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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

waiting

I hear honking from the balcony. The sound is weak, like one of those little toy cans that you turn on their side that makes the sound of a cow. A trolley bus stands in the middle of the street, blocked by a sedan. No one is in the car. Now a second trolley bus waits behind the first one. They are connected to a web of wires that run along the traffic lights above the streets, and spark sometimes when it rains. 

The black sedan is more than double-parked in an active street. It was left in the only lane the trolleys can use. A woman in a fluorescent orange vest and flip flops comes out of the bus, approaching the car, peering inside. Many of the drivers are women like her. I marvel at their ability to jump from the wheel during snowstorms, when the spring-loaded arms that connect to the wires get disconnected. I see them, in those same sandals whipping ropes into the air to snap things back in place. 
She stands for a moment, then goes back inside to honk some more.

I look down the street, seeing another bus approaching. There is something so allegorical about literally standing in the middle of the street, waiting for someone to correct a wrong.


There are six trolley cars waiting now, all honking the same weak song. There is one modern bus that stands after the black sedan. Old women are creeping out of the stopped trolleys, making their way past the abandoned car and then rumbling away, with their little rolling grocery carts and their drooping knee high stockings.

People are walking up to the black sedan, testing the wheels to see if the parking brake is on. One bus driver takes pictures of the license plates with her cel phone. I wait, for once to see the face of someone responsible, to see if there is an apology.

And then someone does approach the car, keys turning in the door. One of the buses pulls in front of him, blocking his exit and I have a fantasy that they will keep him there until the police arrive. I imagine an old woman whacking her purse against his windows, but nothing happens. I watch the man's sheepish, hunched shoulders as he does not drive off but pulls into an actual parking space instead, leaving the car there and going back down the sidewalk to the floating restaurant that sits on the river, where the waitresses are all in miniskirts and push-up bras, where the wine prices are four times more than they should be, where you can get sushi or steak or some stale, overpriced tiramisu.

Comments

liv said…
Ha, that one was actually funny!

Now please help a girl out here....surely there has been a pork chop or some lamb or delicate little pancakes that have gone through that kitchen lately....but nothing coming this way.
I'm longing for the scent of spices and oils and your unctuous photos of this (not so) minor talent you have for making people's mouths water and tummies growl. Please, a kitchen post?

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