Two funny things, actually, on two occasions within the past week:
1. It appeared that my car was eating a pizza. No one was around, but there was a paper plate with a slice of cheese pizza on the hood, just sitting there peacefully. There was maybe one bite out of it.
I looked around. I didn’t want to deprive my car—or, more likely, a nearby human—of a tasty snack, but I also needed to go.
Finally a man walked up. “This your car? Sorry about that.”
“I’m sorry it’s not cleaner,” I said.
You know the phrase, “so clean you could eat off it.” That doesn’t apply to my car. My hood was covered in dust and bird shit. Really, any other car on the block would have been a cleaner choice, but maybe Honda Civics are just the right height for eating.
2. My car was parked next to the mural that adorns the side of Aceptamos Estampillas. A chunk of the mural—which is already pretty graffiti-wracked—had fallen to the ground.
Now, I love murals probably more than the average person. I wrote a 25-page term paper on the topic in college, which is what nerdy middle-class white girls do when they really love something. If I’d been a member of a different demographic (specifically one that can draw things bigger than two inches high), I would have been a street artist. So my first choice, of course, would be for the mural not to get all graffitied and broken (although there’s a theory—‘cuz I’m down with mural theory—that says murals stay untouched as long as they serve the community, and are sort of organically eaten when they cease to do so).
But…since it was falling apart…and no one was around…I decided that I could provide a good home to the chunk that lay on the sidewalk. I picked it up and opened my trunk. At which point I heard voices behind me. I heard a “she” in there somewhere and worried that they were talking about me, the Mural Stealer.
Without turning around to face them, I looked up at the mural and sort of held the chunk up to it, like I was trying to figure out if I could stick it back on. I wanted them to see that I was wrestling with a moral dilemma here, that it’s not like I had chiseled the piece off or something.
“Are you gonna take it?” One of them asked. They were two boys, 15-ish, dressed like basketball players but on the short side.
“If I leave it here, do you think they’ll fix it?” I asked, as if the boys had any connection whatsoever to the mural or the store. “Because if they would, I’d totally leave it.”
“Nah, they’re going to paint over the whole wall,” said the boy with red shorts and matching terrycloth headband. I had no idea how he knew this. Maybe there was a local grapevine I wasn’t part of. Or maybe he just knew everything because he was a teenager. “You should take it.”
“I just don’t want it to go to waste. It’s so cool. I was thinking I could put it up somewhere.”
“You should take it,” he said again. “You draw?”
“A little bit.”
“Yeah, me too, I do art,” he said.
“Yeah?” I said. “Maybe when they paint the wall, you can paint a new mural on it.”
That’s the ending I’m hoping for. Maybe the magical grapevine will allow for it. In the meantime, I’ve decided I have local approval for my Mural Stealing, thanks to my poll of two. So it looks like the mermaid painting will now have a giant brown eyeball in the middle of it.