.

 

Meeting

There are two basic sorts of pedestrians, those in motion from A to B and the loomers, who move stop-and-start, and set a shuffling pace, investigating trash, asking for quarters. To them we add two recent variations: cell phone users, and now the smokers, both of whom are banished from the bars and restaurants, self-selected social pariahs who breed either annoyance or lung cancer by their presence. They duck in, commit their deeds, they duck out.

And through it walks me, hepped up on caffeine, and singing. This being 11:30. And I am coming from a good conversation. It's enough, to listen to people talk about their lives. In this case a woman formerly of the army. It was beautiful to watch her, because she is in agony, worried about friends, and full of hatred for the this administration, and in her—she went on, got her degree, remained in the reserves—and she spun around herself. It was something not to get up and knock the dip over and embrace her, pull her out of her gyroscopic balance.

Because she keeps looking for a way for things to be all right. But she's too close to the moment, too close to the experience. “I'm not watching any more TV,” she said. “I turned it off.”

“Then you're missing some fantastic reality television,” I said. “They're marrying off a midget on Fox. And making fun of the fat. We're only a moment away from 'Who wants to Fight in Gladiatorial Combat' and 'Who Wants to Buy My Daughter?'“

The evils of the age are so apparent, so blatant. What sort of annal do you need.

“I can do without the reality TV,” she said.

She was at Rebecca's, and Elephant the German Shepherd ran back and forth between the rooms for no reason. She is a graduate student in political science at Rebecca's university. I am falling for her, even though she won't remember me at all. That almost corporeal ambiguity, child-sized, hanging in there, the desire to be a patriot and to change things, the hopelessness, and a distrust of the facts. Oh lurkers she makes me sing. Emperor of New York, shield me from pigeons and bring me into her arms.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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