The Day of Rosie
Only three more hours to go before this year’s Do Division closes. I have already picked up some green chicken curry from Thai Lagoon for dinner, but my heart is set on one more serving of the delicious Ćevapčići, grilling a few blocks east at the Do Division fest. I’ve had one the day before. Normally in Balkan restaurants it is served on a bed of rice, but at the fest they are served on a pita bread doused with onions, Greek cheese and their own red sauce. My mouth is watering and I just can’t settle for the green curry. So I put on my sneakers. What I am dreading and even disdain is them expecting you to donate $10 to access the festival strip. But my craving is greater than my dread and disdain. It’s a beautiful spring evening in Chicago. I walk and watch people walking to and fro from the fest. Everyone looks happy. A bit euphoric even. As I approach the south west side of the passage leading into the fest, a middle aged black man leads me in with a bowing gesture, you look so cool, walk right in. And so I do.
I had thought now with only less than three hours to go the crowds must be thinning out. Nope! There were more people now than there were yesterday afternoon. Everyone is brushing shoulders and squeezing through crowds. All the bars and the shops and the restaurants are totally bursting at the seam with people. I manage to cut through the crowd and find the Ćevapčići stand. First I walk over to the Goose Island beer stand, get a plastic glass full of their perfectly chilled brew and then join the line for Ćevapčići. I find myself a corner by the long table set up on the sidewalk by the sports bar Inn Joy. Rest my beer there and slowly savor my Ćevapčići. And I watch people milling around. The swarming crowds moving in a slow motion like gentle waves of Lake Michigan on a calm day. They are moving up and down and the sideways. Everyone yields with a smile and or courtesy, no one is going anywhere special, just back and forth within those two short blocks – grabbing hot dogs and hamburgers and whatever junk food, and washing it down with the brew. People are standing, a whole bunch sitting at the edges of the sidewalks, clusters of them talking and shouting and creating a lot of commotion that adds to the wafting sounds of the two bands playing at the both ends of the street.
Totally satiated and feeling happy like a pig in the mud, I cross the street and start walking back slowly. Past Mr. Kite’s and past Nando’s and stand right in front of Letizia’s and Enoteca Roma. And instead of exiting, I linger and watch the band play at the western end. There are about six band members, young men, probably in their mid-to late twenties. The lead singer is good looking African American with his hair done up like a nest over his head. The white man singing with him has thinning wisp of blondish hair on his head. The lead singer’s voice has a certain timber in it, the kind that stops you in your tracks. They are all swinging sideways. And the crowd in the front of the stage is dancing.
I am fixated on a young girl – probably sixteen, swinging. She is swaying her upper and lower bodies pivoted from her non-existent bare waist. Her hair is billowing with every shake of her head and her boobs are bouncing up and down and sideways with every thrust. And her butt follows the rhythm as her short legs move swiftly to keep up with the tempo. And when she bends forward, her little backpack of a purse swings with the motion. She is pretty of course and a bundle of energy. Small, no taller than 4.5”(approx. 1.4 meters). Someday she will probably be as wide as she is tall. She is a smaller version of one of Botero’s paintings. Made of the soft curves that have no sharp angles or straight vertical lines connecting her spongy round and round limbs. But right now, she is what she is. A ball of fire. A temptress incarnate.
The band begins to play the next song. My view shifts to the band and its members and the vigor with which they are all dancing and swaying. And the young girl picking up on their moves. I look back and forth and then get a bit teary eyed. I will never be able to move like that again. I think. I am on Prednisone, and the drug seems to make me overly emotional and wistful. But before I really break down, I am transplanted back to Munich and into the Yellow Submarine – the disco in the basement of the Holiday Inn in Schwabing, and I am dancing fast with Karen, never getting tired, never getting off the floor and then dancing slow with Donna Summer before she became DONNA SUMMER. And then I think of the Tengente and Why Not and Alte Pinakothek – all those night spots I prowled during my years in Munich between 1972 and 1975. So what if I no longer can swing like that without risking hurting my back or cracking a bone or pulling a muscle? Every dog has his days and I have had mine. This evening belongs to Rosie – she looks half Latin and I just decided to give her a name.
© 2108 Haresh Shah
ONE STRANGE BIRD – it is a store like no other, filled with handmade objects that you can do without, but why should you?