Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I'm taking an observational writing continuing education course just for the sport of it with a friend, Peta. The teacher John Elder is a crack up, a journalist at The Age newspaper. Tonight was our first night and there were 11 people in the class, a very broad range of ages and interests. Our first exercise was to go down to the street and observe someone and write down what you see. Peta and I watched two people next to eachother (a guy and a girl). Here was what I saw:

A 45 year old man started on the stoop of the Night Cat City, a closed bar whose portico looked like a church. He pulled a large forest green wheeled suitcase that looked surprisingly new and clean, considering that his hair was a mess, he was tanned and weathered and had many small scabs on his cheeks.

We walked easily to the corner convenience store and back, returning with a glass bottle of beer in a brown paper bag. He went through a familiar ritual of preparing the beer, rolling down the edges of the bag and crossed the street to throw the cap in a bin. On his way back he looked up and down a young fashionable girl sitting on the stoop. She was well dressed in black and gray but with a red and orange matching wool scarf and hat. [Peta remarked that she was 18 but chain smoked patiently and knowingly like an 80 year old].

He took his place on the top stair of the stoop, up and behind her. He stood so he could watch her without seeming like he was staring. He stood in away from the rain but close enough to protect his luggage if it came to that. He meditated on his cigarette, spent a fair bit of time slowly rubbing his face and hair. When he was done, he flicked his cigarette in a long arc across the sidewalk into the gutter.

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