2 guys Sunday

5 02 2008

Here’s what’s good: Sunday afternoon in the deepest part of the winter trench, just non-descript cold, nothing record-breaking, just something to make a person give up hope, yes, just about that cold with equal absence of light to go with it. Take a walk in the empty part of town.

In Chicago you can’t get emptier than the financial district just three blocks west of State Street. Take La Salle Street or Wells on a cold Sunday afternoon and the air has a tang of permanent stock market plunge. Let’s say a thousand points, give or take.

This particular bleak afternoon in question, plan “b” ends up walking just steps behind 2 Guys who think they’re alone in Chicago, alone as in “who’d ever help them anyway?” They’re clean enough and the clothes might be their own, bought by them or they might have gotten them at the plays they give out old clothes.

The past year or so the guys on the street are showing up with pretty good wardrobes, clothes just out of the stores long enough for the guy who bought it to get tired of it and decide to give it to the “less fortunate” a kind of fashion prayer to the daily superstitions of urban people doing well: how long could this last?

But, again, these 2 guys on Sunday might have bought their gear themselves. They both have big team jackets, the big and heavy kind of jackets that can drag a little guy down in a good wind.

The angle they are leaning towards each other as they walk & talk makes it clear they’ve been talking along in an agreeable way so far. Man on the right is still talking. He’s taking off on something he just said. He should’ve stopped talking while Man on the left answered but he didn’t stop and now his breathing is changing and he’s a little louder.

plan “b” recognizes the signs, there’s a lot of this going on these days. Something, a conversation between two people who essentially agree, for example, begins calmly enough, rational, a rhythmic give and take between two friends, then someone’s breathing changes and that one can’t stop talking.

“You’re losing it man.” That was Man on left if you’ve lost track. He’s speaking low, as if this deserted street were full of plain-clothes cops; as if one more angry word and his friend would get the both of them thrown inside. The city jail is just two blocks away (there’s a basketball court on the triangular roof. Harry Weese architects figured most of the people inside the building were innocent anyway and they designed it to make their stay more pleasant).

“You’re losing it man.” That was said gently but with threat and immediate effect. It was the moment of readjustment that must be happening millions of times a day these days. It has to be.

By plan “b’s” calculation the division of labor has become extremely simple: half the world is veering into anger and the other half is bringing them back. Later in the day they’ll be changing places.

These days it’s taking both halves of the world just to keep the whole bunch of us trying to figure out what’s the best thing to do next. Best to avoid useless spewing, n’est-ce pas. Simply “letting off steam” is probably the worst thing we could do.




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