16. Carolellen,
Portland, Oregon (USA)

The destruction of the stalagtites and stalagmites

I am attending a conference near an historical shopping center. In the midst of the charming place is a museum, glassed in; it is a 1950’s type cafe with red topped formica tables (with the metal banding around the edge), plus red chairs at the tables to match. The soda fountain is intact. The ads for the special of the day and the soup are on the chalk board. There’s a Santa face advertising Coca-Cola. The tables have the napkin dispensers and salt and pepper shakers. The thing that’s different is that there are white stalagtites hanging down from the ceiling and stalagmites growing up on the table tops. They look like sea anemones. Great care has been taken to preserve this little soda shop in the old part of town. There are now coffee boutiques and specialty shops all around this place. I find myself browsing through a little nook that specializes in silk ties and scarves plus coffee and teas. It’s all quite colorful. A fight breaks out in the corridor among ethnic gangs (wearing different colors... That's the only way to tell them apart), and before the police can break it up, they’ve fought and thrown one another through the protective glass partitions of the old soda fountain, destroying the delicate, fragile stalagtites and stalagmites. There is a sense of loss and sadness even among those youth.

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