My Glaucous Umbrella
“I don’t think I’m smart,” I said to the dripping man standing beside me in the bus shelter. He had remarked about my umbrella, how it was a color likely favored by someone who thought they were smart. I had no idea what he meant by this. Indeed, I had no idea how this particular umbrella had come into my possession. Moreover, he said it was a color I’d never heard of before. It sounded more like an eye or blood affliction than a color. Why was this man bothering me? The umbrella, whatever its fucking color, effectively kept the rain off my head and shoulders and thus I had no reason to decry it or to throw it aside so that a sodden cretin wouldn’t feel compelled to vapidly opine about it. That he wore rubber galoshes piqued me further. “What kind of man wears galoshes these days?” I snarled. “A smart man,” he said, “for even your silly umbrella won’t keep your shoes dry.” I glanced at my shoes, the toes a darker shade of brown than the rest. The man’s segmented smile reminded me of a ventriloquist’s dummy; so too, his apple cheeks and his dead eyes. “I win, dum-dum,” he said. And as the man suddenly spun around like a ballerina and dashed away — perhaps correctly envisaging a thrashing with the umbrella in question — I couldn’t help but think of Heinrich von Kleist and his essay on the puppet theatre and how no human being can match the puppet in effortless grace.
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