By Jim Bowman
At Clark and Rascher in the ward is a coffee shop with patio and ten small metal tables with chairs. Good for sitting while drinking coffee, eating buns, writing letters to Oak Park AND River Forest, and watching little birds.
One of these is scratching around next to a chair in front of mine from which a slim 60-ish lady in pale purple sprinkles tiny crumbs on the sidewalk and, like me, watches. The small bird nibbles. The lady bends further as the bird hops nearer. All of it under a blue, blue sky. I note this.
I look across Clark Street, which a few months before teemed with vehicles, but now has only a few, including bicycles. I see across the street a well-porched reddish-bricked condo building, which to the look of it might have been built yesterday. Typical of the 'hood, where there's been a building boom. God knows what will be as the economy sputters.
I stop to violate protocol by rubbing my eyes (with the heel of my hand), then with fingers wrapped in (clean) handkerchief. Can't be too careful, you hear. I dispute that. You can be too-anything, my friends, and you can quote me.
This don't-touch-your-face codicil (to the social contract) is a bore. I don't want to pick my nose in public, nothing so gross. I mean I want to but wouldn't in a month of Sundays. I've got manners.
But I do have a habit of feeling around -- seeing how heavy the beard with view of the possible need for shave, moving up to smoothe the old-fella bushy eyebrows, leaning head on hands.
As I do now, scribbling feverishly on the yellow lined pad.
Answer Book 2019
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