I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Ode to Scanner Dan

I miss a lot of things about Madison. The setting for example. As idyllic as a college town could be...The capitol building connected to Bascom Hall by 3/4 of a mile of State Street and Library Mall, and then 1/4 mile of Bascom Hill. The food...where else can one get Himalayan food next to a store that sells organic everything, next to ZTeca (I refuse to ever call it Qdoba).

One of the weird things I miss, and I never thought I would, is a person. An icky person. Scanner Dan Matheson. I found the above picture on Friendster, and it's shocking to me how he has not changed one iota from the first time I saw him. It was seven years ago, I was wandering down State Street, looking to buy a poster or sticky tack or a dry erase board for my door - anything to distract me from the fact that I was dropped in the middle of southern Wisconsin, without knowing a soul. Parked in front of Einstein's was Scanner.

And apparently, he's been there ever since, because in those pictures, he's in front of Espresso Royale, and on the bench in front of Einstein's.

Farting, snickering, yelling and pointing out Alphies, and muttering about how Merideth was going to have his baby.

At times he appears lucid, at times totally incoherent. Sometimes cleaner than normal, usually filthy. When he wasn't yelling in his gravelly, lisping voice if seen unaware, it always seemed like there was something more than met the eye- like he was just pretending to be nuts, and that he was actually capable of having an enlightened conversation about religion or politics or...the Greek system.

One night as I was walking home, I saw Scanner on a black 1950s bicycle with a headlight turned on, his green coat billowing behind him. It remains one of the weirdest things I've ever seen.

He seems content with his life. All the bagels he can eat, and a constant revolving door of college girls to talk to. He gets his laughs, he gets his attention, and he remains Madison's hometown bum.

I don't know when I'll be back to Mad-Town, but I'll know I've arrived when I hear the words "Meredith," "Alphies," and a loud Scanner fart.


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