Look Who’s Talking

Strolling Through the Greatest Mouth in the World

"So what did you think of the flogging?" asked Guy One, who was dressed in a modified aviator outfit.

"Plugging?" said the Other, whose getup could be described as Leather Lite. "What's that?"

"Flogging. You'd hear me better if you weren't wearing that hat. Flogging, you know, like with whips."

"Oh, it looked good, I thought. I don't know about the quirts, but you know the bullwhips looked amusing. I think I'd like to find a pig bottom and try that out some time."

"Maybe you better take a course or something first," said the Other. "Somehow I can't see you knowing what to do. I mean, you really want to have some expertise with that stuff. Otherwise you look like Ruth Buzzi swinging a purse."

And so. A man on the street outside Capezio in midtown was talking about toe shoes, saying, "Some people like them new out of the box, but I like mine dead. I put them in the door and slam it. I crush them. I throw them. You want to go through the shoe. You want to control the shoe. What you don't want is to have the shoe control you." And a woman buying a copy of i-D at Gem Spa was telling a friend how she'd found a perfectly good leather jacket just sitting on a fire hydrant on East 5th Street and took it home and put it on, "And then, like, after a couple of days, I was at work and I got this itchy twitchy feeling and I didn't realize it until later, but the jacket gave me crabs." And a man who looked a lot like John Giorno, the poet who once administered Keith Haring a blowjob in the Prince Street station, was in that same station talking loudly about a concept he referred to as "promiscuous giving." And a woman walking to a newsstand near Father Demo Square was heard to say, "I was so happy, I gave all the bums a cigarette." And the writer happened to overhear this as he sat on a bench reading James Joyce: "One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by the use of wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot." And, as he closed his book, the writer abruptly thought of a jazz singer he'd recently seen performing in the subway. Finishing her number, the woman mopped her brow and flashed a smile that might have been a sign of a fine disposition or, equally, of a disordered personality. "If you can't make it entertaining for yourself," the woman had said to the air, "who can?"

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