There are times when I hate living in a city. My neighborhood of Seattle has exploded with construction this summer, the downsides of which have been legion: closed streets, traffic jams, blossoms of dust and dirt, and a never-ending throb of noise, to name but a few.
But then there are times, such as this morning, when I’m forced to reconsider.
I put on my shorts and sneakers, grabbed a raincoat (yes, it’s begun), and started walking to the gym. I was waiting at an intersection when I was approached by a middle aged woman in jeans and a jacket with a coffee in her hand. She stood next to me and asked,
“Are you jogging?”
Feeling playful (it’s the rains: I’m happy they’re back, though ask me about that in three months and I’m certain to be singing a different tune), I replied, “No, I’m standing.”
“Well, you look like you’re jogging.”
“I haven’t moved since you got here.”
“Well, you look like a jogger.”
Perhaps I did: what was I to argue? The light changed and for a moment I thought about running off—jogging away, if you will—but stubbornly resisted the urge.
A few blocks later I passed a homeless guy spiraling on a corner. He was disheveled and tweaking, like a cast member of Fraggle Rock who’d been poorly shorn with a pair of dulled hedging shears and kept alive on a strict diet of amphetamines and licorice.
He nodded and mumbled something incomprehensible. I didn’t stop for clarification and he fell in step about ten feet behind me. He followed me for the next six blocks, crying out every five seconds or so, his voice alternating between a mumble and an electric accusation, “Hey, Bad Boy. Hey. Hey, Bad Boy. Hey. Bad Boy, Hey.”
I returned home from the gym to my apartment, which looks out onto the deck of my neighbors, a very sweet and slightly eccentric gay couple. As I was removing my shoes one of them came out onto his deck to smoke. He was wearing a tight knit sleeveless top and a pair of shimmering silk gold bell-bottoms. The pant legs were cartoonishly wide—you could’ve comfortably filled each with several additional human legs—but tucked into narrow constricting folds at the waist.
He looked like he’d been dressed by early 70’s David Bowie, the one who was convinced his name was Ziggy Stardust and that there really were starmen coming from Mars to tell us things. I got his attention and called out through the window,
“Those pants, seriously—what’s going on?”
He looked back at me and dragged coquettishly from his cigarette. He tilted his head and replied,
“They’re from Thailand.”
That was all the explanation he offered, and all that I required. I smiled and thought, It’s a good day.
BTW I was a huge David Bowie fan during that incredibly androgynous period of his. Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars as well as Aladin Sane. Yes, I saw him perform, and still have the best picture ever taken of him that night from the main floor at the Michigan Palace. My favorite song? From his album Hunky Dory, called Changes. You need to listen to the creepy back music that goes with it. Who was it (Socrates or Plato) that said a bazillion years ago, “Look to the music for change” ? It is sooooooo true!!! Whenever there is a new style of music coming onto the horizon, whether it be elvis or the beatles or punk, rap, or techno, it coincides with some historic change.