Anyway, for a guy his age, who's been through what he's been through, she thinks he looks . . . not so bad. He's got some history to him, she'll say. You can see it around his eyes. It makes him interesting. He's "real"; not a phony bone in his body.
Oh, he exasperates her, for sure. But overall, she'll take the package. It's solid. And there are those moments, when he'll look at her a certain way, in a certain light and . . .
For the last few weeks, we on the Editorial Board have been listening to Philadelphians talk about Philadelphia as part of a project called Great Expectations: Citizen Voices on Philadelphia's Future, cosponsored by the University of Pennsylvania.
City residents and suburbanites are gathering in church basements, schools and community centers from Point Breeze to Frankford to compare notes on what they love about the city and what they don't; what works and what doesn't; how to strengthen what works, how to fix what doesn't.
The forums, the first step in a yearlong effort to write an Agenda for the Next Great City, run through the first week of February.
In the first week's forums, about 170 citizens attended events in Wynnefield, Fox Chase, West Philly and the Northeast. About 180 civic leaders took part in an earlier series of forums before Christmas.
Some themes are consistent: Most people find this city affordable and manageable. They savor its authentic neighborhood feel, its depth and variety of culture, history and things to do. They worry that its gap between haves and have-nots is widening, with no political will to address the trend. As a result, they're split down the middle over tax cuts and tax abatements. They're worried sick about the public schools, and aren't much impressed with reforms done so far. They have a love-hate relationship with SEPTA. They want someone to take better care of Fairmount Park. They see clearly that the flip side of neighborhood spirit is insularity and segregation.
Finally, they're sick to death of how their City Hall behaves, both in failing to deliver value for the tax dollar, and in falling prey to corruption.
Mary Tracy, a civic leader from Overbrook Farms, spoke for many when she said at one forum: "We just want our elected leaders to do what we elected them to do. Instead, they just pretend to listen to us and pass laws that sound good, but which they really have no intention of enforcing."
Philadelphians believe their city could be a lot better with better leadership. But they're not sure that those better leaders will be standing for election this year - or that they can win even if they do.
But they have plenty of good ideas, if anyone wants to listen, many of them small, but clever, useful and doable. For example:
Why doesn't SEPTA hook up with Mapquest, etc., so that when someone Googles directions to a city address, he also gets information on how to use mass transit to get there?
Why not create enclosed dog runs at more parks, both to create a friendly gathering spot, and to calm tensions over park usage?
Why not have public schools take kids on field trips to other schools in other neighborhoods, to create ties and break down barriers?
Why not hire an ombudsman separate from the mayor or Council to investigate citizen complaints about poor services or shady dealing?
More forums will be held this week: Tuesday, Klein Jewish Community Center, Northeast; Wednesday, the Fleisher Art Memorial, Bella Vista; Thursday, Sts. Neumann and Goretti High School, South Philly. All begin with registration at 6:30 p.m.
For more information and to register, go to http://go.philly.com/greatexpectations.