The Smartest Man in Covent Garden

The electric guitarist has finally gathered
an audience that applauds loudly when
he finishes playing "Summertime" with six
notes where one should be. I know that his

appeal is largely in the amplification, but
he is at least drowning out the computer
chip calliope music of the Golden Victorian
carousel that draws in all the children who

don’t know any better. The Bedford Chambers crowd
goes wild for a magician’s card trick. I know
how it is done. Others are rhapsodizing over the
meat and kidney pie, which helps explain

the current obesity crisis. I will grudgingly
admit that the street performers who paint themselves
silver and pretend to be statues have extreme
patience, but can that really be described

as a talent? Young women pass by in low-cut
blouses and push-up brassieres. The middle-aged man
at the next table wearing a silver bracelet is
letting his much younger Asian accomplice

paint his fingernails. This teeming
effluvia cries out, needy
wanting, craving companionship
aching to connect but not

me, because I am the smartest man in Covent Garden.

Originally published by The Journal (UK), Summer 2008