Columns, Grace Notes

Watch your step

The advice to always act as though someone is watching is wise. This is especially true in an age when video cameras seem to be present everywhere, including in bear dens and eagle nests.

I eat lunch on weekdays with an eclectic group, whose members share a cock-eyed sense of humor and an appreciation for the quirks and absurdities of life. A current, ongoing, some would say mindless, focus of the group has been to observe the comings and goings of a young woman we have dubbed “Cape Lady.” Cape Lady, as her name implies, is readily identifiable by her long, hooded, gray-green cape, which billows outward as she walks across the street from the lunchroom windows of the Minnesota Church Center. She brings to mind Catherine on the moors in Wuthering Heights.

Sometimes Cape Lady appears walking north down the alley opposite the Church Center, before turning east on her way to her destination, the corner bus stop. Other days we see her walking west on the sidewalk, before entering the alley to go south, eventually disappearing between garages as she heads for the back door of what, we can only assume, is her residence.

Jean Johansson

Cape Lady, as her name implies, is readily identifiable by her long, hooded, gray-green cape, which billows outward as she walks.

One member of our group has been given the responsibility to record in a small notebook the date, day of the week, time of day, temperature, weather conditions, and direction being walked by Cape Lady when she is seen. If our recorder is absent from lunch, the rest of us are responsible for jotting down the data that will be transferred to the notebook. The goal of this exercise, if there is one, is to eventually be able to identify Cape Lady when she walks past wearing something other than her cape.

We don’t really know what Cape Lady looks like, except that she has short hair (we’ve seen her from the back without her hood) and wears glasses (one member of our group saw her while driving to work). Surely we have seen her walk past capeless, but haven’t yet figured out how to identify her without her signature cape. She, on the other hand, has no idea she is being observed, and doubtless never will, as our group hones its investigative skills.

The eyes have it

As I waited in my car at a red light during a recent drive to work, I observed a male in his late teens or early 20s as he crossed the street. He was wearing black jeans, a black leather jacket, and black boots. His black hair was worn in a ponytail at the nape of his neck, and he had a neatly trimmed short black beard and mustache. He was wearing orange-rimmed sunglasses (even though it was foggy), ear buds, and he was smoking.

As he passed, I was speculating on what his appearance said about him. When his backpack became visible, I had an indication that he had a sense of humor. Rather than an all-black backpack, which I would have expected, the design on the fabric was the head of a colorful fish, more typical of what I would have expected on a young child’s backpack. The opening of the bag was the mouth of the fish, with the zipper the teeth. Maybe this young man had just enough appreciation for the absurd to make him a potential member of my lunch group.

Lent presents me with the gift of time to reflect on whether the way I live accurately represents the Christian beliefs I hold. Someone is always watching, and as likely as not, God’s eyes are those of a stranger on the street.

Tags: , ,