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Or, had the precise terms for Baudelaire’s leisurely metropolitan stroller-cum-observer and The Catcher in the Rye‘s free-flowing narrative mode exuded less enigma, ‘Walking down the street: a list of things seen and thought about’.
Down the street I go.
Uneven pavement: the human skin (birth marks, deformities, blotches, spots and dots), success, life, the colour of elephants, scrapped knees, summer heat, pebbles and dryness.
An elderly Greek lady: hearty home-cooked meals, the laughter of boisterous grandchildren at play, immigration, old photographs gathering dust, early morning bus rides, flowers at the cemetery, gold jewellery begging to be polished.
Oranges on display at the fruit market: something to throw at your arch nemesis; action movie sequences involving white men on motorbikes and confused people of colour; the rough texture of a Cézanne.
Cars: destination, rage, modernity.
My family’s Chinese restaurant: familiarity, home, mother.
Asian shop signs: age, haste (waste?), and money; Cantonese BBQ meat hanging in the window, glazed and dripping sauce into oily silver trays below; a steamy bowl of Vietnamese pho.
Butchery: Babe, bacon, pink, rawness, blood and cartilage, rubber boots, wet tiles, cha-ching, thank you, next!
Traffic lights: dusk-lit skies, grey suits, vacant stares.
Café: chocolate brown, the inevitability of stale cake (‘It’s all fresh!’ – the shop girl), cigarette smoke, friends and lovers wiling the day away, the trusty ch-ch-chUAAAA of the milk steamer and the resolute BANG BANG of used ground coffee being emptied, muffled music and ice cubes jingling against glass, lipstick stains on napkins, crumbs and spillage.
Liquor store: ID card (1991!), old men in tatty shirts, filthy motel rooms, vintage porno mags, the pungent odour of drunkards’ piss (why the fuck must it linger for days?), the queue at Centrelink, sweat stains…the promise of gin and momentary relief from All That Is Going Wrong (don’t).
I cross the street and enter grease, fatty patties, sodium galore, glaringly cheesy 50s Americana and pimply teenagers. They call it Hungry Jack’s. At this point we must part our ways, reader, for *Yoda voice* trash my body, I shall.