Periscope Depth

I don’t like your fashion business, mister

I’ve become one of Those People that carries a Moleskine notebook.

Okay, not an actual Moleskine, but an inspired knockoff. A Wild & Wolf “Qwerty” A6 notebook. It has the same hard cover, elastic strap, cloth bookmark and storage pocket that the most prestigious name in notebooks is known for. I have a nice pen tucked into the strap. It’s small enough to fit into my hip pocket.

I bought it at the disintegrating Borders in Downtown Crossing for a modest discount. On the way back to work, I spotted a man with a leathery homeless tan and white bushy hair. He wore mesh shorts and a running jersey. His legs were skinnier than my arms. In one hand he held a cigarette; in the other, a single long-stemmed rose. “Can you do me a favor?” he asked of a man behind me as I passed.

I stopped off at Capone’s afterward to pick up a meatball sub. It was after 2:00, so I’d missed the lunch rush. Just me and the folks behind the counter. “Come in,” the owner said, “nice and warm.” He was a broad man in his fifties with curly hair, gray at the temples. He sat at a table in the back, an adding machine and a stack of yellow receipts in front of him. When he got up to hand something to the lady behind the counter, I saw that his left arm was significantly shorter than his right. Like a bad break that never healed right.

But I’m burying the lede: why buy a fancy notebook? So I remember things like that. If I’m going to improve as a writer, I need to work on description. I need to find things that are real, like homeless guys with roses and shop owners with broken arms. I need to get better at boiling a scene down into a few brief words. Plus, when I take the notebook out, it tells everyone that I’m a writer. It’s not just every chump in Cambridge that totes a Moleskine, let me tell you.

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