Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stoop settin'

One of the great pleasures of life in Reservoir Hill is settin' a piece out on the marble stoop out front. Though it's been hot I find it irresistible to take a stack of books and a glass of wine out there for a while each day.

Sometimes I can get a good 45 minutes of reading in, interrupted only occasionally by the thumping bass of a car stereo passing by, ensconced menacingly by deep tinted windows and set atop tight rims. In the afternoons I can sit sometimes without seeing any non-vehicular movement, aside from the scuttling of a blowing black plastic bag from the Korean-owned market up the street. The proprietor always asks if you want a bag, and bruthas always say "yes," and then they take their soda or tea out the bag right outside the front door and drop the bag on the sidewalk.

Today I was reading short stories by William Maxwell and Tim rolled up shirtless and looking for my neighbor, who mentors some of the troubled youth from the 'hood. I told Tim Mr. E was at church and we chatted a while about the pool up at Dru Hill, and fishing, which is Tim's new passion. He likes to take a rudimentary pole Mr. E gave him down the Harbor, where he catches and releases a variety of small fish with a high tolerance for poisoned water. Tim has one of those hilarious plastic gold grills the kids wear on their upper teeth; his has "Thug" spelled out in ornate cursive, with tiny paste diamonds for highlights. Tim always asks me what I'm reading, and the reasons: "Why you like them books?" Today after the requisite book chat he asked me how I got my biceps, and I showed him how to do different types of pushups on the filthy sidewalk.

About 20 minutes later I was packing up to head inside when Rodney hailed me from across the street. Shirtless like Tim, but a few years older, Rodney is a high-school drop-out with long dreads and crazy tats up and down his chest and arms. He's of a physical type I know from my days at a redneck high school, despite his blackness: he's 6'1", with a size 25 waist but broad ropy Phelpsesque shoulders full of wiry muscle. In my experience these are the guys you least want to fight, despite the fact they look scrawny in shirts, because they have long reach and they pack a whollop. Rodney is trying to get his GRE and he often asks for help with Geometry. Today he wanted some packets or stories about "them days with knights and Fate, when they said Thou and shit." We talked for a while about Fate and what it means and what is interesting about the idea. I don't know that I have anything for him, but I think I might hook him up with the Lloyd Alexander Taran stories or something.

I'm considering a walk down to Artscape today, but the last couple of years I really didn't dig that scene at all (outside of some good live music). The vendors have been less interesting, real "art" is harder to come by, and even the food was less than impressive last year. But Toubab Krewe is playing (for 30 minutes only!) at 3:30; that might be worth the hike.

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