I’m working here in the Bronx, right on Tremont Avenue so it’s close to home. So I bring him with me. I tie him up to a pole on the site. I think he likes it”. He talks. His eyes fixed on his pup. Never making eye contact with me for more than a second.

“What’s the pups name” I say. “Buddy” he answers, not looking at me.

“I bring him home…” he continues. “…I have to leave him by himself for a few hours”. “My Dads in the hospital, so I go and spend time with my father. Things are a little…rough now”. He paused to watch his pup some more, maybe even hide his emotion from me.

Men from the Bronx don’t show sensitivity or love especially not to another man and even more so NOT to one they just met – in the PARK. We are not allowed to be intimate.

He then continued. “My neighbor said that Buddy cried for about an hour then he stopped. I guess that’s pretty good for an eleven week old pup”. I nod in agreement. Then, I started using words like sweet and adorable to describe his dog. “Yeah my girlfriend thinks so too”. He says, as he wipes his nose with his sleeve. “My girlfriend says the same things. He’s a dog, she says. He doesn’t know that he has a handicap”. I guess he had to tell me about his girlfriend. He had to let me know he had a girlfriend.

Men in the Bronx can’t talk to one another with out, somehow, letting the other know they are not gay. “Harley”, I scream out with a tough bravado. “Play nice or I’ll take you home, he’s only a pup”. I tried to be as -BRONX- as I could, letting this man know that I’m not gay and it’s “cool”. Resenting the fact that I had to play this game with him just so we, or should I say he, can have a conversation. Thinking that this simple man is threatened by me, a complete stranger. Who just happens to be walking his dog as well. He extends his hand to me. “Hi my name is Mike,” he says. “Norman” I say. I guess I convinced him. I’m a MAN just like him. “I’m having a problem with Buddy” he confides in me as we watch our dogs rolling in the snow together. “He’s not eating his food. So I started cooking…this guy on the construction site says his wife cooks chicken livers for their dog and mixes it in with the dog food. The dry kind. And their dog eats it. But Buddy, he picks out all the liver stuff, all the food I cooked, and doesn’t eat his dry food.” “Harley used to…” I tried to interject. But he didn’t realize that he didn’t care for my opinion. “It’s the funniest thing to watch Buddy do that,” he says as the snot shines under his nose. He rambles on with “I even tried putting chicken broth in his food. He ate it for a couple of days but then he stopped. I guess I’m gonna have to try something else.” He continued with his monologue as I watched our dogs play. Every know and then I would throw in a “yeah” or “sure” or “their just the best”.

He had a lot to say about his work, his father, how Vets don’t really know anything and how his dog is going to have all the strength back in it’s paws and how much love he had for this little dog that just came into his life.

I listened.

I don’t usually talk to people. So, I guess that makes me a…listener. I listen.

This man, who’s name is Mike. Works construction and visits his father in the hospital every night. Is sharing with me – many personal things. I don’t believe he is aware at how much he is telling me. I guess he needs to talk. All the time avoiding extended eye contact with me so I won’t assume anything. This man shared with me, his feelings about work, his feelings about people, his loving sister, his love for his niece, his Love for his Father, his Love for his Dog and how happy he is to have this eleven week old bundle of love in his life. And how he is going to do anything and everything to make this dog stronger and healthier.

He paused his diatribe and snorted back more of the snot dripping from his nose. We watch the dogs as they chase each other. “He’s gonna be just fine” Mike whispers under his breath and between snots. “Yeah” I snuck in. “He’s gonna be just great”. The puppy sits in the snow as Harley licks the shepherds’ ears. Mike stretches out his hand to me once more and says, “I’m sorry what’s your name again?” “Norman” I say as we shake hands for the second time. “I’m Mike” he reminds me just in case I forgot. He continues with “I’m terrible with names. My Brother in law-I don’t know how he does it- but he never forgets anyone’s name. Even if you met him for a second, he would remember. It’s like a gift he has…remembering names.” Snot spills over his lip and into his mouth. The puppy is lying down in the snow and Harley has moved on to pee on some trees.

“Buddy looks tired” Mike announces with out looking at me. “I’m gonna head home. Come on Buddy”. The puppy lazily gets up and lovingly follows his master. “Take care,” I said. He didn’t hear me, he couldn’t hear me, and he was already running off with the pup.

Had we been woman, even a couple a Bronx girls, we would have exchanged phone numbers, had already scheduled a play date and what time we should walk our dogs-together- and THEN hugged and kissed goodbye.

I whistled for Harley to come, but the tree was more important. So I loyally followed my master and peed on the same tree. As I stood there, peeing, the snow falling, I thought about Snot nose Mike. I didn’t really care to listen to him…I don’t even know if I liked him. But that didn’t matter…I think I have a soft spot for…well, for people who are not aware…aware that they need ‘something’. His need to talk was greater than my need to leave. He needed to tell me all that “stuff” that was inside him. I was not losing anything. All I had to do was Listen. The truth is-Instinctively I knew this man, Mike, would go home feeling good, happy, better. It doesn’t matter if he didn’t know why. I just happened to be THERE for him. And besides Harley was having a good time playing with the puppy. Had Monologue Mike, not been so self absorbed and allowed me to say…anything. I would have said, “I love my dog too”. I get happy when he is happy. Especially when he is running around playing and feeling good. Then I would have thanked him for letting Harley play with Buddy.

It seems that he and his dog are perfect for each other. Both have a handicap that neither is aware of. Although his handicap maybe more difficult to overcome. I pee and think…What would have happened if I was gay or just wanted to see his reaction and said, “My boyfriend would find your puppy so beautiful” or something like that. What a loss. Mike would have NEVER given himself a chance to talk and feel what he felt in the park with me. It’s too bad, I thought.

This man has no idea he has shared love with me. He was intimate. It’s to bad he wasn’t aware of his feelings or the fact that he was opening up to somebody. I was listening. He opened up to another man a strange man, me, and shared some of his life, his love for his father as well as his beautiful puppy -that he would die for. Perhaps on some level he knows. This tough construction worker with a runny nose, who lives in The Bronx, who’s father is in the hospital – who made sure to tell me he had a girlfriend – who was jogging in the park to help make his puppy stronger…Sure had a lot of love in him. LOVE, that he shared with another man.

One day I’m sure he’ll see it. I see it. So does Buddy. Maybe one day he may even be able to listen. I doubt it.


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