Random Acts of Licking
May 15, 2012
I do a lot of walking. I’m built for it, you’re built for it. Life can fairly be described as birth, walking around, and death. Some purists will claim there is eating, and sleeping, and sex too, but you do a lot of walking in between.
I walk into Harvard Square often. It’s the site of a Great University1, a stop on the Red Line of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation System and a prime spot for people watching. Today the outdoors was grey and spitty, so I threw my bright rescue-orange foul weather parka on and walked to H^2 on my way to MIT2. I was not disappointed in my people watching. On my way through the actual Harvard Square, a not square actually, a triangular peninsula bounded by the Avenue of Massachusetts and the Street of Brattle, I was licked by a stranger.
H^2 is dominated by a News stand3, the Subway Station, a Starbucks, an Information Cylinder, and The Pit. The Pit is the only place in the area where you can comfortably hang out without having to buy the latest edition of Paris Match, a subway ride into Boston, or a cup of overpriced warm milk with a shot of expresso. The Citizens of the Pit4 live hard. No bed, no dinner reservations, and no appointments. They are always talking, and singing, and dancing, and living. Hard.
So I was walking past the Pit, and a young woman veered towards me. I pride myself on my excellent crowd walking skills5 , but as I veered away in response, she kept coming. We were dancing now, I was leading and she was following. And it wasn’t until I paused for a moment to avoid the collision that she looked up at me with enigmatic smile and licked my shoulder. She then disappeared back into the crowd.
That’s living hard. She had no idea where my shoulder had been. Would it make her sick or happy or cause hallucinations? She took a big risk licking a giant orange human. I suppose I do too, walking around. For me, it caused uncontrollable smiling for the next 10 blocks.
1 So they tell me.
2 Definitely a Great University, though it has to share it’s Red Line Stop with a guy named Edward Kendall, whose company still makes boilers and has since 1880: http://kendallboiler.com/our-history/.
5 I can maintain cruising speed in crowds which stop ordinary walkers in their tracks.