Dé Máirt, Meitheamh 23, 2009

She's Been Waiting for me All Along

There was no cholora epidemic that killed a tenth of Chicago in the 1870's. Even a lot of people who live here think there was. It is an essential American trait that we need to be reminded that a hundred and thirty years ago was only a hundred and thirty years ago, that if there had been a plague that killed seventy five thousand people, there would still be quite a hell of a lot of evidence of it.

It's never been proven that Daley Sr. stole the election for JFK. He just probably did is all. Writers are sexually attracted to knowing what other people don't, and there's a reason why so many come from here. The layers of what you know and others don' what you don't yet know, and what you don't even know there is to be known, are inumerable. If any serious thinker grows tired and old here they were never a thinker at all. I know secrets you don't. I know the crack fiend who loves NPR and has a knowledge of city politics as encyclopedic as a librarians. The gays are more preternaturally kind than ascetic saints. The lesbians not so much.

When and where the buses run is a secret I still need to learn. The el station nearest Hyde Park is a mile and a half away. Vacant lots, condemned townhouses, a twelve-year old boy ruling his block with a 40-oz for a scepter. Not Hyde Park. Today the 'Sun Times' told me that the place where the Green Line stops over Garfield is the second most dangerous neighborhood in America. A man there asked me for change five times over a course of ten minutes. He followed me into the chicken shack where they put this thick hot sauce on the chicken and fries and it's delicious. I finally told him that not every white man who comes to his block is a Kennedy. But upon learning this new information that might actually be so.

Hyde Park is a jewel of a spot. You can see the South Side's downtown and the idol smokestacks of Gary from the beach. Lake Michigan is cleaner than people back home would think, cleaner than I thought, certainly better than the mudholes on the high plains. The water was so cold that I felt my blood pressure drop but it was humid and it was good. I was safe in the president's neighborhood. Thirty dollare in cash stuffed in my shoe guarded by nothing but a dirty sock. His house looks nice and unlived in.

I hope I never find out all of the secrets that women have. I hope there's always something about them that I don't know. The one right here. That one over there. That working girl last night. Yes I did.

The new one. The one who wants a straightforward thing, something solid and exclusive, without the mental S&M games. The one who came to me. The one who, I'll be damned, this one wants me right back. 'Im Liz. I like you. You got a girlfriend?" Harsh and quick. The Chicago bark. Just a hint of East Coast blending into the cadence. Just a hint, because we're not there. This is still the Midwest. Ask a stranger a question and they'll answer you with contrived annoyance condensation, but they'll still give you directions. The I-love-you's are flat and to the point, like how my Mom says it to Dad.

It's been claimed by many, Bouvier comes to mind, that men tend to equate cities with women. This is very much true, painfully obvious even. There's quite a hell of a lot of Joan Beran in you Chicago. You're a good fun broad who knows everyone and can handle grunt work just fine. Still you're stratigically soft to the ones you can trust, the ones you know you can rely upon. A city to mother me so the women don't have to. It comes so much easier now. Men and women alike are so direct that it can't help but bleed unto me. So I'm straight and real right back. The people I talk to seem to like me. I've been worse.

Here in the downtown library is a man who spends his whole afternoon looking at foot fetish porn. He's free to do so. This is a city library, and he's a citizen with a library card. He just needs to keep it softcore, and that's easy enough to do. The pussyfoot is just a myth.

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