The man on the corner of 9th and Nicollet is standing on an overturned milk crate. What is probably a bible of some sort is held overhead, with one hand, while the other gesticulates wildly at the throngs of people passing by him.
It is summer in Minneapolis, a glorious and brief three- to four-month fete of green Green GREEN, of dresses, of sun-hungry skin and ridiculously thin-soled shoes. We spread our arms and fly through the long days, our eyes open, the corners of our mouths up. Bright-eyed and brimming over with the unfettered simplicity of summer, our shoveling/car-engine jumping/have-you-seen-the-heating-bill exhaustion of winter behind us, we breathe in every moment of warm air as if it were a gift.
We are light-headed and woozy, in love with the easiest of seasons.
It is the lunch hour, more or less. My heels click on the sidewalk as I approach the corner of 9th and Nicollet and the man on the milk crate.
“Cover your shame!”
I look up, point at myself: Who? Me?
“Yes, you!” he shouts. “Cover your shame! For the Lord sees your shame and knows your wantonness!”
I frown, pausing, the click of my heels slowing. Wantoness! I think, Holy moley, what’s he lookin’ at? I glance down at the front of my shirt, at the length of my skirt. This skirt, after all, tends to slowly rotate, clockwise, when I walk. Too long a walk, and eventually that cute little slit in the back works its way to the front…
I reach to feel the seam that should be running down my backside.
It’s still there.
There is nothing wrong with this outfit.
I look up at him as I pass.
“It is upon the flock to bring the wayward woman back, to call her to return!” he shouts. “Cover your shame!”
I give him a thumbs-up, call out to him. “You’re doin’ a helluva job!" I say.
But he has moved on already, and I am just another nameless, errant woman. “Cover your shame!” he bellows toward the woman behind me, another woman in a skirt.