I continued on up to a shoe store near Pearl Street
where I have been before. When the manager is
there, I get quick and courteous attention. But when
he's not there, I'm able to indulge my favorite child-
hood fantasy of being invisible. The two clerks staf-
fing the store when I arrived were engaged in an
energetic conversation about their common acquain-
tances, all of whom are lame and stupid. At one point,
I decided to test the shield of my invisibility by stand-
ing quite close to one of the clerks and peering in-
tently at a pair of shoes, as though having them was
my heart's desire. The shield held. I stayed for about
twenty minutes, then stepped back out onto Church
Street, wondering if I could stroll into the next store
and scoop out the contents of the cash register with-
out being seen. But, I decided not to try it.
Stepping across to the other side, I sat on a bench,
and took a picture of the brick turreted pile that houses the shoe store. It's a striking edifice and a feature I noticed today that I hadn't noticed before is that each of the attractive wrought iron balconies on the upper levels has a prominent medallion on the rails with the letter "R" in the middle of it -- to designate the name of the building, "Richardson Place."
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Out and About with Word and Image of Vermont
A Burlington Outing
He walked down the hall cursing a variety of people as he approached the Church Street entrance. The interesting thing about him was that he did not curse people generally but specifically for their habits. When he saw people coming out of the Gap, for example, he cursed them for shopping at the Gap. He stepped out onto Church Street, turned right down the hill, and began to curse the people eating in the outdoor seating areas. Since I turned left, I pretty quickly lost sight of him.
About a half block up the street, I came on a man of about the same age, sitting on a bench, and cursing not people but the universe. His curses spilled out in great, vehement roars and as far as I could tell by the position of his head were addressed to the sky.
Going back down the street, I was forced to acknowledge something that early warm days in Vermont put beyond doubt: the age of the modest maiden is past. I am one who holds that changes bring both loss and gain, and in this instance I'm not prepared to say which is more powerful. But the occurrence of the change is beyond question. The only young lady I saw who could qualify as a modest maiden was dressed in traditional Islamic garb. She looked quite dignified and pretty and helped me to understand better why many people of Moslem countries fear and detest American culture.
I was hungry so I went into the Starbucks which is now a part of the Burlington Square Mall. I have been there before but I had never bought anything because the food offerings consisted of chocolate concoctions I was sure would kill me if I were to eat one. Today, however, there were muffins, and not a scanty supply either. I demonstrated my originality by choosing a blueberry muffin, that I got with a "tall" cup of coffee which, strangely, was the smallest option available to me. Then I sat down to eat my muffin and to study the text on the insulating band placed around my tall cup of coffee. From it I learned that this band uses forty percent less material than a second cup would use. I guess in the past, to keep people from burning their fingers, one cup was placed inside another. But, now, Starbucks has become ecological.
After finishing my muffin and my coffee, both of which were good, I strolled through several other stores, looking at fine papers, and notebooks, and kitchen implements. And then I decided to try the shoe store again. This time the manager was there and he promptly stepped forward and asked if he could help me. I pointed out a pair of shoes that interested me and he scurried away to see if he had my size, returning quickly not only with the shoes I had indicated but two other kinds which he said were similar. I tried on all three pair, liked them all, and had some trouble deciding which I would buy. I ended up breaking my long-held and solemn vow that I would never again buy any brand of shoes but Clarks. And I hope I'm not going to regret it. The pair I got are made by Geox, an Italian company. Not only did the shoes look pretty good and feel comfortable, they are contained in a box which has a picture showing air circulating briskly through the sole of the shoe to keep the feet cool and dry. I think that's what got me. They cost $120, ten dollars less than the Clarks. But that wasn't a big consideration.
Shoes in hand I walked back down Church Street, past the universe cursing man, who was still cursing, and on to the main section in front of the mall. There I paused to ask myself if I wanted to do some of the other things I had considered when I set out on my adventure. But, as soon as I asked, I realized I had had enough of Burlington for one day. I hurried back to my cursed car and scooted to Montpelier as quickly as the now bumpy I.S. 89 would allow. When I had made it through the forty miles and was back on State Street I felt relieved to be home.
Today, May 11, 2004, was very pleasant and I was in the mood for an outing. So I drove to Burlington. I saw many things there but, perhaps, the most striking were numbers of people who may not have been deranged but who, I suspect, managed to convince most observers that they were.
As I was parking on Pine Street, a man came along, probably in his sixties, who began to curse me for the car I drive. He was quite graphic and quite loud. He then turned left and crossed the street to walk up to the entrance of the Chittenden Bank, where he began to curse the people there for being bank patrons. This made me feel considerably better about my car. He did not enter the bank, however, but turned away to go into the Burlington Square Mall just ahead of me.