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A Second Attempt (standard:humor, 4084 words)
Author: AnastasiaAdded: May 10 2005Views/Reads: 1936/1169Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A young man has an interesting walk home from work when he bumps into a stranger unexpectedly.
 



Dusk says goodnight to downtown Portland's skyline as I make my trek
along the waterfront park, an impractical but worthy detour after 
teaching my Tuesday night banjo class. I inhale slowly, breathing in 
the city's pleasant constants—the only constants back home in New York 
were sirens, aggressive cabbies, and the occasional slammed door, 
audible through the thin walls of my tiny apartment above the 
overpriced Taco Stop in Soho. It was hardly enjoyable. But here in 
Portland, as I'm walking along the Waterfront Park, the public 
fountains turn off on cue, as they always do, at not exactly 
ten-thirty. And then the city quiets, as it always does, because 
Portland, unlike New York, is a city that sleeps. I pass the same 
shopping cart woman I always see huddled beneath the Burnside Bridge, 
all hours of the day, wearing her ubiquitous sport coat and muttering a 
vulgar soliloquy that hardly varies from week to week. Without 
stopping, I offer her a friendly nod, and wonder how she can bear to 
wear so much in the August heat, which is virtually inescapable in the 
annual drought. But my eyes wander on, and my mind follows, to the next 
constant: One of the city's many recycling receptacles, adorned with a 
bumper sticker—“Keep our city clean!” I smile to myself at Portland's 
tree-hugging amiability, so profoundly contrasted against New York's 
dine-and-drop mentality. And I realize, I'm content here. Since I've 
moved out here, I haven't felt the sensory overload that accompanies 
life in New York City. No, that's not Portland. Portland is 
uncontaminated. Like a fresh razor, I think to myself, running my hand 
across my emerging beard. 

I begin whistling myself a happy tune as I bask in the idea of reaching
my new Portland living space. I'm looking forward to arriving home, and 
sitting down with my uncooked instant noodles—high in sodium, low in 
essential vitamins and nutrients; but easy on my wallet. Then, maybe 
I'll clean out the cat litter box, and sift through the bills—what's 
the date? Oh, the second. Wasn't I supposed to pay the electric bill 
yesterday? Surely, it's been shut off by now. I sigh and mutter 
profanities to myself, suddenly in a foul mood. All I need is one 
little thing to set me off into a bad mood, but it works the same way 
for putting me in a good mood. I'm that kind of guy. 

But now I'm in a bad mood. I begin walking in long strides, eager to
take care of business so I can get into bed and call it a day. Reaching 
the street corner, I hit the crosswalk button and wait for the walk 
symbol. That's yet another thing that sets Portland apart from New 
York—there are no jaywalkers. This annoys me, in a silly way. I do it 
quite often anyway, ignoring the confused expressions of other people 
waiting to cross. When they see that I've made it safely without being 
ticketed, they always follow precedent, cautiously, but with a certain 
childish keenness in their eyes. It's amusing, really. People are 
crazy. 

I'm steadily power-walking as my brain is inundated with my irrational
opinions on people who don't jaywalk, and before long I find myself in 
downtown Portland, where the city still lingers on the remains of an 
eight-hour work day. My banjo feels heavier as a drizzle sets in and, 
in my current state of mind, urinates on my thoughts. I scowl at the 
few individuals huddled under bus stop enclosures, knowing that I have 
about six more blocks to go and wishing I hadn't taken my usual detour. 
And before long, I'm miserable as all hell and scolding myself inside 
my head for it. Just moments ago, I was whistling a happy tune and 
smiling about this place. Now I'm whining about this long-awaited rain 
and wanting to crawl under my covers and sleep. But really, the rain 
just weighs me down. 

I look up, and in the dimness of the streetlights, I see what appears to
be a bombshell redhead walking toward me from about a block away, 
dressed in swanky night life attire—a short black dress and her hair 
all curled, like a freakin' movie star. I wonder what in the hell she 
is doing out on a Tuesday all dressed up. Is she a prostitute? I've yet 
to see one of those out here. I envision myself walking up to her and 
saying, “Hey, how much?", and then I feel horrible for even imagining 
the situation, because I'm not that kind of guy. Really, I'm not. I'm 
the kind of guy who will hold a door open for a girl and pay for her 
dinner and ticket to the philharmonic and even sing her a song if she 
wants me to, though I guess I don't really let that on. Not when I'm in 
a mood, anyway. 

And while I'm cluttering my line of vision with these thoughts, I bump


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