Chapter 4

Flying Elephant

Free refills of coffee here, By George! It’s great in this city! And how can I leave this comfortable nook when the coffee is bottomless and the afternoon is freezing and rain-soaked. But there is much to see and I’ve only got a day before work tonight, an operation with the Ford Motor Company.

In this city they sell ice cream and frozen yogurt at nearly every block for any person that is batshit enough to get some in this subzero air. But I think I might get some too.

When I was a boy I remember learning of tenses. The present tense, and how it is almost never used in everyday conversation. It’s wrong to use it most cases even though it is still the first conjugation they teach you when you are learning a new language. “I grab the ball,” or “I walk down the street.” Learning these tenses, for a time anyway, is as important as ultimately learning to never actually use them in life.

This city is wonderful and freezing and I’m curled up in this Flying Elephant booth in the corner behind a small table, trying to muster up any warmth I can find. Thankfully it is early and so people are not coming in as frequently as yesterday, when that door was constantly revolving.

Yesterday we stood in the Purespace building waiting for the automotive journalists to arrive and preview Ford’s upcoming models, this year’s Taurus and the new Flex, some four-door, three-row mini SUV that was either pretty or butt-ugly, depending on your angle. It didn’t help that the word FLEX was pasted smack-dab on the face of the vehicle just above the grill, an idea they attribute to the great pride they take in their new model.

Still I could feel a wave of optimism rise within me that night in the convention hall, as I thought of the Clint Eastwood Chrysler ‘It’s Halftime America’ commercial from the Superbowl. American cars were making a comeback. Wonderful sight that night.

To the untrained eye, very few people walk the streets of downtown Portland and first it seems likely due to the misty rain, which is endless. But it’s only after walking a bit of it yourself, into that city mist, that you begin to think differently, when you see the calm thoughtfulness in the eyes of passerby who have accepted gladly the nature of their little town. They take a calm pride in the strange nature of their dreary little town, just like they did down in Roswell. You see this look in their eyes and you realize that there are many people out in the streets at night, standing in the rain in the quiet and ongoing celebration of Portland’s proud and secluded charm.

I think about how I ought to get an umbrella, though without it I think I still fit in just fine.

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