Minutes (Chicago)

July 7, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard


  • I stepped off the train today and climbed up the stairs to the street-level. A man greeted me with a clip board under his arm. He was poorly dressed. He looked like he hadn’t slept, much less shaved, in days. He was ashy but he smiled at me. He put out his hand. I took it with my right–like Moshe, I have a rule that any hand offered must be taken. He asked me four five dollars. He would not let go my hand. He said he needed five dollars and I could sign his petition to help people like him with AIDS. He kept shaking my hand. Only when I promised him the money did he let go. I pulled a fiver from my wallet and signed the petition. Thereafter I put my right hand in my pocket until I got back home.
  • At a restaurant down south I watched a woman eating lunch with a man. They sat opposite one another, and though I can’t explain why I am sure they were not lovers. They wore business clothes, not suits, but slacks without ties or other formal accoutrements. She ordered a salad. He ordered a glass of milk, a bowl of pasta and side of chicken. When their meals came hers was green and his an overall beige circa 1963. He explained that he was trying to bulk up; recently, he’d said, he’d made a habit of ordering additional meats On The Side. He seemed very proud of himself.
  • Down the street from me there is a flat iron building with a bank underneath. Over top the bank the building hosts many artist studios. A number of those studios are used, illegally, as apartments and at one time, last year, a man hung himself in one of the rooms. For more than five years a doll-maker lives and works in the corner-studio of the second floor. He makes large, human-sized dolls and often uses human hair for their wigs. He is a short fellow, taller but built like a dwarf. He has plugs in his ears and he tends to wear elaborate medieval costumes. A few years ago he had taken up with a lover, a younger man in a page-boy’s haircut. The younger man also wore medieval dress: tights and a brown robe, in the style of Matthew Broderick in Lady Hawk. This younger man also had plugs in his ears. He always had a pleasant look on his face, calm and more or less happy at all times. I don’t know where that younger fellow went, but I noticed that once he’d disappeared a white advertisment posted on the doll-maker’s window: NUDE MALE MODELS WANTED with a phone number following.

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