Walking down Nassau Street last Wednesday towards my home on Bank Street, I passed a tall young man wearing short shorts and speaking French to a shorter young man wearing short shorts. The tall man had a red tote bag slung over his shoulder. I had no choice but to follow him.
I turned around and kept a pace about 50 or 60 feet behind him. He and his friend or partner walked down into Palmer Square and into the Bent Spoon. I approached theice cream shop but decided not to follow them inside—I didn’t have any cash and I didn’t want to be too obvious. So I went next door into the olive oil shop.
There I bided my time by tasting the olive oils free for sampling. Out of the glossy steel dispenser labeled “Chipotle,” a viscous, clear, red liquid oozed into my small plastic cup. I took a sip—maybe my first time drinking olive oil all by itself. It was spicier than expected.
I left the olive oil shop and passed the Bent Spoon—the French man with the red tote bag and his friend were still inside. I kept walking. In the next shop, I glimpsed a pair of red lace underpants in the window. I went inside to find only one brand that sold red underpants—there was almost no red lingerie in the store. I asked the sales clerk why this was the case. She answered that most customers thought of red lingerie as tacky. As soon as she said this I knew the shop had nothing to offer me.
I went back outside and saw the two French men sitting at a table in the center of the square, eating their ice cream. Still keeping an eye on them, I went into the cheese shop further into the square. Red labels: Ski queen gjetost cheese, chimay, ossauiraty, medjool dates. Foods: bloody beetroot ketchup, pasta sauce al basilico, sweet raspberry sauce, red bell pepper vinegar, chorizo, prosciutto, wild black cherries in syrup, and creamy tomato soup. During my observations the man behind the counter handed me samples of cheese smeared thickly on squares of wax paper. Following the French man had given me not only free olive oil but free cheese.
I returned to the square and saw the French man with the red tote bag and his friend were still there. I went into the Lindt store where unfortunately nothing was free. Still, I could not prevent myself from buying a few chocolates in red wrappers—Mozart kugeln and squares of Lindt milkschokolade.
I’m not sure if I was hungry or if the color red makes me so. Perhaps it is also a lucrative color choice in design. While walking, I noticed the small, red Levi’s label on a woman’s denim shorts. I know that red paintings sell well. Babies, with their foggy, develop-
ing eyesight are drawn to the color red. And men are more likely to pay attention to women wearing red.
Back outdoors I saw the French man and his friend were still there. Red tote bag in sight. I crossed to the other side of the square, and along the way some trees and bushes briefly obscured my view of them. I emerged from my path and looked over to the table where they had been sitting.
They were gone.
I stopped by Labyrinth on the way back to my studio in 185 Nassau, which I always do when I have some spare time and I find myself on Nassau Street.
20th century conflicts and crises: Hitler, Mao, Chang Kai Shek, Putin, Lenin (Trotsky was orange), Hiroshima, genocide, Stalin, Nazis, Russia, Tibet, Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Religion: The Vatican, faith, Richard the Lionheart, Crusaders, Satan.
Morality: would you kill the fat man, orientation and judgment in hermeneutics, philosophy for militants, altruism.
Food: Rose hips on a kitchen table, Italian family cooking, authentic Mexican cooking.
Sex: erotic comics, the diary of a teenage girl.