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Goldstein on Goldstein

Animals, Nature, God and Goldstein

By Heather O’Neill

Goldstein is nervous because the man who is sitting next to him on the bus is wearing a white fur hat and a ski jacket zipped up. There is nothing quite as frightening as a person wearing winter clothes in summer.

The man turns to Goldstein and says, “If your biggest problem is that you don’t have shoes, thank the Lord, because there are some people without legs.” This is even more terrifying.

Goldstein is interviewing a man at a bus stop who says he just got out of prison earlier that day. He must have been in prison for a long time because he is wearing a T-shirt with Mr. T. on it and his running shoes have fluorescent green shoelaces.

Our neighbour puts the dogs up on the roof of the building whenever his new girlfriend comes over. She is terrified of dogs. They move around up there and peer over the edge of the roof, looking like gargoyles that have come to life.

Goldstein is reading a scientific journal from the University of Milwaukee or some place like that. There is an essay about a man who just came out of a coma that he had been in since 1991. The biggest shock, he said, was the way that Luke Perry looks now.

The man in the park shows me the memoir he is working on. It is in a tiny black telephone book. I figure he must have tiny handwriting.

I see the minister leaving the church. He carries a dark green schoolbag and rides a ten-speed bicycle. He looks like he cuts his own hair. When I knocked on his office door the other day, he was eating peanut butter sandwiches and drinking orange juice out of a Thermos. The Church is going out of business. If you’re thinking about getting saved, you might want to do it soon.

A man next to me in a church told me that his brother was serving 120 years in jail for manufacturing crystal meth. He said his brother didn’t want to hear anything about Jesus, but he was intending to send him some comic books to cheer him up.

A man in the subway is selling a twelve-page self-published book called, “How to be a Millionaire Before you Turn Forty.” He is wearing a mismatched suit and looks hungry.

Zuuzuu and I go to the zoo. There is nothing as beautiful as a giraffe in captivity. The Pentecostal preachers from my childhood were right. Evil can come in charming and wondrous forms.

The swan follows our paddleboat as Goldstein sits on the back tossing bits of hot dog bun at it. Whenever it gets too close, he yells for us to paddle faster. We are playing a dangerous game, he says.

At the beach, on the edge of the city, Goldstein wears a pair of flip-flops for the first time in his life. They keep falling off his feet. He leaves his dress shoes and black socks in the trunk of the car. He is wearing a pair of bathing trunks that his father gave him. His father got them for free when he was a member of the 119th Street Y in 1967.

Ever since he was about 12, he has been dressing like an old man. He would carry his books to high school in a briefcase so that he and his friends could get into the strip club on the way home.

Crouching on the sand, Goldstein writes ideas on the back of grocery bills and tucks them in his wallet. He looks at a seagull suspiciously as he digs a hole near the towel to hide his belongings in.

A wave knocks Goldstein over and he spends the next day consulting pharmacists about getting the water out of his ear.

Goldstein and Zuuzuu decide to go for a run along the river one morning. They come back in a taxi cab.

Goldstein is buying bootleg movies from a seven-year-old kid dressed in red shorts and no shirt. Goldstein asks if he has a copy of The Bridge on the River Kwai. The kid recommends Live Free or Die Hard.

Goldstein says that in the high school band they made him play a broken glockenspiel because he had no musical talent. He said that when he took it home in his briefcase kids ran out of their houses thinking the ice cream truck was passing through.

A lot of kids in our neighbourhood go to the Fine Arts school. They stand on their balconies and play their trumpets and tubas in the early evening. I imagine it’s what the band on the deck of the Titanic sounded like as they started to get more and more nervous about dying.

A red hen walks down the sidewalk past us. The hen tries to play it cool and not make eye contact. She is trying a little too hard to act normal, the way that certain drug dealers do.

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