Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Stuffed pittas

They're having one of those conversations that are designed to be overheard.
"I just don't hear him talk about grassroots activism. Where are the issues? After twenty years in this game I don't feel so hopeful."
The game is social consciousness - or perhaps, a devil whispers, performative smugness - and the player they are talking about the great He, Obama. His handsome face smiles out of every window in our Brooklyn neighborhood, advertising special lunch deals and cut-price sales racks, and his Dreams of My Father is propping up our three-legged coffee table.

We arrived in New York the day before He was inaugerated. In Times Square in the snow I stood behind a middle-aged woman who was scratching a pen across a grubby notebook. It looked like a child's angry scrawling, so I inched backwards, not wanting to catch her particular strain of mad. As the whooping and pantomime booing gathered force, I glanced again at the woman's pad and saw a starkly rendered line drawing of the crowd. There are lots of crazies in New York, but probably she wasn't one of them.

Back in the back room of Stuffed Pittas, a grey-haired woman with a sharp nose was cross-examiner her neighbour.
"So you were working in Chicago for ten years? I'm amazed our paths never crossed... What organization did you work for again?"
"Well I did youth work, outreach work... all kinds of things. And I was in California for a while. All over really."
To me and the sharp-nosed woman, it sounds like he's lying, although I'm sure he isn't.

Across the room we speculate on who the group are, with their right-on mix of age and ethnicity, and their cloying earnestness. I plump for a singles' evening, a Guardian Soulmates social, stripped of all irony and stuffing its face on babaganush. I hear in New York they have the Brainiacs Dating Club. There are no formal entry requirements - not even an IQ test - which I find strangely worrying.

No comments:

Post a Comment