Recently, there was a tapping at the front door. We’ve got a glass door, so I could easily see who was there: a somewhat unkempt middle-aged man in a blue thrift-store nylon parka and beige house slippers, who nonetheless carried himself with some pride and authority. He politely stood back as I opened the door and exuded no menace.
As I expected him to start into a story that would culminate in a need for money, he instead said: “Is the lady of the house available?” I replied that no, she was actually not home. He calmly thanked me and turned to go, and I ventured one more question, utterly out of curiosity: “Can I give her a message?” I said. His eyes lit up as he stopped and looked back at me: “A message?” he said, implying that perhaps I had one for him. So I reiterated: “Would you like to leave a message for her?” And he said: “Yes! Ask her to please come home.“
I didn’t want to burst the guy’s bubble, but I decided to clarify and told him that, interestingly enough, she was my wife, and this was, in fact, her home. After which, he promptly thanked me and walked on down the sidewalk, with gusto.
A little while later, I saw him knocking on the front doors of other houses on my street, only now palming a gold spraypainted styrofoam globe in each hand. And then after about an hour he knocked on my door and we had nearly the same conversation again.
I didn’t feel like calling the police. The man — clearly schizophrenic — seemed calm and rather happy. It was a sunny, mild Winter day, he was reasonably clothed, and he was looking for somebody to come home. No problem, that I could see.