Monday, April 16, 2007

LOOKING FORWARD, LOOKING BACKWARD, GROVER CLEVELAND

The ceiling was ornate, and it was so high that many of its ancient intricacies were obsured by shadow. The walls extended down, covered in old wainscoting that likely harbored dust, fingernails, the blood of civil war veterans between the boards. There were old brass hooks jutting out at each booth, and people hung their sopping jackets on them, the fabric sagging like the wings of a wounded bat. At places along the wall, murky mirrors were built in. They were cracked and reflected only weird suggestions of the people who stared into them. Sitting there, in a place so old, is pretty much about as perfect as you can get. Far off, you hear the clinking of glasses, and perhaps a baseball game on the television, but the way that the wood creaks, and the way that the seats accommodate you strangely--as though they were built for someone who lived a hundred years before you--makes you hope that you can have an infinite number of moments just like this one. But you realize that you can't. You realize that every moment you have just like this one could be the last chance to experience that peculiar sensation. You stare at the person gesticulating across from you and you get a wild urgency like you're playing chess-by-mail with someone who has rapidly-encroaching myopia. Suddenly, you only hope that they--or you--will make the next move before it's too late.