Academic journal article Hecate

The Sock Seller's Socks, the Plum Picker's Plums

Academic journal article Hecate

The Sock Seller's Socks, the Plum Picker's Plums

Article excerpt

The sock-seller is making me laugh as I stroll and he struts through Skopje city park. The sock-seller in his crocodile shoes, always a pointed toe's length in front, telling me his wise-fool, guest-worker stories from Germany; about the lies he had to tell to get the jobs.

"i told them: Yes, of course. My family and I are master cowwashers from generations. We shampoo and condition cows morning and night. Sheep. Goats. Roosters. Hens. I can shampoo anything you want. Believe me!"

Naturally, when we come to it, we sit ourselves on a bench, by a lake, in the park and lick the ice-creams the sock-seller has insisted he buy for me, for him, for us. Then, when the ice-creams are licked, had and done, the sock-seller, in a relaxed way, lifts one foot onto one thigh so that his pants pull up and expose one sock.

It is thin and patched and worn as you would expect. Just as the carfixer's car is always in the garage; and the plumber's tap always has a drip; and the dog-catcher's dog is too-often lost; and the backcracker's back always has a crick. And the story-collector can never think of what to say next in a conversation. As it is with me now. I just listen, encourage and nod.

In this lull, predictably, the sock-seller is faking some kind of yawn. He is stretching his arms up behind his head; then out to the sides; then onto the back of the bench and around my shoulders, not touching, but almost.

Now, I know what he's doing. But does he know what I'm doing? Even more importantly, do I know? Do I know what I will be expected to do in return? I do. And I won't. But does he know that I won't? I don't think he does. He will go on and on until he is sure. It's like a drug; I just want his stories. I want them now.

"After I was a cow-washer, I went to Berlin and became a lambcutter and a beef-shaver at a döner kebab's."

He tells me what I would like to hear: about the kilos of meat he had to kick with the point of his crocodile shoe under the stainless steel as he learned his trade; while his boss, who thought he'd employed a professional, was looking the other way. …

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