Bodega Doldrums Update

Set Flat in the Flour of God's Antique Art Machine


each table has a white porcelain vase with a plastic yellow flower in it. they’ve got water in them so the plastic yellow flowers don’t feel like you’re ostracizing them, ingesting coffee like you do. there are pastries everywhere and a general feeling of sad femininity; that over-grown girlish femininity that somehow never blossomed.

the chairs in there were donated by unfeeling kindergarteners, drunk with manners and obsessed with victorian gates.

we were a unit; this table, this chair, this flower, this vase, this cup of coffee and me; just an unstable chemistry experiment sweating for balance and unremarkably pressing on.

the scene was non-combustible until I arrived and rendered all of us tragically, hopelessly out of place.

I was there because bortnick’s had closed. that was where I would’ve been. with no where else to turn I fell in here. I was trying to finish a rap song I had been working on at the time called “the most handsomest boy in the grocery store.” I had my notepad with me and just as I finished the verse:

pardon me peggy I’d love to grab those
tender with splendor / arousing avocados
no, I’m here by myself / they call me a lonah’
watchin’ yo hips we traverse the chips
lockin’ eyes by the two liter soda
sale on tombstone / heat things up at home
lookin’ fine in aisle nine
winked at cindy / swiped a comb

my wrist knocked the white vase off the table, shattering on the floor like a jar of pasta sauce or a heartbroken girl in a dress with a new driver‘s license.


contorting myself towards the mess, I took the plastic yellow flower from the puddle and the broken pieces. that little plastic flower -- it wasn’t dehydrated, it was embarrassed -- we ignored its precious nudging, we were so worried about ourselves. it was embarrassed because we were right not to worry -- until then I had no idea how humiliating it was to be a flower that never wilts or feels thirsty; I’d simply never been so far out of place to subject myself to that kind of information.

wrapped into this little chair like the answer to a maze, I presented the flower like a captive presents his gun: full of vague regret and publicity. a dozen marble eyes slithered towards me like thin streams of gasoline towards the catastrophe of my plastic flower -- my exposed fraudulent flower, doomed to imitate beauty, not even biodegradable. the onlookers were hoping to find something flammable in the climax of the hunt. absorbing the circumference of my destruction and trying to gauge the natural response.

an elderly woman wearing a t-shirt with a cartoon frog using a pencil on it cleared her throat in such a way as if to scold me vaguely, beyond the terms of grammatical logic. another customer, with a mouth full of cupcake, said “mmhmmm” as if to agree with the woman who cleared her throat.

“I didn’t kill it”

the matron huffed off smiling with all the supernatural condescension of a possessed porcelain doll in an empty basement. her enormous posterior bubbling along like two gossipy girlfriends.

a young mother in khaki ham bottoms peeked out from behind a computer monitor, indifferent, like a native. she smiled at me through those pools in the middle of the egyptian bicycle tracks of her cheeks, “you look wrong boy.” and squirted me in the eyes with aloe vera. everyone applauded.

I wiped my face and met her gaze without betraying the tremors in my chest to rattle the table. her face floated like a mirage in a gelatinous rhythm above the backdrop of doily inspired wallpaper… or the witch’s mirror in snow white… or a plumbing disaster’s paper towel… or the dress that alice wore. kind of swirling above everything else in the manner of oil and vinegar.

and her smile recalled the cheshire cat’s smile… and I was alice! I was enormous alice! causing scenes, stuck in a chair, surrounded by cakes, rattling off apologies in a strange and unforgiving world.

I tried to explain the whole thing about bornick’s and “the most handsomest boy in the grocery store” and my open mic freestyle rap reputation but then the matron returned with a broom and shoo’ed me onto the sidewalk like a pile of peanut shells. “get! get!“ and I took off down the sidewalk with that little flower tucked smartly behind my ear.