Saturday, June 02, 2007

Bubbles on Broadway

After the market today, I was driving down Broadway heading to Brooklyn. Just as I crossed Prince Street, a man selling automatic bubble makers stepped into the crosswalk and pointed the plastic pistol into the air.

It was a long, hot, tedious day at the market--the kind where people ask you inane questions all day and then don't listen while you answer them, and thus have to ask you a similarly-worded but nonetheless equivalent question immediately following. For example, take this exchange, which happened no less than three times:
Customer: "Do you have Grade B maple syrup?"

I point to the bottles, jars and tin cans displayed on the table.

Me: "Yes, I have it in all the sizes you see here."

Customer: "Do you have it in this size?"

Me: "Yes."

Customer: "Do you have it in this size?"

Me: "Yes, I have it in all the sizes you see here."
Then there were the fiddleheads, which, by the way, (for the last time,) taste a little like asparagus and a little like an artichoke. They look strange--one of those seldom-eaten vegetables that are purely local, purely seasonal, and which drive the tourists into fits of surprisingly dynamic repulsion. I like selling them, for the most part, but it never fails to surprise me that people are so plainly--so shamelessly--shocked to learn that there is something in the universe that they've never seen or heard of. I can't help but imagine these people at the dawn of time, or witnessing Galileo's revelations. Such rousing unveilings that their crainiums just erupt.

So. Back to this bubble-gun pointed in the air.

I watched as the bubbles began, small glassine spheres drifting first up, then across Prince Street, lifted by the warm subterranean winds of the city. Then the pedestrians, forty--fifty, maybe seventy--of them, stepped off the curb, and walked directly into the peculiar, soapy wave of bubbles, like a school of fish. People reached their hands out, bursting most, but some of them had flown just out of reach. And for that moment--even my windshield was beginning to slick over with dozens of exploded bubbles--we waved our hands in the hair, stretching, smiling, our city-edges sanded off. We were loosened.

Then the light went green and I stepped on the gas.

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