March 19, 2010

Two Days On a Park Bench

Day 1

Across from the train stop, there is a bench that I pass on my way to the grocery store.  The wooden slats are painted green, with a few graffiti signatures here and there.  Hardly anyone sits on it, which strikes me as kind of odd.  It’s the perfect place to observe the comings and goings of people around the neighborhood.  I suppose everyone else has better things to do.
    For the first time in seven months, I finally sat there.  My first mistake, however, occurred at the grocery store.  I still had quite a bit of writing to do at home, so I bought a small beer, 12 ounces, from the grocery store, along with the ingredients for dinner.  The ‘beer’ was actually a spritzig, which is German for fairy piss, if I had to guess.  Anyway, I sat there watching the folks come and go from the train just as I had planned a hundred-some-odd times.

There’s a fenced-in area nearby where folks can sit and talk while their dogs dry hump.  A hard-looking man with a triumphant moustache and shaved head wheeled by on a fancy bicycle.  I took a sip from my spritzig and studied the label.  2.5% alcohol.  My god, I should be a little more selective next time.  Ah, well.  At least it’s warm enough to sit on a bench without keeling the hell over. 

Day 2

    Leaning back with the sun in my face here in the park -- 200-yards of sloshing fountain and lunch.  I crammed this pita pocket with last night’s chick peas, chicken, onions, garlic, gobs of cumin.  It’s foil-wrapped in the curl of my hand as I take in the sun.  I closed my eyes and let the sound of the fountain fool me into a beach-goers reality.

There was a scarf in the middle of the walkway in front of a middle-aged couple.  The wind blew it over to the man’s foot.  I watched him pick it up, quietly observing.  He picked it up and tucked it around a slat in the bench.  I ate half a pita next to an elderly sun worshiper. 

    I feel pretty tough walking around my neighborhood.  I think it's a retirement community.  Canes are a hot commodity around here.  I especially like those high-tech deals with the big plastic armband and titanium for maximum strength/weight ratio.  There isn’t much to do in my neighborhood, but it’s pretty.  The tallest trees sprout up like lighter flames, and have branches like capillaries, supplying blood to this section of sky and that passing cloud.

    When the couple on the bench left, something came over me.  I brought my bag and pita over to the bench where the scarf was blowing in the wind.  I sat down, examined it with my thumb and index finger.  Striped, subdued, and most likely silk.  No one carries anything cheap into a park anymore.  Reputations are at stake.  I stuffed it into my backpack. It was such a nice, sunny day.

    It sounds kind of dumb, but all of a sudden I became paranoid, as if there might be storm troopers hiding in the bushes waiting to pounce.  That’s so predictable, I thought.  I sat there munching away at my pita.  It was only a matter of when.  After they're finished putting bamboo shoots under my fingernails, I’ll hand wash that scarf and some of my wife’s bras.

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