I am in Boston, Massachusetts. I am Christmas shopping with my girlfriend's best friend. It's snowing a very pretty snow.

I think for the first time (certainly not the last) these two thoughts, in rapid succession:

  • when we talk about weather in english, we say "it's raining, it's snowing a very pretty snow" and so forth. same in german: "es regnet. es schneet eine schoene schnee." "it is" represents...

  • there's no good word for what "it" represents. the atmosphere, maybe, or the sky. but we think weather independent of the sky. when it snows, weather is all around you. you can see it. it lands on you, and you shake it off. weather is snowing today.

  • I am standing outside Quincy Market with Nicole. I'm drinking coffee, we're both smoking cigarettes. Across an intersection we can see Government Center covered in snow.

    A man approaches. He appears to be a half-step above homeless but very, very far from homeowner. We notice him when he is about twenty feet away. He seems fixated on me - he doesn't even glance at Nicole.

    When he is ten feet away and closing, he says:

    "Mister, you look like you've got the strength, speed and stamina of an Italian stallion."

    By the time he's finished the sentence, he's right in front of me.

    "I'm not Italian, if that's what you're getting at." I have no idea what to say.

    He rubs his stubbly chin, then fetches a pack of cigarettes from his pocket.

    "Cigarette?" he says.

    I hold mine aloft. "Got one, thanks."

    "I usually smoke two at once. One for each lung, you know?"

    I chuckle dutifully.

    "You know, I haven't seen my wife in twelve years?"

    He looks into the distance. I'm silent.

    "Yeah. Her name was Carrie. We were in Chicago. It was snowing, like this." He holds out a hand to indicate the falling snow. "We were Christmas shopping, and we got into a crowd, and I just lost her. One minute she was there, and then I turned around, and then she was gone. And she was a frail thing, you know?"

    The man is silent for a moment.

    "She didn't like sex..." Pause. Shrug. "So we didn't have any."

    He turns his back to us and walks away.

    Nicole and I don't speak for a long time. I finish my coffee, and we both smoke our cigarettes.

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