Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Way Things Go

Today was the first day of the year that I worried about whether my deodorant was working or not, so I went to the coffee shop to get a gelato. I never get a gelato. I passed the "Order Here" sign to consider the flavors in the gelato case.

Being the only customer inside, I grinned at the colors, the Mandarin Orange next to the Pistachio green. The new guy paced from the "Order Here" sign to me, and I continued to grin at the gelato. There was Wildberry (too fruit-ily purple), Dutch Chocolate (too brown for my teeth), Vanilla (not into S&M), and something called White Coffee. The container of White Coffee was untouched, virgin.

I figured I should first try the unfairly-termed "slut of flavors" (actually quite complex). I could then build up to the white coffee and certain disappointment unless the coffee is irrepressible.

"I'll have a scoop of Vanilla -- to go," I said.

He scooped a scoop of what, if the labels were accurate, should have been Lemon Cream. I thought briefly of correcting him, but I had nothing against Lemon Cream.

I ate while walking, careful not to let children see me enjoying the richest, most delicious of ice creams, just a hint of lemon among the cold sugar and fat. Hungry children have been known to attack.

I decided to walk through the park. The church bells tolled six o'clock. A retarded kid came out of the park district building.

"Aaahhhhwwww," he said.

I smiled and didn't stare.

"Aaahhhhwwwhoooaah," he said.

The bells kept ringing.

"It's niiiiiiiiice outside."

He said exactly what I was feeling.

The wind blew warm from the south, and a man flew a bumblebee-shaped kite while his wife and toddler daughter watched from the mud. The daughter picked grass. The kite dipped low and the woman yelped.

"String's twisted," said the man.

"Then untwist it," she said.

Some time later, I waited at a stoplight to cross Western Avenue, the longest continuous urban paved road in the world. It was a long light, and I stared over my shoulder at the little white walking man, waiting for it to change to the flashing orange hand. A girl (or was she a woman?) approached wearing a unzipped gray hoodie and what should have been a sports bra, but was not. Too lacy. It was odd to be caught looking over my own shoulder. On the opposite side of the street, I could make out the little white walking man's arm.

I crossed the street quickly, but then slowed to a saunter in order to properly enjoy the climate on this quiet, residential block. She, behind me, walked barely faster. We walked next to each other for an uncomfortable amount of time before she overtook me. It struck me as voyeuristic to slow down so a girl can pass, but no way was I giving up my saunter. I decided to turn right on the next street to avoid the label of "dangerous pervert."

A half a block ahead of me, she stopped on the far corner of the intersection -- on the corner where I planned to turn. She took the hoodie off one shoulder, her back to me, exposing a brown shoulder and a black strap. Then she slid it back on. Then off again.

I did not want to turn down the near corner of the street because I wanted to walk by the elementary school gardens, which, this time of year, look post-apocalyptic. I believe the children are our future.

Like a good, not-dangerous pervert, I took a step to turn at the near corner.

She took the hoodie off the other shoulder.

I stumbled.

She did not turn. She walked straight.

After a brief debate, I turned, thus gaining the label of "appreciative pervert." Next time, I'll work on "desirable pervert."

I turned down an alley to smoke. The shame with which I smoke equals the pleasure with which I smoke. I took my cigarette out, getting excited, and encountered the age-old problem: no lighter. I fit the cigarette back in the pack.

I guess that's the way things go.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

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8:22 PM  

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