Everywhere you go--in Manhattan at least, but parts of Brooklyn, too, like the part I'm going to describe--you see em: those unmistakable blue and yellow carnival umbrellas shading the little man behind a salt stack of pretzels and a shiny steel box full of dogs. Sabrett's--We're on a Roll! The umbrella proclaims.
Current mood: Transcendent?
Well yesterday I was on a stroll--a march, really. I had this god damned box I needed to get to the UPS store, and the UPS store on Court St. was shut down, and I couldnt' find the one on Flatbush, and, well---errands on foot in the city is a bitch. You can do like two things, or half of eighty things, but you never, really, get it, all, done. And it's kind of sticky out anyway and I'm hot and everybody's whirling by and I mentally calculate the distance to the relocated new and improved UPS store in, of course, Brooklyn Heights (I'll explain in a minute).
Ultimately I decide it's worth stanking on the train all sweat soaked to get this box outta my hands and not have to do this all over again. So off to da Heights. Ok, here's a profile--once Olivia called it the country club of Brooklyn. It really is--it's not that it's just swank, it's residential as hell, and the closest you can get to Manhattan except Williamsburg, which is more like a playpen for rich 23 year old recent whitekid graduates in skinny jeans and on single gear bikes. It's like a swarm up there. But da Heights, the Heights is actually kinda pretty, in a I hate you that you have such a nice view and beautiful house I"ll never get envious kind of way.
There is one street with stores on it, Montague, kind of a pseudo-mall feel to it, with Banana Republic and shit like that (stuff you're not used to because the BK has a number of not so chainy stores on the street), and, yup, that's the street I need to be on. It's too narrow for this kind of thing, and so swarmed with people at three thirty on a Thursday. But I soldier on and see more graying boomers in the recline of their lives living it up than I care to, and turn the block and almost get mauled by a pair aggressively holding hands. No idea why they're doing this.
Anyway, so I get kind of turned around, and the week's been strange anyway. It's holy month, and don't I know it, with Orthodox jews at the subway station entrances carrying a quince in one hand and some sort of palm tree spiked sword wrapped in the plastic you see around 7-11 single 1.99 roses in the other, asking me if I'm Jewish, telling me to have a good day when I say no. No idea why they're doing this.
But when I turn, and turn into the light, and see him, I know just what's going on. He's little, and brown, and behind that little hot dog cart, oblivious to any customers that may come (none at this moment). And I don't need to see his hat, his little form fitting round hat, with careful silver stitching its design all the way around, to know what this is. He backs up, nearly into the street, calibrates for a minute, crosses his arms with his hands on his elbows, loosely, and looks down to pray. I know its Ramadan, but you forget what that means, and to who, and how that works sometimes. The how is really something here. I keep gawking and walking, walking away from him, with the sun in my eyes and past the cart, to see him better, in different angles. He has some cardboard and half a trash bag spread out at his feet, and I"ll be dog if he doesn't get down on his knees facing diagonal, right IN to that hot dog cart, and bows his head on the thin membrane of Glad that separates him from the dark spots of old gum and stale spit and dog urine smell of the pavement.
It's a hell of a town...