Thursday, November 20, 2008

The City That Spits

The City of Firsts--true, but historical.
The City that Reads--hopeful, but not necessarily connected to reality; opens us up to "irony."
The City the Breeds--stop.
The Greatest City in America--well, um, I
like it here, but...(see also: The City that Reads)

I propose a slogan for our Baltimore that is current, true, without the invitation to ridicule. Every day that I leave my house, I see at least one person spit. I have been known to spit, true, but I confine my spitting to those times when I am in my own yard and have gotten some nasty thing or other in my mouth. Spitting in public strikes me as an ancient habit, from the days when it was ok to throw soda cans and potato chips bags out the window of the Buick while driving down the avenue--from the days before that public service advertisement with the Native American on his horse, looking down into the river of trash, a tear in his eye. Certainly people spit in public in other cities, but I live in this one, and every day, I see at least one person spit. To wit:

  • 12/01/08 8:41 am Saratoga Street at Howard, African American man, 30s, in an ollllllld white Honda. Another open-the-door-at-a-red-light-and-drop-one. The young woman beside him seemed to be unconcerned.
  • 12/01/08 8:43 am Saratoga Street at Park Avenue, same as above.
  • The intervening days I spent, mostly, in Lima, Ohio, where, during my entire stay I saw exactly one person publicly expectorate.
  • 11/21/08 2:43 pm Howard Street between Fayette and Baltimore. Some will argue that this does not count, and that today, so soon, is the long-awaited Day Without Spit, but: while I did not actually see it happen, I very nearly stepped in it, a vast, very fresh pool of it on the bricks. In lieu of a witnessed spitting today, I will give you a greatest hit from about a year ago. My wife, driving home, saw a woman on Howard Street near the light rail stop at Saratoga. At this stop there is a signpost, attached to which is a little cannister ashtray. The woman in question, holding a cigarette, took a big swig of mouthwash, and, from a distance of about four feet, expelled it, in a wide spray, in the direction of, but not necessarily into, the ashtray. Some mouthwash, made it in, I guess, but only incidentally.
  • 11/20/08 Thursday: 12:06 pm Eutaw Street at Lexington Street, in the crosswalk in front of Lexington Market: 50s African American man, leaning forward on one foot, looking down, into the pavement.
    • 11/20/08 Thursday: 8:54 am Howard and Fayette Streets, outside the McDonald's: 40s African American man. Big one, out into the street, with a splat audible over the sound of an approaching light rail train.
  • 11/19/08 Wednesday: 9:13 am Howard and Saratoga Streets: late 20s white guy with his head shaved, professional appearance. Let fly in a long arc into the rising sun.
  • 11/18/08 Tuesday: 3:52 pm Saratoga and Charles Streets: white woman in her 50s(?), slight, white-haired, rather eccentric/hip-looking in patched stockings and a floppy hat. Face twisiting, downward looking hock onto the sidewalk.
  • 11/17/08 Monday: 9:23 am 33rd Street, near City College High School: African American man, 20s(?), driving a Buick (yes). Open door at stoplight, drop one onto the street. This seems to be the preferred method of spitting in Baltimore. It is also, incidentally, a favorite way to empty the car ashtray.
I will keep this running tab, updating it, and noting--should it ever come--the day I leave the house and do not see a single person spit.



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