The world is loud around me. Sirens, those that scream in alarm and others that beckon to passers-by, charmers and the charmed, disaffected and misdirected, a young boy wearing a long-sleeved, orange, polo-type shirt with thin, horizontal brown stripes the same shade as his corduroy pants unwittingly greets the hunter green, metal table with great enthusiasm using his forehead. His mother consoles her crying toddler, her antidote comes in the form of stories whispered for his ears only as he settles into her lap. The unmistakeable diesel engine of a semi truck still seems unbelievable on city streets already choking with vehicles. A well-fed bumblebee hovers near the overgrown ivy and a well-fed pigeon looks on while Robert Smith promises to “run away with you, run away with you” through speakers a few feet away. [Synthesizer interlude.] Women adorn their newly tanned bodies with dresses of many colors and varying hemlines above the knee as a full-bodied salutation to Spring. A few are faithful to their boots even as traces of summer hover in the air; are they nostalgic for winter, eager for autumn, or simply refusing to be bound by season or climate in their choice of footwear? (The same sort who would be caught dead in open-toed, barely there, foot coverings amidst a cityscape coated in white.) Backpacks are suddenly everywhere, installed onto the backs of skateboarders, world travelers, and carriage pushers. The woman with the NSFW tank top nearly avoids a collision with a man whose tee shirt would make Ozzy blush. Tea drinkers chat with coffee sippers and the lad carrying the Poland Spring water bottle sidles up to women pedaling an offer to try a new spa on 5th Avenue at 80% off the retail price. Perhaps he would be more successful if he wasn’t wearing a backpack.
This is not L.A., I think as the young man with the dark, starched blue jeans seated at the table in front of me folds up his copy of the New York Times before answering a call on his mobile phone. Il parle en francais et il attend son ami. Aussi, il est fatigue et il a faim. Me, too, I realize and promptly recommit to doubling my French practice so that I can eavesdrop more effectively.) This is not L.A. because unlike that west coast metropolis, the people here don’t act like characters. As Apple dwellers, character is simply part of the job description.