Minutes (Chicago)

July 30, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

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  • I sat next to a lawyer in a café downtown. He wore a shiny suit with pink socks and he spoke to a young woman as though on an interview. The subject of Chicago often came up between them and within said subject he often spoke of “expediting” things. Whenever he said “expedite” he rubbed his first two fingers and thumb together. He raised his rubbing hand up in the air, equidistant between their faces, over the center of the table. When the woman ignored the gesture, he did it again. And then he did it again. Again.
  • On the cusp of retirement an old painter regularly forgot to shave. He walked down Milwaukee with a young man under his arm. The nature of their relationship was ambiguous, however I could not help but overhear their conversation. In fact I was so intrigued, and their passage so aimless, I was compelled to follow. What follows more or less recreates their conversation or, rather, the old man’s monologue. “I’ve been going through my paintings. I’ve been going through everything and throwing all the bad stuff out. I have a lot of paintings and I might die soon so I have to make sure to throw out the ones I don’t want to be remembered. You should keep that in mind yourself. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner. I could have died any number of years ago and I would have left behind a terribly spotty collection of work. This way I can control my destiny.” The old man sipped a cup of coffee. “My wife has this chair. It’s an amazing chair. She lives upstairs, you know. She lives in the apartment upstairs and I live in the one downstairs. We realized we have different furniture tastes so it works better this way. She has a chair in her apartment. It’s round and it engulfs all of her when she sits in it. It’s like a womb chair.” Again he drank some coffee. “I’ve lived in this neighborhood ten years now.” He shook his head, nostalgic. “My how it’s changed. I used to wake up to go to work and see a dead body across the street from my front door.” For whatever reason the young man, while he appeared to listen, said nothing at any point.
  • A middle aged man walked into the train station with a clean pressed, bright red polo shirt. When he walked through the front doors he opened his arms with much enthusiasm, as though anticipating great cheers from those in the station itself. Most of the citizens in the vestibule were either purchasing travel cards, climbing stairs or passing through turn styles. They did not pay the fellow close attention. Neither did the attendants, or for that matter, the shop owner at the kiosk. Nevertheless, the man in the polo shirt, undeterred, did a little soft show, stopped in a flurry and, arms open with jazz hands stopped and said “Will you be my alderman?” I suspect he must have been on some campaign.
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4 Responses to “Minutes (Chicago)”


  1. Are you sure that “lawyer” wasn’t actually an alderman discussing a zoning change request with a real estate developer? Was there a thick manila envelope present?

  2. urbesque Says:

    were you there too? how did you know? did you notice them playing footsie under the table?

    -caroline

  3. Pete Says:

    Wasn’t there, but as a lifelong Chicagoan I just sensed it.

  4. urbesque Says:

    you might be able start a business with a crystal ball….


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