Minutes (Chicago)

July 20, 2009

posted & written by Caroline Picard


  • Tevas at the farmer’s market, everywhere. 75% of all customers wear tevas.
  • Every two weeks the same University of Chicago student comes to purchase a new basil plant, claiming that the one she bought two weeks prior had once again died. Each time she admits that she cannot care for plants and, as though as an excuse says, “you know, I’m a student at the University of Chicago.”
  • A middle aged woman, almost six feet, fairly lean, with close cropped hair and clear clark kent glasses regularly insists that she is the alpha. She has a calm German Shepherd mix on a leash. It is more or less non-plussed, yawns regularly and licks the mole on its face. The owner is also wearing a fanny pack (and yes. She is also wearing tevas). She leans over and puts a flat palm over the dog’s nose. “Sit,” she says. “Stay.” She stands up, watching her dog like a hawk even with this new posture. She looks at the vendor. “I’m not supposed to say the command more than once,” she says. “The dog has to know who’s alpha.” The dog stands up but doesn’t otherwise move. “MISSY!” the owner cries, stamping her nylon sandal on the ground. She yanks up on the leash. The dog does not look at her, but does sit down. “I’m the alpha,” the owner explains to the vendor. She tugs on the leash again. “Now Sit Down.” The dog sits. It licks it’s mole. The owner opens her fanny pack while conspiratorially leaning under the vendor’s stand and over the vendor’s wears. “I’m not supposed to do this.” She pulls a treat out of the fanny pack and bends down and feeds the dog a treat, muttering alpha alpha alpha again and again under her breath. The dog stands up, tugs a little on its leash to smell an errant scent, soliciting once more the scolds of its alpha.
  • A sixty-year old woman, pear-bodied, she is about two hundred and seventy-five pounds. She has a stringy head of silver-grey hair that hangs limp to her shoulders. She has bangs. She carries herself in a relatively mild manner combined with direct purpose. She has an air of one who knows what she likes. Her short stop just above the knee. They are pastel pink. They just just above her belly button and she has a grey t-shirt tucked into the shorts that says Precious Moments & TAOS, NM on it. Her soft sac grocery bag is brimming with green leafy vegetables and she is vaguely smiling; she smiles as one who looks at life that way and so her smile is casual, accidental even, reflecting an interior and pervasive state of being rather than a peculiar mood. This I attribute to her socks. Or, I suspect her socks–the lynch pin of her outfit (I have never known socks to function the focal point)–are symptomatic, again, of some interior sensibility, what must undoubtably be the font for happiness itself. She had keds on–white ones–and lavender ankle socks. They weren’t simply lavendar though, but rather they had a doily edge, about three or four inches long. Circling each ankle was a neckline of about three and half inches of lavendar cotton doily–and elaborate doily too. Each step she took, the doily quivered and trembles about her legs. Ecstatic and precious.

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