a: a short descriptive literary sketch
b: a brief incident or scene (as in a play or movie)
Two homeless guys check me out while I wait at the curb. How do I know they’re homeless? – experience. The one wearing a baseball cap and jean jacket asks if I have a buck for the bus. I have been asked so many times for bus money that I play with the idea of offering to escort the asker to the bus station to buy a ticket, just to see what happens. The bus station is only two blocks away. Instead, I say, no, I don’t have anything. They move on. Guilt sets in – not because I didn’t give the panhandlers any money, but because I lied about not having any. Why didn’t I just say “no” without any phony rationale? Then I realize that they knew I was lying but it didn’t matter because they cared only about whether they ended up with any money. Further realization – they lied to me. There was no bus trip in their immediate future. So my guilt disappears.
An unusual looking man appears to be "in charge" of a group of young people. I assume they are from a
My barber, Lalo, has been in business for decades in the same building as one of the city’s largest law firms. He's a solid Colorado man: ex-Marine; family from what we call the Arkansas Valley; one of his daughters works in a Santa Fe museum; used to share in Bronco tickets. Lately he has to be hooked up to an oxygen tank but he comes in every day, keeps his appointments with his loyal customers, and talks about slowing down and how hard it is to say no to one of his regulars. The shoe shine guy, Joe, is older than Lalo or I, but he’s still sharp and in the know. He likes to talk about music, politics, and
One of the Soup Nazi franchises recently opened on the 16th Street Mall. You remember, from Seinfeld? It's actually called The Original Soupman. Looks like it's doing an okay business. It reminded me of the Shoe Shine Rude Guy (Nazi is too mean of a word) who sets up shop at a corner along the same mall. The weathered black man has insulted my shoes more than once. I've heard him shout, "Nice suit, ugly shoes." Or, to women, "Great legs but they need clean shoes." You get the idea. He does more than okay business-wise; at least he always has a queue of amused customers waiting.
During two of my lunchtime walks I've become part of a crowd watching someone's intimate drama play out on a building. One was on the famous Brown Palace Hotel; the other on the roof of a building lining the mall. No one in the crowds hollered "Jump!" No one was hysterical. I'd have to say that the overwhelming emotion was sadness. What could drive a person to the literal edge? Anybody seeing such a thing has to think - how far away am I from this? And one hopes that the answer is - far, far away. I left after a few minutes. I worried that I might see something I could not forget. I never saw anything in the news about anybody jumping so I assume the responders did their job and talked the men down so they could begin their mandatory 72 hours of psychiatric testing.
The hot dog stand outside the post office has a sign that says Coors Field. The stand is five blocks from the baseball stadium. Go figure. The stand also has a sign that says Everything You Order Can Be Taken Inside. I can't decipher that sign. I’ve never had a hot dog from this stand although I’ve heard that they are grilled and very good. I wouldn’t know where to go to eat the dog. I could just walk back to my office, eating. But I won’t.
Sometimes I do lonche at the 20th Street Cafe. At the 20th, they know me because I’ve been coming for years, originally for the beef teriyaki and rice, lately for the fried fish. I’ve seen several waitresses come and go. Now they have a friendly, veteran team; if I wrote about them I might be accused of indulging stereotypes and clichés. They always make me feel welcome and sometimes even missed. Recently I learned that the diner was opened in 1946 by a man who resettled in Denver's Japanese Town after being released from an internment camp.
Another day I might troop all the way to Chelo's where I can get some of the best tamales in the city, no lie. You can buy a dozen or two if you want, as well as empanadas stuffed with fruit and cream cheese. The young man who must be part of the family that owns the place once told me how they had hassles with the Health Department because of the creamy empanadas, so they quit making them for a while. They’re back – try the blueberry.
A couple of weeks ago I stopped for lo mein at this small place inside one of
Nothing is perfect but a June day in Colorado at 78 degrees is close. The softest breeze floats in the air; blazing white snow caps grace serene mountains that mark the Western horizon; a few clouds dot the powder blue sky. You can still get all of this in the heart of the city.
In August, 50,000 delegates (super and regular), protesters, and media types will join me for lunch in downtown Denver when they take a break from the Democratic National Convention. I hope this doesn't mean that I will have to stand in line to get into the 20th.Manuel Ramos - all rights reserved
Celebrating the release of Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature (Bilingual Press, 2008), edited by Daniel Olivas, come join the editor with four of the thirty-four contributors to the anthology: Sandra Ramos O'Briant, Lisa Alvarez, Victorio Barragan and Conrad Romo as they read from their stories. Refreshments will be served.
When: Friday, June 13, 2008
Time: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91101