Thursday, August 28, 2003

Sorry about the long hiatus. I've been settling myself in California, getting to the first few days of classes, and wondering why in a town with as many cafes as this one seems to have, there isn't a single grocery store.

This afternoon, I was sitting in one of the cafes, eating an excellent Italian salad, and trying to read The Shewings of Julian of Norwich. At the table next to mine sat two older men. One had hair that, while relatively long, was controlled in a neat ponytail, and wore a decent, although plain, suit. The other man's hair and beard resembled those of an anchorite who had been sitting on the top of the mountain, far away from brushes and scissors, for twenty years; his coat and trousers may not have been washed for the same length of time. In an articulate and grammatically sound Irish brogue, the dirty man was explaining to the clean man the finer points of collecting coins dropped on the floor. At his friend's coaching, the clean man found a coin under a nearby table, which he then (also according to coaching) dropped in the Tips jar at the cafe. I think it had to do with personal dignity - sitting in a cafe, the homeless person should donate money to the cafe that lets him sit there and drink his cappuccino, rather than claiming every penny for himself - but am not sure. The event was intriguing to me, but not being an anthropologist, I can't quite unpack it. Any thoughts from you guys?


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