WE HAVE TWO primary plazas in our Colonial downtown. One is a good bit bigger than the other.
We call the bigger one the Big Plaza, and we call the smaller one the Small Plaza, but we do it in Spanish, not English.
The two are just one block apart.
They are very distinctive, those two plazas. The Big Plaza is where fancy people hang out. The Small Plaza is where the working class gathers. It appears to be self-segregation.
I, of course, hang out in the Big Plaza.
There are other differences. The Big Plaza has far fewer sidewalk vendors than the Small Plaza, which not only has more vendors but a wider variety of products.
The vendors on the Big Plaza mostly sell corn on the cob. The far more numerous vendors on the Small Plaza sell all sorts of stuff. I’m particularly fond of shrimp cocktails.
I was slumming the other day by walking through the Small Plaza, and I noticed this smiling woman selling ice cream. I took her photo, and here it is.
THE TOP PHOTO is a huge mural you’ll see on the main drag as you drive toward the state capital 40 minutes down the mountainside.
The other photo is the individual in question. He is our town’s most notable character, a position I doubt he is aware of even though he’s been the topic of numerous artworks. He even hangs in galleries.
He is incredibly grungy. One wonders where he sleeps nights, if he even has a home. His clothes, his hat, appear to have been dredged from beneath the municipal waste dump
I do not know his name though I have spoken with him a thousand times.
He’s a sidewalk peddler, and what he peddles are straw fans, perhaps to cool your face on warm afternoons in spring, or to fan embers of a dying fire for our winter nights.
The mural has him smoking. I’ve never seen him smoking.
Here’s the routine: I’m sitting at a sidewalk table with Kindle and cafecito. Here he comes. Buy a fan, he indicates. He usually does not speak, just waves the string of fans and grunts a bit.
I say I already have purchased two, which is true, years ago. He replies that I need a third. I say no. He will continue pushing until I say the magic phrase: Maybe tomorrow. That always satisfies him, and he leaves.
For another shot of the fellow, go here.