I was bored and alone just now because Sarah went to see a friend of a friend speak at the Central Public Library. His name is Reihan Salam and he just wrote a book about how the Republican party has lost their way and how they can return to relevance after their latest adventures. I played Risk with him once in New York and he destroyed everyone. If one’s political acumen can be inferred from strength at Risk, then this guy probably has some interesting things to say.
So having nothing to do, I decided to walk around the neighborhood. There was a homeless guy sitting in front of the 7-11 who I’d never seen before. I approached him and asked what he was up to. “Just sitting around,” he said. He told me that he’s gotten into rolling his own cigarettes lately. “It’s a lot cheaper,” he said. “I go through a pack a day of normal cigarettes. When I roll my own, I can make it last for two or three days.” I asked him how many cigarettes that was. “Enough,” he said. He smoked menthols for 20 years, but not anymore. “You can’t smoke those forever,” he said. It was nice to see that he was concerned about his health. “I hear menthols have fiberglass in them,” I said. “Yep,” he said.
After him, I decided I should talk to the woman I see every day who I never talk to. She’s a blond-haired woman who wears a tank top when it’s hot and a a leopard-print fur coat at night. She hangs out in front of the Masonic temple a couple of blocks away from my apartment. She’s homeless, apparently, but you would never assume so if you saw her walking around, because she looks almost 100% normal. I walk past her several times I day when I’m going to and from my office, and I’ve always been mystified by her.
“I walk past you five times a day and I’ve never introduced myself,” I said. “I’m Jeffrey.”
Her name is Joyce. She sells drawings. She always has a selection of drawings displayed on the steps in front of the Masonic temple. She holds them down with rocks. I looked at her drawings about a year ago, and they’ve gotten significantly better since then. Proof that one can learn how to draw with ample time to practice.
While I was talking to her, a man walked up and said, “I have $20 and I want to buy some drawings.” I hung out while she showed him all her art. He picked two drawings from the pack. I pointed out the ones I liked and tried to convince him to buy those, but he wasn’t interested. He knew what he wanted. “I’ll take those,” he said, pointing to a picture of a baby with a painter’s palate slung around his neck and a crumpled drawing of a guy in a jester’s costume. “Here, take one of these, too,” she said, handing him what looked to be a self-portrait from her younger days. He walked away with his three drawings.
“Well, I guess I’ll take off, too,” I said. She tried to give me another version of the self-portrait that she had in her pack, but I told her to keep it for a paying customer. “I’ll be back to buy one of those,” I said, then walked back to my apartment. I’m really curious to see if she remembers me the next time I see her, which will be tomorrow, because I see her several times a day.