Sunday, October 16, 2016


I still haven't gotten used to dog droppings in the business district.

Well, true, every district is the business district, so I guess that means that crap is a universal commodity.

And I'm not entirely sure that they're all dog droppings. Men still urinate in any old corner that calls to them. Boys too. And I once came around a corner to see a man in front of a restaurant rising from a squatting position while pulling up his pants. I know that he was pulling up his pants because he was pulling up his pants and because I could see his peepee, which you don't see when a guy already has his pants up, which he didn't.

That was enough proof for me.

I didn't go over to conduct an investigation about what exactly his mission had been, though I can guess, which is where the comment about poop types came from.

Not cats though. Cats don't go out. They stay inside the walls of their home territories, so it's dogs or humans, I'm guessing, but mostly dogs. Who do a bang-up job of keeping the sidewalks supplied with shit.

Never the streets. Only the sidewalks.

Maybe the streets are too dusty.

I don't know. But I'd probably try there first, if I was to do that, but not having done it, I don't know the relative advantages and disadvantages, so let's give it to the dogs. They know more than I do about where to crap and why to crap there, and it's my job to deal with it. Which I do.

Which invalidates my opening statement, because I deal with it, by watching for it, and by walking around it. So in that sense I've gotten used to it.

Maybe I should have said that I haven't gotten to like it, and don't expect that I ever will, but I'm used to dealing with it, which is sort of one small step toward becoming someone who belongs here. In a way. Though I'll never fit in. I know that. I can't help it.

I'm like a rat in that respect. I've seen a few rats around here, and we have some things in common.

Except that most rats that I've seen have been dead. We don't have that in common. OK, fine. Remove one more point for inconsistency.

But one thing that rats and I do share is that we all prefer to be invisible. Think about it. How many rats have you seen today?

Not that many, right?

Same as yesterday? Same as forever? That's my goal. I want to be that invisible. It just feels better. For me. I don't care about you. Go ahead and be whatever you want to be, and I'll be invisible, thanks. It's my natural cozy-zone, same as a rat's.

Whenever I say this, someone asks me what I would do if I was invisible. Just watch me do something, then imagine that I wasn't there, and you've got it. Stupid question. Being invisible would be like being able to punch holes in buildings with my fist. If I could to punch holes in buildings with my fist, then I would to punch holes in buildings with my fist. Duh?

If I was invisible then the thing I would do would be being invisible. Go ahead and extrapolate that up to the period in the previous sentence and you have it. That's it. Period.

So one day I saw a rat appear before my eyes. This does not happen often. In daylight no less. Just after lunch.

Rat came out of a house, under the big wide door in the front wall, ran across the sidewalk and out into the street, then turned to the right and ran in my direction along the street until it saw me. Oh-oh. Caught being visible. Stalemate. Couldn't go forward, couldn't go back. I stood and watched the motionless rat. The motionless rat stood and watched the motionless me. Then I decided to move a little, or maybe I whistled softly, and the rat bolted (once again in my direction) to a hole in the street along the curb, and scuttled into the hole. Done — invisible again.

That was a couple of years ago.

A few months ago I saw another day-rat on a busy street. Most rats that I've seen in daylight on busy streets here have been dead, and tended to be somewhat flat. I don't have the expertise to tell if they were flattened before or after death, but the results are similar: flatness, and being dead.

This other rat wasn't either dead or flat, but running, again in my direction. Running in the gutter, like all getout. Flat out, you could say. Pedal to the metal. All four on the floor. Truckin. A fast rat.

I'm a rat magnet. I stopped to watch. I watched as it came at me, watched as it passed me, watched as it continued to run like a scared rat farther down the street, until it came to a curb cut. Whereupon it veered left, crossed the sidewalk, and went into a shop. Shops here have big doors, often as wide as garage doors back in the U.S., and they are always wide open. This one was. Both wide and open, and now the shop had its own rat.

That's about it. About all I know. One young woman stopped as the rat came her way, and watched it cross in front of her and enter the shop, but no one else seemed to see it, or care if they did see it. No one seemed to see me watching, so that was nice. Made me feel cozy and invisible, which is how I'd like to feel all the time, but it's hard to pull off.

Somehow it almost feels like I've got it down, here, more than in the U.S., even though I stand out here like a burning bush in a wine shop. If that doesn't work, use whatever metaphor for incongruity that seems to work for you, but no one much around here seems to notice me. Maybe that's one reason I like it so much, me and the rats.