Another Dinner, Another Downtown
Another Dinner, Another Downtown
He keeps trying to negotiate with Fate, but she won’t return his calls. Does he even believe in her besides? Karma, more like it, which is, you know, something else entirely. He thinks, as he swirls the just-delivered cucumber-tequila, red salt-encrusted margarita, comes in a glass the shape of the letter ‘Y’ a half-foot tall. Amid the jostling ice, a flostam of cold cucumber nubs.
He keeps his head down. Tries to drop-relax his shoulders, unflinch the unibrow of overt concentration. See exactly where he has landed this Friday, which is — what? — the nearly three-thousandth Friday of his life. He’s getting up there, here, amid the hubbub of the city’s beautiful & pretty people (is he still one or ever was, he ruminates, but who cares but him and not much, but a little).
Dips the crackly tortilla chip, toasted on the premises, into the homemade salsa, chunky with small rectangles of tomato and confetti of slivered cilantro, eats. Since he has time to kill and eating, even though he’s not starving, seems like some kind of vaguely worthy doing. Or distraction. He likes the bowls of limes and avocados in the kitchen on the way to the room for caballeros.
Shouldn’t he be worrying on some awful headline or another, yes, he should, pick one. But the north Ohio evening sun spills like paint the shade of something called antique bronze onto wood tables full of shrimps and mahi-mahi and whatever. Onto the fake barn-wood floor, broken now this sunlight into a spilled bunch of puzzle pieces, squares and parallelograms, tetrahedrons of banana gold.
How far has it come through coldest space, this illumination, what is it, 93 million miles? Broadcast from the molten furnace of a star to land here, right here, in downtown Cleveland, amid young men in flannel-grey suitcoats & unbuttoned white shirts. Their lovely dates hand-brush straw-blond hair cut at an angle of 50 degrees, just enough to shade one eye, wearing a powder-blue dress,
hem slashed at an angle, too. In the current fashion. He should document the scene — an unseen street band down towards Euclid Avenue cranks an amp to life. The 5 p.m. air fills with the smell of mesquite or hickory, something’s cooking somewhere, its smoke turns the air outside misty-grey with its perfume. Take a picture. Fling a .jpeg high into the air, so it catches, so it sticks up there
in Indra’s Net. A snapshot from the front lines of his life. So all his friends, all his followers and frenemies, so that random strangers in Guadalajara and Nome, in Berlin and Walla Walla, can see what’s up with him at this very moment, at the frontier of his odyssey. His updates are open to all, to that multi-tentacled, mysterious, unfathomable, dangerous barbarian, the Public.
His food arrives, in a green ceramic bowl the color of the flesh of muskmelon. Its fragrance of roasted shrimps and melted Jack and Monterey, and chopped Romaine, black beans jumbled with corn and salsa. His dinner another act in the dance of fine fast casual dining in the empire of America, at this moment, the exact hour-and-a-half past the high tide of the empire.
He is not complaining. Since he recalls when you couldn’t get a decent meal to die for if you pointed the green family station wagon an hour any direction, had to settle for little oniony lozenges of bad cowmeat in a white castle beside of a carwash and the local pawn. He is just spilling his attention onto the page, filled by the city’s fountainous abundance, of streaming brilliance, of raw tuna and jicama.
Of lean women or thick, cantilevered on angular high shoes, breasts leading their chests, for the men, its their polished shoes & steepled haircts, if not bald already, by choice, well before their appointed age. These gazelles and well-groomed cheetahs, gliding the savannah of the sidewalk, in search of a gaze and to gaze upon, come to see what’s up with that, who’s out with who, how long will this party last?
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~ douglas imbrogno ~ Cleveland ~ 6.14.13.