It is four degrees below zero outside.
And there is a pair of flip-flops in one of the cubicles lining the yoga studio wall.
“This,” I say to Mary, later, “is what makes me despair over the future of mankind.”
Mary nods – at least I think she’s nodding – and sighs into the phone. “You’d think they’d die out. Miserable bastages.”
“I want to see them crying,” I say solemnly. “I know it’s wrong, but I want to see someone in flip-flops come limping in off the street, toes black, if possible, and crying ‘why didn’t I listen to that one weather guy?’”
Mary chuckles. “These are the same people,” she says, “that will walk from their front door to their car in a pair of sweat pants and a baseball cap and tell you to your face –“
“ – to your face!” I interrupt.
“To your face!” she says, pounding on to a solid object, quite possibly the kitchen table, “that it’s not that cold out!”
I nod vigorously. “Like they can tell me about the cold!”
“Pfft,” she says. “You’re like a freaking pioneer or something, out there with that enormous coat.”
“And the hat.”
“And the gloves and the scarf and the knee-high boots. You’re like an icon.”
“I’m a freakin’ Minneapolitan, for cryin’ eye!”
“You’re a known commodity,” Mary say, laughing. “Do they not recognize the wisdom that your years of –“
“Heeey,” I say.
But it’s too late. Mary has warmed to the subject.
“—experience bring? Who was around for the double layer of corduroys serving as snow pants? You. Who put her little feetsies in bread bags when her boots had cracks in the bottoms? You. Who was the gal with the frosted eye glasses groping her way onto the bus? YOU.”
Mary is choking with laughter. “Who was once stuffed into the belly of an ox during a blizzard while Pa walked uphill through the snow back to the little house on the prairie? Huh? Was that you?”
“Stay where you are, Mary,” I say, mock threatening. “’Cuz I’m comin’ over.”
“You’re a sturdy li’l lass,” she says with something of an Irish brogue, “and I’ll not have you portrayed differently! Holy Hannah, we’ll take it to the streets! I’ll fight ‘em in the streets, by God!”
The line goes quiet.
“I’ve gone too far, haven’t I?” she says.
“I have to go now,” I say quietly.
I can hear her smiling. It’s the phone, of course, but we’re professionals. “I’ll call ya later,” she says.
I smile back. “I’ll be here.”