I really am a big fan of wearing black. Black and white. When I was younger and I learned that another Georgia, one I pretty much idolized, Georgia O'Keefe, wore only black and white clothing, I was impressed. I'm a Johnny Cash enthusiast too, and it was a plus to me that he was known as "The Man in Black." Robert Smith? Black duds. Peter Murphy? Black, black, black. Felix the Cat? Mehitabel? Mostly black, with white accents.
Today I was black from my turtleneck clear down to my punked-up combat boots. What's more, I wore my silver vintage bat necklace. On a black cord. But I wasn't trying to be gothic, honest. Don't you know? Black minimizes. Black is classic. Black is also a great when you're out walking and you unexpectedly have to stand, shifting from foot to foot for half an hour, waiting for the train to move on so you can push your wheelchaired Ancestor to the mall to eat bad pizza. I'm not exaggerating about the half an hour. Sure, we could've walked blocks and blocks out of the way just to sweat and strain our way up one side of a steep viaduct, and then on side two lose control of Shake, Rattle, and Roll—that's the wheelchair's name—which would no doubt deftly careen into traffic, producing blood-curdling screams and one flatttened granny. Luckily, I had my knitting with me. It was also black. My needles, however, were long and red and sharp and metallic, which gave me an added look of danger. All of this fashion shorthand came in handy as a transient chap who was also waiting to cross the tracks started feeling extra-friendly toward The Ancestor and myself. If I'd been wearing, say, baby pink, I might not have felt quite as brave. But in black I commanded some respect, or at least some personal space. My footware proudly announced, "These boots were made for kickin'!" My clicking red potential stabbers said, "Sure, mister, we can have a neighborly chat, but if you get the wrong kind of pushy these babies are headed right up your nostrils."
It never came to that. Our snaggle-toothed bestie was a little uncomfortably solicitous, but he had a pleasant (if airy) smile and he was kind enough to walk off a few paces when he felt the call to light up a smoke. He hollered a vague apology to us, as if it was hard to have to choose a cig over the company of his new companions.
When he came back to finish waiting with us, he offered to help squeeze my grandmother and her wheelchair beneath the pausing train to the sidewalk on the opposite side of the tracks. We declined this generous gesture. Was it my imagination that he seemed a little nervous about my needles? He told us how very nice we both looked, and then said to me, so earnestly, "I like your bat," and when the train finally cleared out we fellow travellers parted more or less as friends.