Monday, February 16, 2009

Twenty Twenty Vision

Remember the last time you went to have your eyes examined? The optometrist places your head so that the chin is resting on a little support thingie. Then he slides over this big apparatus which tests for various lens strengths. “Look through here, “ he says, “which is better? One....or Two. Now again, Two....or One?”

I thought about that last night in the context of which typical Sunday evening experience was better for me, One or Two.

Lens One:
Last night, I sat in the town square park on a wrought iron park bench watching the Municipal Band (love those tubas). Even though the day had been hot, the evening—at 7 p.m.--was pleasant, with a light breeze blowing off the Gulf. Families were out with their kids. An older gentleman sits down next to me on the bench, and we begin a conversation about Campeche's weather and hurricanes and the cost of living. His wife arrives a few minutes later and they scuttle off. Snapshots: a little boy cruising on his tricycle with a pull toy trailing behind. A balloon vendor walking around, followed by a roving cotton candy seller. Couples, old couples, walking around the bandstand holding hands. A little girl in her starched pink Sunday-best dress. The (electrified) gaslights lit. The lower level of the double-decker bandstand is an open-air cafe, where you can order “just a lemonade, please” and they're perfectly happy to serve you. A couple of girls training the tiniest poodle puppy I've ever seen, bouncing along behind them. The cathedral lit up like a pastry confection, doors open to all. The streets on all four sides of the square are closed to traffic, and the long stretch in front of the church is given over to 10 tables or so of the local variant of Bingo, “Campeche Lottery”: same idea, just different pictures in the squares instead of B-5, etc. The “caller” turning the handle of an enclosed basket with the various lots, drawing them one by one and calling the names into a microphone. And the ladies (almost all players were women) playing multiple cards with exactly the same intensity as you'd see back home in a church basement bingo hall or casino. A few street vendor ladies with carts selling cookies and cakes made at home. I swear Norman Rockwell would grab his paintbrushes. It is a little slice of 1940. Very sweet and charmingly old fashioned.

Lens Two
Rod at home back in Phoenix. It's Sunday night. I walk the dog, watch a little TV, maybe iron a shirt for work Monday. So, which is better One or Two? Again, Two or One. You guess.