Wednesday, October 19, 2011


It was my lunch break. I was eating steak... in a city park.  The steak was served in a zip lock baggie, cold leftovers from the night before and I was sticking to a sap-stained park bench.  I hadn't purchased this prime cut of beef because I don't dine on sirloin right now.  One steak and a Coke?  I don't measure that in dollars; I measure it in hours.  That's a half of a day's work.  Dear friends bought Mary Beth and I the grilled cuisine, and they didn't just offer dinner. They talked about paying rent... Layers.

As I set up lunch, an older gentleman strolled into the park carrying two suitcases out of a 60's movie.  A blue ball cap, the mesh kind that were dominate in the 80's and that are now making a comeback, protected his sun-scarred face.  He was thin, not a healthy, fit-and-in-shape kind of thin, but the kind that comes from lacking a surplus of food.  He wore Wranglers, although he likely never road a horse or shot a pistol from his hip. He rolled his Wranglers just like a parent does when buying their kid's pants a couple sizes too big in order to save a trip back to the store in a month.  He covered his chest with one of those shirts Middle Aged West Texas Tourists wear, one that would blend into any decade while at the same time be clearly out of fashion.  It's probably one your grandpa wore.  As he set up at his bench, a man dashed out of the office building across the street as if posing for a GQ ad - shimmery suit tapered at the ankle, a single button holding the coat over his well-fed belly, a nicely groomed beard.  He jumped in a car and moved out of the GQ ad into a Lexus commercial.  Only one hundred feet apart...Layers.

Gnawing on my cow remains, I pulled out a Gatorade to lubricate my meat's decent into my stomach.  That's when I noticed, my blue-hatted friend also had a Gatorade.  His flavor was "Fountain Water" and it wasn't a beverage.  It was a washing machine.  He pulled a shirt out of his suitcase and arranged it on the brick sidewalk.  After filling his bottle with water from the fountain he started the pre-soak cycle.  He doused his clothes and then started scrubbing with a barely visible soap fragment.  Then he rinsed.  His dryer was the only park bench managing to sunbathe in the noonday rays.  "Ding! Ding!" An iPhone text interrupted my observations... Layers.

After glancing at the text I moved from the steak remains to a Trix yogurt ("Silly rabbit!  Tricks are for kids).  I pealed back the lid and started to drink my yogurt just as my blue-hatted friend began enjoying a tasty mid-day meal himself.  Fortunately we were shaded by mature pecan trees that had rained down their Fall gifts across the park.  The blue hatted man would gather a few, line them on his bench like a Sushi Chef lines his rolls, and then crack one at a time.  Park pecans for lunch!  After my yogurt I opened my pita chips and scooped up some garlic hummus... Layers.

Lunch was nearly over.  It had been less than one hour and there were layers everywhere.  Layers sitting on park benches.  Layers walking down the street.  Layers smoking in the ally.  Layers dinning on pecans at the water fountain laundry mat, layers in suits, layers in an old pair of Asics and a stained church t-shirt, layers in my head, layers in your head.  Layers everywhere... except in God.

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