Outside Wal-Mart, the sidewalk was sloppy with wet Milk Duds and tears, the sky about to split.
"Again? Don't worry, sweetie, we'll get you another ice cream cone." She was trying to reassure last week's empty napkin, failing entirely to grasp the present.
Tears dripped steadily from the crushed carton, their salt a brief costume sugar ball for the swarming ants.
The concrete was cooling. I had to get it out now. I rubbed my ring, blew my nose, and tried to spit.
"You're stepping on my..."
A shoulder-tap turned me around. An aproned greeter eclipsed his toothless grin with a mountained cone, the wrinkled valleys of one hand running with chocolate, the other with vanilla.
"I saw what happened," he began, smooshing a pile of Milk Duds under his loafer and orbiting my head with the planet-sized cone.
Frustrated, I tried to wave him away, but he just waved back.
There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by
ridicule, howsoever poor and witless. Observe the ass, for instance: his
character is about perfect, he is the choicest spirit among all the humbler
animals, yet see what ridicule has brought him to. Instead of feeling
complimented when we are called an ass, we are left in doubt.
-- Mark Twain, "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"
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