I stood outside Other-Syd’s building, scanning the buzzers for her name. I had her Pyrex plate and a container of turducken soup. Django hadn’t figured out why we’d stopped and was tugging to sniff something on the parkway. Before I could ring the bell, a white-haired man came halfway out the door and smiled at me. I smiled back, stepping aside to give him room to get out.
He remained in the doorway, holding the door open. The entryway was only large enough for one person, maybe two. Definitely not two people and a dog. Plus, I was pretty sure it was a no-dog building. “Oh, I’m just dropping this off for someone,” I said.
The man continued smiling, holding the door. Was he going in or coming out? I waited, but he didn’t move. I decided to ignore him and again scanned the list of names. The man leaned in slightly. “Other-Syd,” I told him, as I spotted it. He seemed to approve of my choice, if his eyebrows were any indication.
I rang the buzzer. Django had noticed the half-open door and was now trying to step past the man into the foyer. “No, Django, we’re not going in,” I said, pulling her away.
The man looked at the row of buzzers. Each bore the tenant’s full name, in shiny, white on black laminated labels. No scotch-taped slips of paper or masking-tape additions here. He seemed to be watching for the return buzz, but instead Other-Syd came down and opened the inside door. There wasn’t room for her to step into the foyer, so she stopped at the bottom of the stairs. “You brought me something!” she said.
I held out my bag and the man moved back slightly behind the door, to make room. “Your stuffing was so yummy, it inspired me to make turkey soup,” I said. “Actually it’s turducken soup.”
There was just enough room for Other-Syd to step forward and take the bag. “Thank you,” she said. “This is Ted, my landlord.” Ted’s broad smile and expressive eyebrows were joined by a nod.
“Hi, Ted,” I said. The three of us paused in a cozy moment of weirdness. I was extra glad I hadn’t let Django take even one step inside. “Well, we were just on our way to the park, so…” I turned to leave.
Ted stepped back around the door. “Nice to meet you,” he said.
“Nice to meet you, Ted,” I said.
“Thanks again,” called Other-Syd from the stairwell.
We continued on to the park. Presumably Other-Syd made it back upstairs, because I got a message later that she loved the soup. As for Ted? I have the feeling that if I walked past there right now, he’d be standing still, half-inside and half-outside his own doorway, flanked by his P-Touch handiwork, waiting.