I feel pretty indifferent about sunshine. I would sometimes go so far as to say I dislike it. I'm not a dreary lass by any means, I just like clouds better. But living in Seattle, you feel guilty if you don’t go outside when the sun comes out. You feel worse than guilty. You feel like a criminal. You feel like all your friends have x-ray vision, and they will catch you if you hide out in an air-conditioned library.
So yesterday I went downtown to the waterfront, out of embarrassed guilt over my maggot white legs and shoulders. It was only 10AM, but tourists were already thronging around Pike Place Market. I sat on the grass with Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace, which is on a required reading list I’m tackling right now. It took about thirty seconds for my attention to wander. At the edge of the grass, a middle-aged man steered his motorized wheelchair down the sidewalk, past a juggler and tourists wearing fanny packs. (I cannot STAND fanny packs.) Printed on the man’s t-shirt were the words: “Dysfunctional Veteran. Leave Me Alone.” A longhaired South American man strummed his charango nearby. A woman with a voice as large as her body bellowed at those of us sitting on the grass, apparently on behalf of the juggler. “PAY TWO DOLLARS OR CLOSE YOUR FUCKING EYES, ‘CUZ HE’S TRYING TO EARN A LIVING!” No one closed their eyes, and no one paid two dollars.
Off to my right, a homeless man had just taken off his shirt. A few minutes later, he managed to corner a tourist. He needed a captive audience for his rant about greedy bankers and Bill Gates. The tourist smiled politely at first, but by the tenth time Bill’s name was mentioned, the smile had evaporated. At last, the tourist braved escape, and the homeless man turned up the volume, just to make sure the tourist could still hear him over the widening distance between them. “Thank you GOD and thank you Bill!” the homeless man yelled. The tourist feigned deafness, and sat down in the grass next to his wife and children, all wearing fanny packs.
To my left, a vendor was selling kettle corn, and its aroma mingled with that of marijuana smoke in the air. A child begged her father for some kettle corn and got it. She dropped pieces of it near my feet when she walked by, gobbling handfuls. A little finch landed by my shoe and tried to eat what the girl had dropped, but the pieces were almost as big as the finch’s head. It looked up at me with anime-pathetic eyes, like I used to do to my mom when I wanted her to cut my pork chops. I slowly stretched my hand out toward a piece of kettle corn. As I began to crumble it into smaller portions, the finch suddenly decided I was an ax murderer, and it flew off as wildly as if I’d tried to smash it with a club.
Oh, happy summer days!