Virgin Mary's and Dead Pedestrians

Saturday, my new work friend, Stephanie, met me at the Germantown train line and we drove to this huge thrift store Celia told me about. I am spoiled by Circle Thrift because I now get overwhelmed when clothes aren't organized at least by color. Luckily, I had visited CT before going to the station and bought a pair of black Mary Janes, a tshirt with a unicorn on it that reads "Florida," and a Virgin Mary. The t-shirt I will only wear to work out in. It is just like the kind I used to have to make when I worked at a beach store in Clearwater. People could come in an pick from 100 plus transfers and then I would have to iron it on without burning anything. The Virgin Mary attracted me for sort of the same nostalgic reason. VM are omnipresent in South Philadelphia windows; virtually every other window features at least one Mary with her hands out as if she are saying, What? I didn't ask to be put here. I bought one to put in my window for three reasons (1). I kind of like the Virgin Mary; (2). I have this idea that no one will break into my house if the VM is watching them; (3). I want to fit in with my neighbors. Stephanie thought of a fourth reason: A potential crook might assume from the statue that I'm a grandma and have nothing much to steal aside from musty afghans. Unfortunately, shortly after I bought the Mary, I discovered that her head had fallen off. Not to worry, I glued it back on with wood glue later in the day. She wears the traditional blue robe and has sparkles around her neck and waist. Whoever owned her before painted in her eyes and gave her a very red dot of a mouth so she looks like she's just finished feasting on the blood of a recently slaughtered lamb. We didn't find much at the Germantown store (I bought a tank top I'll never wear for $1.50 and Stephanie bought 3 books at a quarter each. I can't remember the other two, but one was Updike's Rabbit Redux), but we did stop at this cool place on the way back called Material Culture; a gigantic storeroom with interesting and affordable furniture with sort of an Eastern theme. They even offered us chocolate cake, coffee, and then a man was circling around with warm tea in clear glasses. It was a nice find.

Today, I went out again to the coffee shop and to walk around. I only had $5 (my new bank card still hasn't been mailed to me) and so had to ration out my spending. I resisted a couple of impulses to buy yet more crap from Urban Outfitters. I was looking for Buffalo Exchange when I passed a woman who was lying prone on her back on the sidewalk with a little bit of something coming out of the side of her mouth. I thought it might be part of the sandwich she was still holding in her hand. Her eyes were half open and she had her knees up, but she looked strange--possibly dead. She was with another man with a walker, but he didn't say anything and didn't seem distressed in any way. She was also wearing a nightgown. Her hair was cut short and she had these awful badly done tattoos on her arms which were lying open. She was older, maybe in her late fifties or early sixties. I felt conflicted. Earlier, I had passed a man passed out in the grass near the Acme, but he's always there and just seems to be peacefully sleeping by the stop sign. This seemed different. I asked this guy who was passing by if he thought we should do anything. He said, About what? and kept going. There was an African American woman standing waiting for the bus and so I asked her the same thing. She said, "You know, I was just thinking that too, but I don't have a phone. That woman, she doesn't look like she's living anymore." I called 911 and suddenly became like someone on E.R. or Law and Order and said to the operator "I'm at 19th and Chestnut and there's a woman here who has suffered a possible drug overdose. Over." Someone else had called her in as well, because a fire truck pulled up before I even finished the call. I watched for a moment as the firmen bent over her and they were putting an oxygen mask on her face, so maybe she wasn't dead. The woman I had spoken to said, "Thank you. Thank you for doing that." I said, "Well, thank you for encouraging me. I might not have otherwise."

It's the City of Brotherly Love.

Comments

Liz said…
Wow. That's a hell of a weekend. I didn't see anyone passed out (or possibly dead) on the sidewalk. But I think if I'd stayed later at Jen's friends' party in Nashville, we might have seen someone passed out on the lawn...
Jessica Enoch said…
you're a lifesaver--you might get that scene into your detective novel. i love the virgin mary bit too. granny would be proud.

jess
Aimee said…
The VM's are seriously all over South Philly. Every other window has at least 1 or 2. I feel like neighbors must be competing a little--like, "My Mary is better than your Mary" kind of thing.
Drew said…
It would be cool if they made virgin mary christmas lights where each light is a little mary over a light bulb so you could string up the whole thing in your window and make the entire neighborhood jealous.
Aimee said…
That's a great idea. I'll look into it. Though it might make my house vulnerable to being egged by the Catholics.

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