On Friday, I had the day off work, and I had couple of errands to run. Nothing too major--I just had to cash a couple of paychecks, then use the cash to pay my rent and my electric bill. Simple.
So I set off for the grocery store. There was an old woman in front of me, maybe 65 years old, but hit pretty hard by life. She was maybe five feet tall and at best she weighed 90 pounds. She had an oxygen tank with her, hanging from a sling around her shoulder. Her skin had taken on that old-person quality--translucent and thin, with networks of bluish veins plainly visible. It would have the texture of cold wet silk, if you were inclined to touch it. She was meekly trying to catch the attention of the man behind the glass partition, who was working to repair the money-order printer. "Sir...sir...sir," she muttered weakly, trying her best to peek over the countertop. She had a pretty ghetto, rail-thin nurse with her, who took time from scolding her two children to caw "he tryin to fix that thang," at her patient. Finally, the man behind the counter finished repairing the printer, handed the woman two money orders, and the four of them made their way out of my life, hopefully forever.
While all this was going on, I took some time to look around. In the grocery line behind me, a guy was checking out. Older, wearing a t-shirt and cargo shorts. Baseball cap with long stringy hair hanging down. Moustache. He had a fanny pack on, cinched so tight around his gut it looked like someone had tied a piece of string around a sack of meal. Not terribly strange, true, but for the fact that he was wearing one of those weird claw-ring things that Ozzy Osbourne and Alan Moore wear.
I managed to cash only one paycheck: the larger one was over $400, and the store would not cash it, so I had no choice but to take my business to the liquor store. This was a little annoying, but so be it.
At the liquor store, as I was paying my electric bill, one of the employees came walking by. "Did you hear about Michael, that used to date Susan, when she lived next door to you?" he asked the clerk who was attending me. "No," she replied. "He killed hisself last night." "Oh my gawwwd," she said. "Yep. Hung hisself with a chain." And then he went right on by, back to work.
I finished up my business and turned to go, only to come face to face with an old man who looked sort of like a combination of Murderface from Metalocalypse and Captain Beefheart, only with long Willie Nelson-style braids. Right behind him was a youngish white guy with a sort of Kurt Cobain/grunge rock hairdo, ratty face, and ragged soul patch. He had a rather--ahem--effeminate walk, and was wearing a ripped-up red muscle shirt and cutoffs that were riddled with holes. Sticking up a good four or five inches from the waist of his pants was a leopard-print thong.
These nightmarish images still fresh in my mind, I made my way outside to my car, where I was counting and arranging my money. I looked over to my left and saw a youngish woman in a Statue of Liberty costume adjusting her breasts in her bra while smoking and playfully slap-fighting with a tow-truck driver. A few minutes later she was texting on her cellphone and disinterestedly waving to traffic while picking a wedgie out of her ass.
And I thought to myself, what a wonderful world...
Columbia University Magazine
1 week ago