Tuesday, January 03, 2006

THE PERFECT APPLIANCE

The walls were made of cinderblock and could have used a new coat of paint. That is nothing particularly new or surprising; it could be said of a lot of places. As we made our way around we had to maneuver around a lot of old people shuffling around aimlessly--perhaps looking for a toilet, I might guess looking for a way out. In one room, a group of ancient men sat around a ping pong table covered in crusty coffee cup stains playing cards. When we walked by, they covered the cards with their hands in a hurry, like we were going to call them on it. Which we weren't. One room had apparently been taken over by children. We passed their teacher--a well-meaning peace corps type with a scraggle of a goatee--in the hall. He was running holding his hands out in front of him. They were dripping with yellow paint. In the room he had abandoned, or exiled from, the children had stacked their chairs against the door to prevent entry. They were not about to let their new territory be invaded. The remaining chairs had been stacked on one of the tables. The children were all up on the tables. They had also constructed a massive pyramid out of toilet paper rolls and rubber cement. They appeared to be worshipping it. It stunk to high heaven in the next room. Someone said it smelled like "lunch," which we weren't sure what to make of. A man sat on a chair with a wobbly leg watching W. Leavitt's all-time favorite film, Mildred Pierce. Someone made a comment that Joan Crawford's facial features looked just like Cruella DeVille's. It rang true, though I wondered if her fur coat was a contributing factor to the resemblance.

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