This is part 1 of series “Looking” from 2012. Written, filmed and edited by me.
“Are all of those yours?”
“Some of them.”
“I like dogs. What kind is that one?”
“Yeah. That’s as big as he’ll get. He’s not mine.”
“I, I have a pet duck. Best pet ever. A duck. Very clean. Very smart.”
“Wow. Do you have a pond?”
“Oh yeah, but he’s an indoor duck. He’s very clean. His little area in the house is very neat. He does his business there, but if he wants to go outside, he quacks, ‘Quack, quack’ and let’s me know he wants to go out. He has a spot he goes in. He’s very smart.”
“Have you had him since he was young? You trained him? Does he come when you call him?”
“Oh yeah. And he drinks beer. He loves Heineken. For treats, I open up a can of corn. He loves it, too. You should give your dogs beer. Dogs love beer, too. Do you give your dogs beer?”
“No. Just regular food.”
“You should give him beer. Not liquor though. My duck doesn’t like it. He tasted it and blah! ‘Quack’ and spit it out. He’s the best pet. He walks around the house, waddles down the stairs and if he falls, HA! he hits his beak! Heheheh. I love all types of animals. I’ve had all types of pets. Every animal. The worse pet I had was an iguana.”
“Why was the iguana the worst?”
“Ha! ‘Cuz he would beat everyone up!”
“With his tail!”
“How big was he?”
The bald man in the plain white T-shirt with blue jeans and a belt, standing about 5’8″, gestures to his chest. “This tall! But the funniest pet I ever had,” he pauses, rocking back and forth, “was a bobcat. Ha! THE funniest!”
“Where do you live?! An iguana, a duck, a bobcat?”
“Ah, I have a place upstate, here in Greenpoint and I had one on Long Island. Sold it though. They wouldn’t let me have my other pet.”
“What? Are you a zoologist?”
“Ha. No, I’m an electrician. I just love animals. They’re better than people.”
Walking dogs in the rain sucks.
No one wants to be out there. It’s fucking cold and dismal and we all end up unsexy wet.
It’s not that pretty mystical, fantasy rain of Tom Cruise’s “Legend” — searching for unicorns in the magic forest. No. It’s cold and grey and gross. Wind whipping in unpredictable patterns. Streams and dumps. Sheets and bullets. Cold ass rain. Wet everywhere.
We have to go out. They need to poop and pee. They are too proud and territorial (thankfully) to do it at home.
Balancing two dogs and the umbrella I took from the restaurant’s lost and found. Damn wind keeps changing— left to right, up to down, down to up — flipping the cheap thing inside out and I keep confusing the retraction/expansion button and crumpling it. Fucking thin cellophane-like poop bags stick to my clammy frozen fingers. I have been doing this for so damn long, how is it possible that I keep confusing which side is the seam and which is the opening, and with everything drenched, the little trick of licking a finger and rubbing the plastic to separate the vacuum pressed fold, is futile.
Again, I’m a grown-ass woman. Why did I not put on my rain-boots but instead opt to wear my beloved Fryes that I have been neglecting to weatherproof and wax?
My outfit doesn’t matter. The fronts of my legs are soaking. My calves are covered in the gross splash-back of old piss, shit and barf from the streets, disguised as simple murky puddles of freshly fallen rain.
The puppies, you would think as an evolutionary mutation- like a duck, would have fur that wicks away the water. They don’t. Rain functions in a totally penetrating wetness, with all the city splooge, splashing back a little extra love into their fur.
Perambulating through the streets of Williamsburg.
We wander. Inspecting interesting piles of trash squished into fences, accumulating in abandoned commercial lots. A wheel from a child’s toy truck, orange and black. The wrappings of a gift. A pink brush whose bristles have been pressed flat and useless.
We stop at the end of Grand Street at the small park and stare at the choppy waters of the East River, at the cityscape across. A landscape brushed in dirty coffee and copper, dusted blue, grey and moss green. It’s mostly patinaed copper, but when soft rays of sunlight break their way through the blanket of clouds, a shimmer of gold speckles here and there.
Trying to stay present. To be mindful while simultaneously repressing the urge to urinate (coffee kicking in). Rejecting the urge to succumb to the cold, but the wind is gaining intensity. My hair is the color of honey, whipping across my face, breaking the grey. My fingers are so cold they burn hot. Lips chapped but I hesitate to apply chapstick, knowing my wind-whipped hair will end up stuck.
I try to concentrate on the strewn red rose petals spread on the ground beside the bench. I imagine some lovers quarrel or romantic encounter gone wrong. Maybe it was a proposal gone right and the couple were swept up in the moment, in their happiness and hope, they forgot about the bouquet.
Sitting still, the cold begins to penetrate. I need to move. I want to stay in this moment, ruminating in my observations, but I can’t.
Walking now, the follicles on the front of my thighs pop with chill and I’m eating my hair. The puppies, who were content chewing sticks at my feet are still equally enthused sniffing the smorgasbord of odors on the street.
Zelda swings right to left, scouring every lead like a metal detecting beachcomber. Drake hangs low to the ground, foaming nostrils, identifying every scent skillfully. We approach a section of fencing that seems to be the outdoor bathroom of choice of some desperate humans, but it’s not fresh and it’s too cold to be too noxious.
I pull them closer to me, in case for want they decide to investigate.
They help me to be aware. To be present and take note of the simple things.
I tend to make things complicated.
I am never bored.