Sunday, October 02, 2005


We gather around the perimeter of the plaza on the public benches and tree planters, mostly making mid-afternoon appearances between the flash of business lunchers and the antic performances of those who draw with chalk and careen around us on scooters and bikes. It is the no-cover zone outside the tastefully-fenced outdoor cafe tables inside the ring of high-rent establishments offering international cuisines.

Unlike our fenced-in or walled-out companions, though, we are allowed the company of the most congenial residents of our community, and thus bring momentary cheer to passers by and pausers alike, as our four-legged friends bounce and sit, wag and wiggle in French, Portuguese and assorted dialects for treats, pats, and general bonhomie.

We are the unofficial deputies of direction, aiding tourists and new-comers foreign and domestic, as well as unacknowledged guardians of terriers and toddlers gone astray. We inform the inquisitive and reform the pubescent, all within our short tours of daily duties and pleasures in common. Coffee for the idiot and his regular paces, tips for the movers of pawns, and advice for the boarders of busses twice north and twice south in the hour, we constitute the core of unremitted essential services, the irregular brigade of redundancy.


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