It was 52 degrees when I walked outside this morning and while that’s probably no fuss of a chill for you personally, wherever you are, it’s an arctic surprise for Miami and it made for a mood of general unease that was compounded when, about fifty yards into my walk, I was passing an apartment building and an SUV drove by at moderate speed, maybe 20 mph, and tossed a newspaper out the window.
I thought it was some kinda desecration or attack at first and I stopped and put my arms up in the defensive pose of like an underfed boxer—but you know what made me relax, the thing that clarified what was happening?
I never appreciated the distinction of that sound. Maybe it feels extra nostalgic for me because, here’s a confession you don’t need, I so dreaded pooping at my high school that I would wake up early as hell each day, 5 a.m. or sometimes earlier, so that I’d have enough time to eat and then poop—all before the 7:20 bell. And I’d go about the house before anybody was awake, eating my Fruity Pebbles and watching Sanford & Son recordings with plenty of time for a leisurely “movement.” At some point in these proceedings I would hear that thwack in the distance, out there in what so many novelists call “the predawn dark,” and when I’d hear the bundled and overstuffed Miami Herald hit the porch like that when it seemed the rest of the world was asleep it felt like that story—I think Kurt Vonnegut recounted it in an interview—about the last man on Earth who after so many years of isolation is walking through a shelled out post-apocalyptic suburbia—and he hears a phone ring.