Bourgeois Pig (R)

Yesterday I was at the Bourgeois Pig(R) Cafe, where we were married, and I overheard two girls reading from Chicago guidebooks, on and on about Al Capone and other gangsters. The Pig is around the corner from the Biograph Theater, where John Dillinger was gunned down by the FBI in 1934. Then the girls started conversing, and so softly I couldn't tell if it was English. Then I was pretty sure it was Dutch, and I wanted to ask them but I didn't and then they left. I wanted to be a Friendly American in an Old Building in a New City. Next two graduating music majors sat at the table. One was studying German and had a slight accent I couldn't place. They were talking about the future: I'm going to wash windows at stoplights like gypsies do, she said. The guy said: If music doesn't work out I'm going to work in the airline industry. He loves to fly. It's been a long time since I've met (OK, we didn't exactly meet) someone who loves to fly. The girl said it was dangerous but he said it wasn't, and besides, he could get a job on the ground.

He asked the girl when she had come to the US and she said 12 years ago, when she was 13. I imagined she was from Bosnia, then. But I don't know.

The attraction of eavesdropping--what is private becomes public. The image of a person lying across the eaves to hear what's being said on the street below, or inside. Eavesdropping is the closest I get to reading minds. I'm one of those people who has the desire to be like Sherlock Holmes or Henry Higgins (both fictional characters, of course), to be able to discern so much about a person from voice and subtle characteristics that only you can pick up.

At another table a slight kid was talking to a more substantial and older man, probably a professor, about resurrection and such. I don't believe in hell, the kid said. I think souls go off into the other world and see each other and say hi.

It reminded me of why I liked teaching gifted high school students at WRU in the summer. I remember one Saturday night as we were standing in line to get into a dance sponsored by the program, a kid said to me, I don't know if I really believe in God.

At a certain age, everything is important, everything is open. And then after some years have passed--saying certain things make you sound naive.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's too bad that saying certain things -- things about your philosophical ponderings and wonderings -- makes you sound naive past a certain age. Wouldn't it be nice if more grownups allowed themeslves to be a little unsure, rather than to insist, emphatically and not all that ingenuously, like Christopher Hitchens?

Anonymous said...

if you have time on the 16th, check out the sing to live community chorus, a choir founded by a breast-cancer survivor and for survivors and those who support them. www.singtolive.org