side of Telegraph Avenue, and crossing Telegraph avenue smiled again in amazement at thegreat, elevated Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket to my right. When I returned with myquart of milk, the meeting was just breaking up.Twenty women, pretty and ugly, intelligent-East-Coast-Jew and stupid waitress, poured into the street, and twenty pairs of eyes looked at the ground with studiedindifference. What do you say to a naked man carrying a quart of milk, especially after your consciousness has been elevated? Tilly walked down the stairs wearing her “hot pants.” She had a voice that sounded like metal scraping concrete, but she hadextraordinary legs. I said “hi,” as I had for the past three months and she said “hi” back, but that was as far as I ever got. The only other times I had talked to her were when shewas trimming the giant hedge between our houses. When she was cutting the hedge, sheseemed to have a maniacal, malicious grin on her face and she almost literally talked to methrough the shears. But she almost always wore shorts and she really had incredible legs.In fact, I was so taken with her legs the first time I saw her, that I didn’t even notice that her left hand had been amputated from the wrist down. She handled the shears so deftly that itwas easy to overlook. I never got anywhere with her in those conversations and I alwaysfelt defeated somehow, and I would slink away with dry mouth and visions of her legsdancing in my head. Neither of us seemed to know the extent to which one can, or cannot build a relationship on legs.I turned the corner into our driveway. An old pickup truck with homemade woodside panels was blocking the driveway. It had large hand-painted lettering on the side,“Moving and Hauling.” It looked like it came straight from the set of a 1950’s
Amos ‘n Andy
television show. A very tall, thin black man named Rufus, about 35, was standing bythe front door of the truck. He was talking to a black high school student named Julianwho had silky, Hershey bar skin. Rufus grinned at me as I walked past and said with anuncle Tom voice, and a revolutionary smirk that he pretended to hide, that he wasn’t goingto block the driveway for long. There were two houses on our lot and he and 5 year oldRodney and Rodney’s mother and boyfriend lived in the front house.I walked up the wooden steps and across the deck and through the front door thatwe left open, night and day, even though we lived on 60th street, at the edge of the ghetto:there was nothing of value in the house to steal. Pinson was watching the Super Bowl onour five dollar television set. I mentioned, casually, that I had just said hello to Tilly.I knew that I would get the same reaction as usual, in fact it was so predictable thatI hesitated before saying anything. “Oh those legs. If I could only get my hands on them.”He stretched his hands out as if he were about to grab her tanned legs and massage them inmid-air.He spoke in a tiny voice that sounded like it was part of a dream and he rubbed hishands together like some miser thinking of his money, and his eyes glowed with inner fire.His girlfriend, Penelope, had very thin, milk-white legs. She also had very large breasts that I saw every night when she walked through my room to the bathroom, after sex.I walked past the television set and into the kitchen, ignoring his ecstasy. I pouredmilk into a large bowl of Cheerios, sliced a banana into it, put a gob of honey into the bowl,and then returned to the living room.“Are you working tonight?” I asked.