Today while I was shopping in West Seattle I decided to take a break and grab a coffee before heading back to the ferry. I was frazzled. Not irritated exactly, just eager to ditch the compression of Seattle’s traffic, get home and throw some salts into a hot tub and soak and drink some wine.
After I decided on where to stop for the Americano, I moved into a cross walk to cross the street and then instantly, as if materializing out of the ethers behind me, a twenty-something hipster — dressed in black and wearing a black cap and sporting multiple spider-themed tattoos and pulling a black suitcase on wheels behind him — was behind me.
As we moved in tandem across the street, with the suitcase’s wheels clattering and grinding on the asphalt behind him, the guy kept inching closer into my personal space. It was like his presence was crawling up my back as I moved towards the coffee place and I felt flummoxed and startled by how quickly someone could get in your face without ever inviting or eliciting such a meeting. Something was afoot.
Speeding my pace, I aimed for the establishment, lost him and entered with the door of the biz closing behind me just as he popped/kicked the door back open — dragging the suitcase behind him like a ball and chain.
I got in line to order. And then he was in line to order, next to me, but, again, with his presence pushing into the field around me so he might have been sitting on my shoulder fidgeting with his phone, lost in its screen, while I was making a conscious effort to ignore him and focus on the cupcakes in the display case (one of which was flavor-named “Kate” — god knows why. I decided to take a picture of it and send the shot to my friend Kate). But even my cake distraction couldn’t dislodge the guy’s omnipresent vibe. It was something akin to a rash.
I ordered, got my coffee and no cupcake and moved as far away as I could into the jungle of chairs and tables, to find a bench and table out of sight of the dark guy.
Two minutes later, with a coffee and the fucking suitcase behind him, he was sliding in beside me on the bench that served the row of tables in front of us; where he proceeded to methodically, like a scientist unpacking a warhead, free the contents of the mystery suitcase on wheels.
As the gear was excavated, each item, to my irritation, was placed on the same bench we were sharing until so many items were piled atop one another they were edging into my thigh.
At this point I could no longer focus on the newspaper I was reading. Something in me had finally surrendered at the event horizon of his black hole and I was pulled into the guy’s buzzing mandala of Look At Me. And so I was all eyes.
First out of his suitcase came an eight-outlet power strip the size of which would normally be seen on a construction site. (Hello!) Then an equalizer. Then a mixer. And then two sets of headphones.
Then more power cords. Then another mixer of some sort with a giant red center knob. More cords. His phone being at the hub of this entire arrangement.
At this point I was a mix of curiosity and agitation underscored by a distinct dash of: “I’m getting the fuck out of here.” Which I did, but not before pulling out my phone and launching an astrology app that includes an ephemeris.
I knew the transits of the moment would have something to do with my ascendant because this guy’s presence had so emphatically been injecting itself into the field that I consider my private air space.
And sure enough the Moon at that moment was at 28 degrees Leo, sitting directly on natal Pluto in my first house.
What to make of that?
Fuck if I know. Pluto is that way. Mine, or yours. It’s the wild card of the solar system (much more so than Uranus). But inevitably he/she is always dressed in black and always feels either larger than life or smaller than the smallest atomic particle. Sometimes both at the same time. That’s Pluto.
I got up from the table, tossed my cup in the trash and then, well, I had to take one last look behind me. Now the entire table in front of the guy was throbbing with electronic gear. Other quizzical patrons were studying the tableaux too, kind of amazed and wondering if there was going to be a performance of some sort. Some event that would explain the bizarre display of complete disregard for public space.
But I think not. The only thing ‘happening’ was the free power outlet that the guy was able to monopolize and then transform into his private DJ booth. But all in his head (and headphones), all alone — but with all the world watching.
When I finally got home, propped on my porch was a package from UPS. I opened it up quickly. After waiting nearly two weeks for its arrival, the new leather jacket I’d ordered from New York had finally arrived. (And yes, it’s black).
Illustration/collage by Leif Podhajsky.