9th Street is lined with trees. Trees never have to worry about what they wear or what women will think of it. They never spend a cent at Urban Outfitters or Wildman Vintage, trying to define a look that will impress strangers at bars. Oaks, Maples, a few others I know by sight but not by name; they always look impressive. Tomorrow Jamie and I are planning on shopping for clothes on Massachusetts St. Today I’m going there for a cup of coffee.
A FedEx truck turns left onto Arkansas Street, perhaps delivering chic and stylish clothes purchased on Amazon.com or eBay to a mid-priced house that may need a new coat of paint but still has a well-kept lawn. I’m tempted to nab a bagged copy of the Lawrence Journal-World that’s still in the driveway of someone who apparently reads the newspaper later in the day and not over breakfast, maybe so they’ll have more time to pore over the style section as they watch Project Runway.
The scenery changes. People filling up their tanks at the Kwik Shop. Cars in the drive-thru at the Burrito King, a mural of a Jayhawk, the mythical bird mascot of The University of Kansas, painted on the wall facing 9th–at the Burrito King, the Jawhawk wears a sombrero and craves burritos or soft tacos.
I cross Mississippi. People in the run-down but functional Payless Laundromat appear to have been waiting for their clothes all day. The clothes are not in a hurry, however. It looks like a laundry version of Hopper’s “Nighthawks” painting in there. An attractive girl on a bicycle wearing black spandex and a pink coat rides by on the sidewalk rather than in the bike lane. I don’t mind. Maybe it’s because I like the way her light brown hair lights up in the sun and seems to sparkle under the cloudless sky. I could stand to buy a new pair of pants, I guess. She probably reads VOGUE.
A few more blocks and I am officially downtown, resisting the alluring smell of freshly-baked bread coming from Wheatfields Bakery and the temptation to buy tea from House of Cha and am then at the corner of 9th and Mass, standing next to one of the oldest department stores in America, Weaver’s, established in 1857. The mannequins in the window display are mainly female, outnumbering the male mannequins 10 to 1.
It is too early for a cocktail, but not for coffee. The Bourgeois Pig serves both. The place is nearly empty, unlike at night, when the small interior is filled with drinking people and it’s impossible to find a place to sit. Right now, there are just a few people at the bar who seem to be friends with the barista and someone sitting at a table alone working diligently on his laptop computer. The coffee is more pricey than at most places downtown, which fits the Pig’s upscale image, but is on special for 50 cents off a cup. I pay the two dollars and sit out front on the patio.
There is the sound of construction from the covered parking lot across the street. A girl in a white fur-lined coat walks by, carrying a brown paper bag. A man with a long, white beard rides a bicycle out of the alleyway. The bike has a basket that seems to be filled with cogs and screws, mechanical things. Across the street, a young man wearing shorts and a coat walks by the US Bank. A steady stream of cars passes by, stopping periodically, waiting for the traffic light to change. At night, this street will be much busier than it is now, dressed differently. And I’ll have to find an outfit to match.