From the collection Le Midwest -- an ode to the noble suburbanite, in memory of the oblivious calm before a great storm in St. Louis, Missouri.
Global Warming and the Little City Man
The recent caprice of the weather in his city pleased him. Dark clouds became sunny skies within moments, suddenly raindrops appeared and became big splashes and hail. His city became a place less knowable and less known and less mundane, classically Midwestern, banal, prosaic, boring.
He began to carry an umbrella in his bag, considering himself akin to a Londoner. He waded through rushing water to reach his car, considering himself akin to a brave Mumbaikar. When his girlfriend chose for herself a pair of Hunter Wellingtons at Nordstrom, which the Bosnian salesman assured her were tres chic, he too eagerly nodded his approval, envisioning them languidly trolling the Delmar record shops like a set of smart and slightly sad Portlandians. When the wind blew cool, cold that June, he hugged her close and laughed, “Remember San Francisco?” When that wind led to rain and a sticky humidity, he was reminded of Singapore’s hot, wet, delicious dewiness and they went for Chinese in a part of town that was not quite a Chinatown but had enough dumplings and spicy, slithery noodles with shrimp for him to nearly recreate that exotic weekend layover.
The weather continued on, keeping his spirits up. His city had become for him somehow liberal and with-it and changeable and thrilling. At a stoplight, he felt gladdened by the throngs crossing Brentwood to The Galleria -- this young, urban, in-touch crowd had chosen the Metro for their journey into the hub. The fedoras and mohawks of several weekend subversives bobbed above a crowd which, he supposed, included North County blacks with huge disposable incomes and university students -- some were foreign exchange and some likely Korean-Americans -- and he marveled at this sweaty Babylon, priding his city for playing gracious host to such raw diversity.
Gas was up and bicycles and scooters crowded the road beside his car. Amsterdam!
He stepped into a mall that was positively warm and fancied himself shopping in Dubai, not knowing that oil money keeps Middle-Eastern shopping centers very chilly.
He nodded a whattup to a homeless man at the highway exit and asked his girlfriend, for the second time that week, “Remember San Francisco?” She dignified him by pretending not to hear. They gained speed and he kept his window lowered despite the drizzle: Highway 40 had become California 101 and the moisture on his fingertips, ocean spray.