Neighbor Vincent

I have a new friend. He is five and a quarter years old and I know this because it is the first thing he told me about himself. Actually he piped it out in a deliciously squeaky Owen Meany-style voice across the small alley between our two buildings. In all the years I’ve lived in my apartment–20 come February–I’ve never known anyone who lived in that building. But Vincent–his name is the second fact that he piped across our shared alley–has decided we are going to be friends while we are stuck at home since our rear windows face each other. (It’s the window in my kitchen and the window to his bedroom, where he is “lots of boring time.”) Vincent is small even for a five-and-a-quarter year-old and wears neatly pressed polo shirts and a tennis ball haircut and has an oddly formal manner for a child of this century. We first began chatting one day as I was fixing lunch and immediately he insisted he learn my full name and I learn his. Then and only then did he proceed to tell me about his favorite hobby, which, of course, is wizardry. I have yet to tell Vincent I work as a real-life witch because I worry his voice will achieve decibels and octaves that will break all the window panes in both our buildings. Instead, I have told him about Grace, whom he told me sometimes “watches him in a spooky way.” When he said this, I nodded gravely–she is, after all, a witch’s familiar and thus (hilariously) spooky. In exchange Vincent regales me with tales about his new kitty-cat. Here is the second-best thing about Vincent: He named his new kitty-cat Kermit. Here is the first-best thing thing about Vincent: He keeps me company while I do the dishes, which we all know has become the most Sisyphean activity of them all. Sometimes Vincent even warbles a few songs. (He favors the Beatles, which is perfect because I always thought they were children’s performers at heart.) Vincent’s parents have decided to tolerate their child’s friendship with the cat lady across the way because we’re all adrift in this never-ending Norman Lear sitcom now. The big news of the week was the nest that two doves built on my fire escape. Vincent and I can’t stop talking about them because he thought he saw a few eggs and babies for our family is just what the doctor ordered. Vincent is what my mother once upon a time might have called a real pip. He’s a dreamboat of a neighbor is what I think.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy