Living in a state of constant amazement.

Tag: people

Martinis in Tumblers

Poppy flower in a field, Istria, Croatia

Martinis in tumblers and everything’s all wrong.
Classless ashes on ash wood floors,
We were closing and opening doors
And never going anywhere.

I swear, she stares, glares;
Eyes that I love as much as my own
and everything’s all wrong.

Watching at the Coffee

(former) Café Flores, Zagreb, Croatia

I’m watching the people, having my coffee and watching the people. It’s what you do. You sit, smoke your cigarette slowly letting most of it burn away between intermittent inhales and sip your coffee, also slowly, demonstrating to the world watching you, sit and sip, that you have time, time in the afternoon to do so. And you watch the people, the tall ones, the short ones, the fat and skinny, old and young, dressed to impress, or for work, or as if it was an afterthought altogether, you watch as they walk by. It’s what everyone does when it’s sunny, when it’s gray, day or night, everyday.

Among the overdressed, dressed to be seen, tall skinny, jeaned and heeled, booted and t-shirted, phone attached business cafe casual, walking or sitting; are the others in between who work more to be seen but are inevitably harder to see.

A very old man in a gray overcoat and hat made his rounds at the cafe with a small ceramic candy dish in his hand asking for money. Almost invisible, to almost everyone; except for the woman behind him waiting to pimp her baby to the same string of café coffee sipping customers. I saw her. She eyed him with the contempt of someone who feels encroached upon as if begging pity were territorial. She watched, then moved on knowing that she would do better to get ahead of the old guy at the next café since there’s only so much to expect from café customers, best to get there first.

I watched him. He wasn’t typical, dressed as best he could, hair neat, hat straight, jacket, overcoat, old, tired, walking slowly but standing straight, clear eyed. As he went from one table to the next looking at the customers I wondered what I would do when he got to me. Then he answered my question.

At the next table, a group of four business casual, late after lunch coffee, meeting-discussing-something-important forty-somethings gave him a bit of change, a small bit, maybe ten Lipa, nothing, from the change on their table. The old man looked in the ceramic candy dish at the coin and a look of dignity and contempt came over his face, a look that said ‘I am old and poor. My world was different than yours and these are my circumstances. Yes, I am asking you for money but this, this single coin is not worth the effort I’ll have to exert to carry it. From you it is an insult, to my age and to what I’ve seen that came before you.’ With a wave of his hand he added without saying a word, ‘For you I prefer to remain invisible.’ Slowly, arthritically , he removed the ten Lipa coin from his ceramic dish and placed it on the table with an exaggerated flourish, firmly deliberately, resulting in a nicely audible bronze against wood click, and dismissed them.

He didn’t come to my table after that. Instead he haltingly pushed forward to the next cafe, likely taking his place behind the baby pimping woman with the evil eyes. I finished my coffee and thought about the things I needed to buy at the market.

On my way home, dodging style conscious bag toting shoppers looking for the names they know on shop windows, and various young and old, smoking, walking, hurried and slow, I passed a woman sitting in front of a name-you-know lingerie shop with her left pant leg rolled up revealing a prosthesis, an outstretched hand and upward looking, searching eyes. I see her from time to time.

Beyond her and ahead of me, working towards the next café I see the old man again and I think about dignity and food, and what he’s seen that I can’t imagine, and walking around everyday missing someones and somethings, and asking for coins, and old, old eyes, old hands. I gave him a pocket full and some paper for my thoughts and ignorance. 

Our attachment to our dogs is not a complete success

I love our dogs. They are my best friends. Dogs are better than people. These are things I think. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

It seems dogs are more loved and revered than ever. I find stories and articles about dogs every day in all sorts of media. Scientific: Do dogs love us? Do they think? What do they think? How did we “domesticate” them? Emotional: Dog saves woman from cougar. Dog food company sends condolences and flowers after dog’s passing. Dog visits former caretaker’s grave site every day. Dog takes bus to city on their own.

There’s a burgeoning industry around dog ownership. It’s been ‘burgeoning’ for a while now. There are endless indispensable accessories. (Note: One of our dogs has 3 sets of shoes that we used to protect his feet when he had a serious pad and nail condition.) Both of our dogs have rain coats, multiple harnesses, entire cupboards full of treats and toys… And why not? Some of these things are really helpful and we love our dogs.

I wonder though, do we love our dogs too much? Do we love them more than we love other people? Have we anthropomorphized our dogs to the point of withdrawing or re-appropriating feelings that we should have for each other? Our dogs, who love us unconditionally we’re told, who never hold grudges, who trust us, who won’t betray or plot against us, who will never lie to us, who would gladly die for us, are they now the repository for feelings we formerly had for each other, our neighbors, coworkers, peers, and friends?

Relying on media which wholly profits from all that is scandalous in human character makes us wary. We are compelled to be cautious, check trust, question loyalty, stay vigilant for betrayal and watchful for deceit. Around people, we withhold. But it is our nature not to and our feelings need an outlet. Our dogs.

The unconditional love that we have convinced ourselves that we receive from our dogs is a cool relief from the wariness that we have been told to, and now must, retain for each other. It is what gives us the freedom to love them, unconditionally. Somehow though, it doesn’t seem quite right to have elevated our dogs into a position of having better moral character than us. Like, if only we (other people because I’m fine) were as true as our dogs, how much better the world would be… Sad. Still, I love my dogs and they are better people than my neighbors. Would I be a better person if I didn’t feel that way? Probably.

Disclaimer: I know not everyone loves dogs. It’s okay.

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