Monday, May 12, 2008

The Walk

The host looked at me, half-concerned as I said: "Just for one, please," solitary in a light summer dress.

Minutes later he passed my table (a booth in the back), handing me a copy of the day's Tribune.

"I thought you might like this," he said.

I smiled and thanked him — in spite of myself — knowing full well the reason for his generosity.

But I was grateful, in a way, scanning the front page to busy myself from thoughts of the day, my eyes immediately consumed by the juxtaposition of two lead stories.

There was, above the fold, a photograph of three Burmese infants (one sleeping, one eating, one crying), filthy and homeless in a devastated nation.

And next to them: a story about how the slowing economy and rising gas prices have forced one Lincoln Park tricksy out of Saks Fifth Avenue and "into Forever 21."

[Though, she later confessed, she refuses to cut back on her Dulce & Gabbana perfume.]

Seeing that story next to the world's-away photo somehow increased my sympathy tenfold for the children so-pictured. And it was funny, in a way, how that picture meant everything to me precisely because the nearby words meant so little.

And so I started to write, my thoughts interrupted by the clop-clop-clop of an elderly woman's shoes [bright red dye job, and even brighter lipstick]. Nearby at another table, the sound seems to disturb a Fragile X boy as he shrieks to cover it — noise upon noise — his parents quieting him with a gentle hush.

Soon my waitress stops by, laughing and moving on when I tell her about the eggshells.

But I wasn't kidding, I thought, There are shells in my eggs.

[Breakfast for dinner is among my favorite treats.]

But she was on to another table, a family, smiling and catering because — as we all know — there are better tips at bigger tables.

And so the nature of my visit hits me: rising later and paying my bill, not stiffing her on a tip despite her poor service.

I walked, then, on to the gallery's reception and decided that — no — now was not the time to enter.

So I grabbed my camera and retraced my steps to take a picture of a plastic bag competing with the American flag for airspace.

Marveling at how, all around me, disparate worlds seemed to collide.

But there was no avoiding the evening's objective: no sense driving home when I'd yet to accomplish what I'd set out to do. So I walked, ever-so-slowly, overcoming my nervousness — my hesitation — just as I realized it had nothing to do with where I was going.

And everything with how I was arriving.


Michael K said...

This made me think of American Beauty and that ain't a bad thing.

ds said...

well, shit, dude - how was the opening? of course, you wouldn't dare tell us that little morsel. anyway, as always, very hip pictures. not just saying it as a friend. I really like that second black and white-ish one. looks like something dipped in honey in 1927. take care of yourself. blah blah blah pain makes you a better artist blah blah blah some shit about depriving yourself of blah blah blah. yeah, it's a lot of fun when you're looking back on it.

M@ said...

You're a master, Yawp. I wasn't reminded of American Beauty. American Beauty reminds me of you. Your observations are fresh.

Good stuff.

disgruntled world citizen said...

in the great scheme of things breakfast for dinner is one of the keys to world peace (the other being a rousing group sing of American Pie). I fully contend that there would be no more war or hatred if we could just have waffles for dinner regularly. Gimme a waffle for dinner I'm set.

Pamela said...

I never would have seen the plastic bag... well, I probably would have cut it out.

Yes. How was the opening?

FXSmom said...

I found your blog by an automatic google search I have for fragile x. I have to say that your writing is gorgeous!! I hope you go far with it :)