October 6, 2003

A Chance for an Encounter

The glint from his flesh-colored earpiece and its thick spiral cord first caught my eye. Otherwise his dark brown suit would have kept him hidden amongst the other dark suits walking down Pennsylvania Avenue.

He was broadcasting HIGH LEVEL GOVERNMENT PERSONAGE up and down the street. My DNA-enhanced WiFi picked up his Secret Service signal loud and clear and instinctively I began to look around.

period tie

Standing so close I could touch him was John Ashcroft. He too wore a government-issued uniform tailored to his stature: a gray pinstripe with a crisp white oxford shirt and blood red telegenic tie. His camouflage was meant to obfuscate. No wonder I hadn’t picked up his signal. I had been set to a very different frequency. I was wearing a 1940s indigo blue shirt with a subtle ikat weave and one of my favorite period neckties. An homage to a classy past I regarded my austere present.

“Sir, your Patriot Act stinks!” I heard myself saying.

No, that wasn’t strong enough. Not pointed or clever. Why is it I can never pull out just the right retort to contemporary fascism?

I was so close and the opportunity was so ripe, it scared the shit out of me. I knew I had to push myself away and fast or else the next phone call I made would be from a holding cell on Guantanamo.

I did not look back.

A few blocks later, lost in the playback loop of my encounter, a black sedan suddenly stopped and turned around. Pulling up beside me, a man leaned out the window and said something incomprehensible. “WHAT?” I yelled over the din of the DC boulevard, cupping my hand to my ear. “Nice tie,” he repeated. “Very nice.”

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