About a week ago I was at a large American retail chain buying epsom salt and lighter fluid. It was the middle of the week and so hardly anyone was there. I walked alone through empty aisles, taking my godforsaken time because I didn’t want to be anywhere at all just then, and seeing as though I already was somewhere, I figured I would just stay there for a little while. And it was then I saw the kind of person you tend to see every now and then, which is a person dressed in all black. You can always tell when it’s deliberate that someone is wearing all black, and I say this with some degree of authority I guess because I am one of those people. I won’t get into what it means or can mean, because it’s all the same really, even when it doesn’t mean anything at all. Point is: There is an unmistakable “yeah dude” look you get from your fellow people when you see them out there in the wild world. If nothing else, you’ve both got that: your clothes are one solid color, which isn’t even really a color at all because it represents the absence of color. There are things both interesting and boring that go along with that, but at the very least there is a sort of spiritual common ground. Or whatever!

Anyway, on this particular night this particular person was a woman in her mid-forties. She looked a little depressed. It was clear that the black she had on was a choice, and probably one that she made a long time ago. She had on a sort of uniform is what I’m saying, and despite her sadness she looked comfortable in it. Maybe, just then, it was the only thing that made her feel comfortable at all.

In a quiet voice I said a harmless thing that I sometimes say to my black-clad friends when I’m alone and lonely. I said:

“Hey. I’ll see you at the meeting next week.”

Because we had already exchanged the “yeah dude” glance, she immediately understood my stupid joke.

“Ah yes, the black.” And then she squinted at my chest. She read my T-shirt:

“Dude. KMFDM. Nice shirt.”

I said, “Yeah dude.” And we both kept on walking! We felt less alone!!

And if a brawl had broken out a few minutes later. . . ? Well, let’s just say I know whose side I woulda been on!!!