I am out for an urban hike under a hip monochrome sky. I departed Orienteer Base an hour earlier with a map and an emotional brain. Top’s Jesus Just Left Chicago is running through my head, but I’m not in Texas, pardner. I am in a brand new CTA rail car eastbound on the Green Line, loose destination Rogers Park, Chi Town.
Recently embarked and facing me across the aisle a pair of gentle-faced ladies sit in their Sunday finest. Accompanying them is a fresh-faced lad, maybe thirteen or fourteen, but already this kid is a blonde Pantagruelean ode. In his collegiate necktie, plaid, tucked shirtsleeves, and cargo shorts he could pass for a Midwestern Heisman candidate, a real free-range, organic giant. This bronto-freshman skipped sapling and went right to the mighty oak. His arm equals my leg. You get the picture.
His incisors audibly rip the yellow prize from its trunk. I watch a kernel fly into the air before it hits the deck next to my left foot.
While girth is hardly a unique circumstance, Baby Bear wastes no time unloading a thermal snack pack and going to work incongruously demeaning an ear of corn with every tooth in his mouth.
It’s like he is angry at it, or collecting an overdue debt. His incisors audibly rip the yellow prize from its trunk. I watch a kernel fly into the air before it hits the deck next to my left foot. He is too busy buzz-sawing to notice me casually recall an ankle to my tropic of the car.
The meal becomes spectacle. Even the ladies are trying not to smile. It takes every effort to avert my curiosity, yet so forceful and barbaric is his appetite, so conspicuous is his hunger, I can’t tell if his intent is to break the ear over his general palate or to insult every last innocent nibble with his brutish, biting choppers. I remind you, this is all quite audible.
Dude is the Minotaur from Des Moines, finally tipping the mealy cob on its end to slurp the final golden dingleberry like an anteater. He stashes the humiliated stump in the freezer pack, and immediately goes to work on a crunchy, but nonetheless doomed, celery stick.
I look past them, out the window to the north.