With magic comes responsibility, I learned this weekend. A friend and I had what seemed the fortuitous experience of finding a magic wand in the middle of Halsted Street on Sunday afternoon during Northalsted Market Days. Lying abandoned, it was a homemade wand, a foot-long rod topped by a flat five-pointed star that was covered with gold glitter. Though there were many fairies around, the wand’s owner was nowhere to be found. We gladly embraced its presumed power and went on our way to grant wishes. Near Roscoe Street, we spied a drag queen who had to have been at least 6 1/2 feet tall and 200 pounds. I think her name was Ginger Snapps and she and a friend were selling drag queen calendars for $6.95. We asked her to please close her eyes–fake lashes and all–concentrate, and make a wish. We tapped Ginger, the wand bouncing back against the force of her lacquered wig. The wish dispensed, we turned our attention to the sample calendar on display, paging through each month with Ginger and her friend posed in a variety of campy black-and-white shots. Having amused ourselves enough, we bid Ginger good-bye. “Well, I guess my wish didn’t come true,” she said sadly, as we moved away. “I wished that you would buy a calendar.”
Setting: Northbound Evanston el train.
Characters: An elderly man–nattily dressed in bright green pants, white shirt and socks, and beige beret–and a pixie-ish young woman who bounces up to give him her seat. She looks to be in her early 20s, with wavy blond hair and freckles, and is wearing slim dark jeans and a white shirt.
Elderly man, sitting down: You didn’t have to do that.
Young woman: It’ll keep me awake. [She smiles.]
He, loudly [he wears a hearing aid]: As good looking as you are, can you dance?
She, as if on cue: Even better.
He: What do you do? The cha-cha? The rumba?
He: Rock and roll? Tango? I used to teach the tango. I taught a thousand girls to dance.
She, teasing: You must have hated it.
He: How old do you think I am?
She: Thirty-five. [Nearly flirting. Light light.]
He: I’m two times 35 and then some. Dancing is the healthiest thing in the world.
She: I thought chocolate ice cream was. [A lilt. Cornball, yes, but fast cornball.]
At Dempster, the young woman exits. The man’s gaze follows her until the train starts up again.