The Other Side of the Street

There goes Robert, bundled up against the weather, walking through the parking lot across the street. I’m at Bauhaus, reading a book and drinking cocoa. I only see Robert from behind, but his left glasses lens is visible from this angle. His face is lopsided or his glasses are askew or his head is turned slightly this way, and there’s that big lens. It feels like he’s staring back at me through it.

I went to see Master and Commander last night. The fire alarm went off in the theater and the audience was herded outside. They fed us free passes and sent us away. But before that happened, there was a scene in the movie where the ship was preparing for battle. Aubrey lifted a spyglass up to his eye to study the enemy ship. He flinched. What he saw in the scope was the French captain standing out on deck, peering back at Aubrey through his own spyglass. That’s what seeing the lens staring at me from the other side of Robert’s head feels like. Robert sometimes stops by my usual haunts to see if I’m around to buy him coffee. And I assume that he was just in here, and that he either didn’t spot me, or he decided that he’d be bothering me if he did come over to talk. (Chances are, I would have been bothered.)

Now he’s passed out of sight behind a building. There are no sidewalks on that side of the street. I guess he might be camped out under the overpass.

Prose

Loose piles of distinct snowflakes accumulate in corners and on edges. Sharp-edged flakes swirl in the wind and sting bare faces. It’s freaking cold.

Conflicted, Yes

Dale describes himself as “fiscally conservative, and socially liberal,” but someone else might call him conflicted. On one hand he’s a registered Republican. On the other hand, the reason he allowed his ACLU membership to lapse is because they sold his address to other groups and he started getting more junk mail. Actually, he’s usually pretty consistent in his convictions.

So I was surprised when he told me that he was having second thoughts about his support of the Iraq invasion. He was just beginning to believe that Bush had lied about having proof that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Actually, he told me, he wouldn’t mind the lie if the true motive turns out to have been a principled one. But he didn’t believe that was the case here.

Then he told me that Bush could potentially be the Hitler of the 21st century. This is where I found myself defending Bush . . . entirely on the grounds that he was not as bad as Hitler.

The conversation shortly began to wane and I asked Dale a question, “Are you going to vote for Bush in 2004?”

Dale’s answer was, “I won’t decide until November.”

Chicken

[Ceramic & taxidermy chickens]

The chickens have been big sellers. They’re just flying off the shelves. (Thank you, good night!) Luckily, Les Piafs received a new shipment before running out of their old stock.

Oh, and happy New Year!