(Ed note: Don’t worry. This won’t be an overly theoretical wank. I don’t have the brain power for it this morning.)

1) Paris is not all leisurely strolls through open-air markets and sufficient time to cook. This I’ve always known because I’m capable of retaining a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to media. This morning finally yielded evidence from the field. A friend who recently moved to Paris posted a Facebook photo of “noon at the chain grocery store.” I had a moment of simultaneous horror and delight. (There has to be a German word for that…) Horror because another soul, one I actually know, had to experience that dreadful of a queue. Delight because I’m just an iconoclast. As it is in Jewel, so it is in Tesco, Monoprix and all the world over. Salut to disbanding stereotypes.

2) We had a rehearsal for a large grant event at work this past Friday. I had to be there an hour and a half early, so was on a different train than usual. The Purple stopped at Howard, like it always does. An older African-American man gets on, talking loudly to no one in particular about how you don’t want to get wet out there, it just makes it colder. I glance at him quickly. He’s wearing one of those disabled veterans cards around his neck. The train pulls out and, after a stop or so, he asks the man in front of me “Excuse me brother, do you like poetry?” The man replies, “No.” and the vet sits back down. I turn my head out the window toward pigeon shit rooftops and wet streets because we’ve all seen this schtick before. A few stops later, he approaches me. “Excuse me miss, do you like poetry?” He offers handwritten words photocopied on yellow paper. The title reads “A Desire to be Strong.” I reply, “Sometimes.” knowing that I’ve just become his target. He tells his story – some division of the Marines, small arms specialist, born Oct 25, 1948, diabetic. He reads his poem. Somewhere in my mind I’m thinking “I’ve seen this cat before. Is he the same one who recited poetry about Leo women, hugged me and asked me to marry him that one night while waiting for Jeff in front of Bravo?” Then he asks for $5 for food. I thought I had some change and started searching. Turns out I didn’t. In this pause, I noticed his breath was really sweet with a hint of ammonia. Not booze sweet, but diabetic, bad kidneys sweet. I asked him, “When was the last time you ate?” He replied “Yesterday afternoon.” I ask him if he can follow me to my stop so we can get him some breakfast.

Noyes comes. I can see from the El platform that the usual places aren’t open because it’s so goddamn early. As we wander through the grey mist of Chicago spring, I notice he isn’t keeping up. I look behind me and he’s tottering along; his body obviously hurts. We talk of where the Marines took him – Germany, Hawaii, Vietnam four times over. A posh coffee shop is open. We go in. They have nothing a diabetic should be eating; only muffins and bananas on the menu. As it turned out, they were even out of bananas. He says it’s better than nothing. I rustle up a few bran ones and a glass of whole milk while he’s in the restroom and set him up in a window seat. As I leave, I see that he’s taking all these prescriptions out of his bag. I can’t help but laugh a little, thinking about the young blonde thing behind the counter, pouring hot water over free trade grounds into small beakers, her “Soy, skim, 2% or whole?” reply when I asked for a glass of milk and what might be going through her head right now. I wander off in the rising dawn to campus while Evanston sleeps. My primary responsibility that day? Catering.

Advertisements