Sidewalk Episode
Dale Stromberg
H e sat on the sidewalk with a look on his face. The world was too dumb and too slow for him, and he just wanted to sit. So he was sitting there and all the teens were walking by. He knew it was a mistake to sit on the trendy stretch of Telegraph Avenue, he was just asking for some fashion-punk from the suburbs to come up and try to out-cool him, but it was his city so he could sit where he wanted. Most of the teens and the frat boys and the glittery nail-polish girls saw the look on his face and left him alone.
But then this girl walked up and he could tell she was going to hassle him. She was bopping around pretending to be on drugs, waving at strangers and making faces into space, proclaiming some silly phrase now and then for the benefit of the gawking teens.
"Hey look."
"Only in Berzerkley, huh."
Yeah, good one, he thought.
Here she came.
"What's up with you? I guess you're just too cool to smile?"
He just stared at her, trying to use his telepathy or whatever. Wanting her to go away.
"So, like, I'm on this really great acid and stuff, cool huh?"
He wanted to spit on her. All he said was "yeah, cool" and then he looked away. When I look back, he thought, I want you to be going down the street.
She kicked him in a playful way, thinking that he must like the 'crusty but sweet' type of girl. Then to his disgusted horror she plopped down beside him. He had to smile because she sat right where he had been spitting.
She mistook the smile. "See," she said, "I knew I could get you to smile."
"What do you want?"
"What if I kissed you, right now?"
He flipped her off.
She kissed him on the cheek, too quick for him to duck.
"Look, I want you to go away!"
His vehemence startled both of them. She tried to give him a 'what-ev-er' look, but she ended up walking away really fast, swearing a lot to cover up.

First published: May 1997