Sunday, March 11, 2007


The cats are eating sunflower seeds. Every ten minutes I drop a small handful, about a dozen or so, on the computer table and they crowd around the little pile, pushing the seeds around with their noses. Every so often a seed drops off the edge of the table and they crawl down to stalk the nearly invisible pellet. I'm not sure how many of them are getting eaten. I do know that I'll have to sweep up later.

A woman drifting up the pedestrian mall, tacking back and forth to warn passersby: “If you're going to call home, do it collect”. People crane their necks in the other direction, swing their arms and hunch their backs, generally pick up the pace, anything to avoid the terrible news from this woman in secondhand clothes. Everyone's got some place to be when the crazy people start sailing into their waters. The woman wanders into the street, passes through a pack of smoking teenagers. “Call collect,” she advises. The kids draw on their cigarettes and nod in agreement.

I'm the only other person in the coffee shop. The two men at the table by the window are in the midst of a conversation. One wears a silver beard, an oiled outback hat, a bomber jacket, with an orthopedic cane for an accessory. When he stands up for a refill one leg swings out straight, rotating as if on a pivot. The other man is younger, at least a generation removed from his friend, a baseball cap encasing a hairstyle short but somehow still shaggy. They look mismatched, as if one were sponsoring the other. Or maybe they're propping each other up.

Old: Ah.
Young: What's that?
Old: I can taste the sugar in my coffee.
Young: You can taste. It's a miracle! It's a miracle!
Old: Just a bit of sugar.
Young: It's a miracle!
Old: It's no miracle, it's just sugar.
Young: You told me you couldn't taste anything.
Old: I can't.
Young: But you can taste the sugar!
Old: No, I can just tell it's in the coffee.
Young: If you can't taste it, why does it even matter to you?
Old: I don't like sugar in my coffee.
Young: Why not, if you can't taste it?
Old: It's just the way I am.
Young: I'm sorry.
Old: You don't have to apologize.
Young: Apologize for what?

They go on like that for at least a half hour.


Thomas said...

By a strange twist, I once bought a coffee for a woman on the street in Manhattan that kept calling out, "I'm at the scene of the crime and there's more to life than spaghetti."

She complained that I had put to much sugar in it.

The world is full of symmetries.

My Head Is Too Big said...

in toronto i bought a coffee for a fella who claimed to be an intergalactic jade miner.

ozma said...

There was one guy I used to like to talk to who hung around my college. His conversation, I guess you could say, didn't follow a linear path. Yet, you could talk to him. He had a strong interest in Voyager I and Voyager II.

I saw him once give money to a homeless guy. One homeless guy giving money to another homeless guy.

I really loved that guy. I'm sometimes amazed I haven't turned out like him. Not yet, anyway.

Grand Tuma said...

There's a panhandler I remember in Regina, who came up to me on Scarth Street once, grabbed my hand, put a loonie in it and said, "Coffee's on me today." I think his name is Norm. I wonder if he's still around.

hailey said...

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