You’re just a person. And now there’s seven billion. If you work from 9:30AM until 5:30PM with an hour for lunch, you only work seven hours a day. So easy is your life! Riding the elevator as the CapTiVate screen gives you infobits, and beauty tips as it advertise your descent. The shiny steel doors open. Your soft rubber souls peel you easily forward along the smooth gray marble. “I will!” assures the off-duty guard to the on duty guard. Why does the off-duty guard, have two knee-braces and a walking stick? Or isn’t she a guard at all, but just an acquaintance of the guard? And what is it the one will do and the other needed to know she’d do? But there’s no time for speculation because two big glass rectangles at right angles form a giant spinning paddle, and you must grab the handle on one of the faces, pull yourself into the turning quadrant, and–at exactly the right moment–toss yourself out onto the dirty cement sidewalk. But that’s a dramatization, and actually this too is easy.
Head then across Court Street. Walk along the flat strong pavers behind the Brooklyn Borough Hall, upon whose majestic whitestone pyramiding steps (half a pyramid, then flattened off as a stage for doors and pillars beneath a Roman triangle) people sit, mostly in pairs, sometimes alone, mostly younger–what I most noticed where two attractive you women in the 20something, the pale face looking down into a phone or a book and talking to the red oak with the precise face and hawk nose, who looked my way when I was still a young man and the spring sun had only just begun to somber-down and spread-out.
I’ve seen them sell various on their tables on Joralemon between Court and Adams, and then even more so all along the Fulton Mall. Children’s books, DVDs, Afrocentric jewelry, cabbie caps, vials of odors, incense sticks, CDs of secular and Christian soul music played loudly from a boombox and sold cheaply–especially if you buy five.
People stream past the passerby, we all pass each other by. We’re all going somewhere. Except for those waiting for a bus. Otherwise we’re walking past the stores or we’re walking into or out of the stores. Or restaurants. You can get McDonalds, or you can get Burger King, or you can walk a little further and get another Burger King. You can buy Halal from the street carts, or just hot dogs from the street carts–hot dogs that I don’t even know are Kosher. They probably are. The street cart that most interests me is the one duded up like a seatrip wrapped in the Union Jack and where you can buy fish and chips just like the Queen probably eats. I never buy anything from it, but I always think, “I’m going to have to get that some day!” Some day, some day, ah, you’re someday song has pulled me along long enough!, Fulton Mall.
With a rolling-brick (how now these long strings of brick that, between columns of windows, dangle the classic storefront?) Macy’s where all the salespeople and most of the shoppers are black. Where you can buy socks and underwear and sneakers and blue jeans and dress shirts just like you did back home, except now instead of most all the salespeople and shoppers being white, they’re black. And also the building’s older, and so snazzier and glossier than the mall-Macy’s where you spent your cotton-ball youth.
Ah well, let it pass, let everyone passeryouby. And find yourself on the other side, forgetful, drowsy, almost unraveled, and all, if you’re to be believed, because you’ve only got one pair of shoes and have worn them down and they are not bouncing your feet the way they should and this not from poverty but sheer laziness, a laziness that will not end but will in fact only continue and so spread and worsen, as you head, not to the Atlantic Terminal Mall to buy shoes (that’s where you actually buy shoes, since they have a DSW there, and you can’t think what else to do with your feet), but down into the ground, into the subway, into the easy way home.
I’ll ask you first this: