Sometimes Just Looking Sad Will Get You Free Beer
I grabbed a water bottle, an apple and my work bag and headed to Rittenhouse Square to read while the morning rush flew by. I am so rarely up this early, I decided to observe how the more ambitious people start their day. Polo shirts and skirts of every color paraded by me. Once in a while a poor soul would trudge by in a dark suit; these were people whose rigid dress codes or inflexible, personal constitutions did not allow for such summer luxuries. Most people carried Ipods clandestinely in their pockets, their listening given away by the telling wires that hung from their ears. It made me feel bad about my archaic discman that sat compliantly on my lap. And then I felt guilty for feeling bad.
Some hippie-type old man with long gray stringy hair and a too-small pair of purple Umbro’s brought his flute to the park and played. After a horrendous tune up, in which he botched the half steps of each scale (he couldn’t play major or minor well), he serenaded the park with “Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to Work We Go.” It was hardly “Morning” by Grieg. It’s a very happy song for such bleak subject matter, and the scornful look of the passersby implicitly said more than any complaint could have.
Some of the benches were beds for the homeless. Most were covered in white sheets that someone must have handed out. The sheets were not quite long enough to keep their dirty socks and baseball cap rims from peering out of each end. Taking the longview of the park, it looked like a makeshift morgue was set up in a garden. It was kind of beautiful in a morbid, sad kind of way. The inner plaza of the park was almost completely shrouded in the shade from the trees. (Someone once told me if you see the park from above, it looks like a little forest in the middle of the city; you wouldn’t even know there were sidewalks or fountains.) The one spot where the hot sun beat down was occupied by 10 girls, each in a different color shirt (What are the odds?) taking turns playing Double Dutch.
KC nearly walked past me before I yelled for her attention. I forgot it was the first time I had seen her since she left for Scotland or I would have hugged her. She was surprised to see me and asked if I were wearing that to work, unaware that I could dress down and take casualness to new levels only dreamed of by slackers everywhere. She assured me, though, that it didn’t look like I got ready in the dark. Even though I did.
I sat and devoured Amsterdam by Ian McEwan, since I finished The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. It was a good book (no Middlesex), but it was odd to read such light prose about suicide. It was the first time in a while that I allowed myself to think seriously and introspectively about suicide. It made me think specifcally of how after someone very close to me once tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide, I was in charge of removing all the items from the house that could have been used to successfully complete the job. I walked through the person’s house with a box, filling it with medicines, knives, scissors and anything that could have been creatively implemented to act as death-bringing paraphernalia. It was like a shopping spree for pills and sharp objects. I had to actually think to myself, “How would I try to kill myself?” After collecting all I could, I brought the box to my bedroom and secured it under my bed, where I would sleep every night reminded that I had a death kit beneath me. I can still point to the exact spot in my shower where I stared for about an hour after I finished securing the home. When things were better, I was able to place all the items back where they belonged in that house, so this person could again open envelopes without getting a paper cut or relieve a headache by taking 2 Advil instead of 200. It’s interesting to note that unsuccessful suicide attempts can either compound a person’s feeling of ineptitude and failure in life (You couldn’t even succeed at that?) or signal a relief. The fact that this particular suicide attempt’s failure invoked feelings of relief in this person leads me to believe uncharacteristically optimistically that this person never wholeheartedly wanted to succeed at dying in the first place.
Um, anyway, on a lighter note, before I went shopping all day at Franklin Mills with CC and JB, we passed the Wyndham where there was some sort of freak Anime convention where everyone surrounding the building was wearing a bushy tail and ears. We asked the garage attendant what the deal was. Before answering us, she looked over her shoulder as if people were hunting her for her secrets and whispered, “They’re all over the place. These people wear ears and tails all the time. They, like, never take them off. They come from everywhere…Delaware, California, Michigan. They, like, drive for hours and I think they actually think they’re animals!” She was obviously disturbed, and with good reason. I was intrigued, but not enough to follow up on this lifestyle. I would appreciate it if anyone could let me know more about it.
As for Franklin Mills, why is everyone in Northeast Philadelphia pregnant? Stop!
Finally, last night I went to pick up some health food (steak and cheese stromboli) at a local pizza place, and while I waited for them to give me my food after two botched attempts (one was dropped, its replacement was made with onions and peppers- unacceptable), I talked on the phone with AM. I was telling her I had something stuck in my eye and it was driving me crazy. I react to eye problems how Nancy Kerrigan reacted to the lead pipe to the shin, it’s not pretty. I went into the bathroom to rinse out my eye and realized after the rinse that there were no paper towels or toilet paper (this is not a classy joint, natch). I emerged from the bathroom with a wet face and puffy eyes, looking like I had just been sobbing. The managers of the place thought I was so upset about something that they offered me a free beer. So I took it. It was kind of embarrassing; they must have thought I was crazy, but hey, free beer!