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Saturday December 15, 2001, 16:01

You know that guy? That guy who just has one story to tell, that he tells to everyone he sees and everyone meets? Have you ever heard him? Or it? I was standing in the store today, and the man behind the counter is on the phone. He's dressed in tight shiny black pants, torn at the knees. He has on large, black boots and a billowy shirt. His face is pale, slightly marked with acne. His hair is a teased bowl-cut, with a high tuft of hair sticking straight up. The store is in a basement and I had to walk down a rickety flight of stairs to get there. I was standing by the door, flipping through magazines. Agonizing over $3. It was cold out. It was a Saturday in mid-December (that is, it was today) and it had just finally gotten cold.

"... Well, except for the crazy guy who said he had Tourette's Syndrome. Yeah, this guy comes into the store and he's clearly on crack and he's just standing, looking at the magic magazines going 'AUUUUGHHHHHGHHAHGHHH' and scaring all the customers away. So finally I say to him 'Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to make your purchase and leave the store.' My friend Ned's been keeping me company since then."

When the phone rang again, and he recounted the same story, with the same exact words, in the exact same meter, to a brand new person. It was rehearsed. It was a performance. And it was freaky every time he got to the part about the guy standing by the magic magazines screaming. Because I knew what was coming, and I knew that he was going to start screaming, just like the crazy man on crack, and I knew that he was just about on the verge of scaring me out of the store.

I have a story too. It's the one I've been telling people for the past three weeks, in various incarnations, as the story unfurls.

It's a story about a girl, and it's a story that I've not told here yet. Why haven't I? It's a good question, really, and one to which I currently have no answers. It could be something as simple as saying that I don't want to talk about myself here. Too much. I want to talk about the things I see, the things that I encounter as I go through my days. But the truth of the matter is that there's not too much to encounter when you spend your days in front of a computer and your nights in front of another.

As a brief aside, it should be noted that I am eating Saltines and somewhat contemplating the nutritional ramifications of this fact. They are not very deep and so I move on, though the little plastic tube of crackery goodness lingers in the not-so-far reaches of my memory. Perhaps they will come up again.

It's cold today. It's been said before, but it's true. It's cold and I love it. I guess the truth of the matter is that I really love complaining about the cold, but what's there not to love about that? The wind rips through your clothes as if they weren't even there and you walk into stores from the street, feeling the blood running back into your face. Even now, sitting in my apartment, in from the cold, I am shivering. It's finally feeling like winter and I love it. The bell ringers on the street seemed less out of place in this weather, though I still didn't give them any money.

It's cold and the sun is setting on the city. I can't actually see the sunset from here, but I can see the sky. See the bands of colors and the sun sinks into New Jersey, on the other side of the building. Other side of the world it seems. The sun sinks quickly and the lights of the city start twinkling. We call this dusk, right?

So there's this girl. And we met, ever so briefly. Stars and birds followed, with a healthy dose of email and phone calls. This girl is far away from here and I will see her again in a week. She injects a certain sense of, well, bliss, into my life.

I can't write about it for some reason.

But if you meet me on the street, you can bet I'll tell you the story.

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