Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Weights and measures

I am on a run Saturday and I veer from my normal route, taking the bridge across the river. All these years in this city and I've never really been west of downtown on foot, can that be right? This stretch of riverfront was developed recently and it retains a spooky Disneyworld newness. Soon the paved walkways will freckle black with chewing gum, and shift and split from reaching roots. For now though, you can still see math in the curving paths and thoughtfully placed shrubs, a computer rendering come to life.

The road I'm taking abuts the children's science museum, and in the museum's "backyard" I spot the outdoor exhibits left unexplored on a dreary day like this. A blue Studebaker-type car is suspended a foot off the ground. A huge granite sphere sits untouched. I can't remember what you're supposed to do with them, but they are a strange sight out here, all alone in the chill.

Now there's a metal plate in my path, the length of two cars. A truck scale, the purple sign to one side reading 0.0 lb in red digital display. And then I do a weird thing. I step on it.

It feels transgressive, naked. Which is funny, because naked is usually what I am when I practice this fraught rite of self-measuring. Naked and secluded behind a closed door. Shoes come off. Hair ties are removed. Reader, I take off my rings before I step on my bathroom scale.

Yet here I am, sneaker-clad, pullover zipped up to my chin, right where any passerby could see, could then know. The red number on the truck scale is the same number I see at home. It is greater than many whole numbers, though it is much less than, I imagine, a truck.

I start laughing madly, the fog-eaten skyline at my back. I almost wish someone would walk past. "This is how much space I take up!" I would shout as they avoided eye contact. "Plus the force of gravity."


  1. This is beautiful.

    I used to refuse to weigh myself after a shower, because the water in my hair (I reasoned) would wreak havoc on my self-esteem. I've been slowly weaning myself off of that particular brand of crazy.

  2. whoa. (take that as you will. i love this.)