The shop window on Wisconsin Avenue is empty. Inside the glass room is a door that leads to the darkness. The combination of this darkness door, the street lights reflected in the glass and the promise that the blank space will be filled up one day again, instills in me a wild excitement. Truly!
Five moments of learning from the past week at the Pfister.
A kid from Chicago comes to my typewriter and gawks. I allow him to type whatever he wants:
“HAa Liamisthe greatest Pat and Kerianne suck and wish they could do this hahah”
A girl comes up and I also explain the typewriter to her as she has never seen one before. She tells me that she didn’t realize it came with a keyboard, sovaldi she just thought it was a machine that cut paper.
An able-bodied man is admiring a painting in the seventh floor.
Man: Sometime I want to rent one of those walkers with the seats and go to the Milwaukee Art Museum so that I can just sit in front of the paintings.
Me: Well, capsule I’m sure they wouldn’t say no to you if you wanted to rent one.
Man: But then I’d look like I’d need it. (Pauses) Well, maybe one day I will.
I order just the bone marrow
without the bread.
is that too weird?
Elizabeth, my waitress says,
“Nothing is too weird to order at the Mason Street Grill. There is a vegetarian woman who comes here all the time ordering just a plain baked potato with broccoli.”
The Mason Street Grill’s lighting is the color of gravy.
Were I a vegetarian I would come here just to satisfy my carnivorous cravings
with a plain baked potato in this restaurant illuminated by steak essence
without betraying my principles.
I have a spot at the chef’s counter.
Close exposure to the sizzle and clang of the kitchen
makes dinner much more exciting
these cooks know they are on stage
they grind pepper with great ceremony
they cut pizza with broad sweeping gestures
one usually reserves for ironing a king size bed sheet.
I watch steak after steak leaving the kitchen.
Before they depart they are dribbled with white sauce
and resembled chocolate cake with vanilla frosting.
When my bones come out, I am surprised and delighted to see that they come with a just arugula salad. The significance of which you will understand if you read this story.
Anyways, Elizabeth looks at the bones on my plate
and tells me,
“You know in Columbia we make a soup with bones like that. Sancocho soup! We put in plantains, corn on the cob, real cilantro (that’s our secret, it turns it green), potato and bone marrow with the oxtails. The plantain has to be green, those sweet ripe kind are for frying.”
Elizabeth admits the friendly, unique, polite people of Wisconsin
tip her extra for having an accent.
Moving here four years ago
she feared she might not survive the cold
but she had to live here,
after she had visited Summerfest
she knew she had to stay.
She had to learn how to drive in the snow.
Lillian at Coat Check tells me that one of her sons became an Eagle Scout at age 12, which is unusually young. At the Eagle Scout award ceremony it is customary for the new Eagle Scout to present and attach an eagle pin on their mother. Lillian’s son fumbled and avoided making contact to her blouse with the pin. She asked him what was wrong and he said, “I don’t want you to burst!” Lillian was very pregnant at the time.
It is 2:21 p.m. and here’s what is going down: a recording of violin music saturates the air. Someone walks past hauling a 2.88 (or so) foot long camcorder. The fronds of a palm tree sensuously caress the south column. A security guard carefully explains how to get to the Metro Market to a hotel guest. I estimate the guest to be about thirty years old by the way he has trimmed his beard. Another man in a baseball cap asks me if I am typing a letter to my mother, cialis I am not. I am writing a letter to the hotel lobby, or rather what is happening inside it, since the lobby itself might not be sentient in the way that you and I are. If it were though, I’d feel sorry for the rug. Here is this exquisite rug placed on top of the ornate wall-to-wall carpeting and people just walk right over it without respectfully acknowledging the brief yet fantastic change of terrain.
This is a place where no matter where you look there is something that you can get lost dazing into. I am going to stop typing now so that I may enter reverie as I consider the spatial delights experienced by the light emanating from all the electrical fixtures. I consider the spatial tension that exists between the empty chairs at the top of the stairs. If you stick around in this place long enough you will hear each quarter of the hour marked by the dingdong chime of a grandfather clock. Today I’ve typed here long enough to see a ball bearing pop off my typewriter and roll down the marble steps. The steps here remind me of salami. How delicious!
A man descends the stairs and I notice that he has clipped his sunglasses to the backside of his turtleneck collar. I have never seen anyone keep their sunglasses snug against their neck vertebrae like that before. Someone loudly asks, “Anymore gifts?” Their companion loudly replies, “We are up to $1500,000 now.” People wheel their baggage through. It is funny to think about how 20 years ago all this luggage would have been lugged in without wheels. When I was a kid it still had not occurred to society to put wheels on suitcases. We have come a long way. I leave my typewriter to go sit by the fire for a while. My eyes close. Val, the bartender asks if I want anything, but no, I just want to sit by the fire. “That’s fine, people have been doing that since 1893,” says Val. As I sit I hear a pair of middle-aged women in the midst of some profuse giggling. I walk over to them. Pam & Kate explain how they just got back from a Photoshop conference and are now feeling giddy. The Happy Hour has descended. Roc at the desk has told me that the lobby bar is where Marilyn Monroe liked to sip her drinks. The stairwell is where Elvis Presley stood to graciously wave at everyone. Roc himself spent an hour and a half discussing international politics with Margaret Thatcher. Roc also said, “The hotel never used to allow dogs in here like they do now. Dogs love the elevator here! Each floor has it’s own bouquet of smells that the dog catches whiff of as they go past in the elevator. I wish you could interview a dog and get them to tell you what it is that they smell on each floor.” Hmm, good idea.