We walked down the drive, away from The Citadel and made it about halfway when The Student looked to the right and was off in a mad dash, camera held out in front of him.
I looked to where he was going and saw about twenty people scattered around a section of the park that had been invaded by snowmen. In a treeless, semi-hilly space there were about fifty snowmen and women in varying shapes, sizes, and stages of undress. That’s right, there were hooker snowpeople.
The one I saw was about fifty yards away from where The Student and I stopped. He immediately bolted and treated each snowperson as if it were a model and he was making art. I wasn’t sure what possessed him to take angled pictures of everything, playing around with all of the various shutter settings on his camera and acting, generally speaking, as if he was on the verge of being the next Ansel Adams.
(I don’t say that to be mean-spirited. When we first arrived in Lille, and he started on his almost Tourette’s-like picture-taking spree, I asked him what he was going to do with all of the pictures he was taking. “Probably nothing,” he said.
“You’re not going to submit them anywhere?”
“Oh Lord, no. I’ll just upload them to my computer. Maybe use them as desktops from time to time.”
It was the most trouble I’d ever seen anyone go to in order to create a computer desktop.)
I made a beeline down the center of the field bit of the park, not because I’d seen the prostitute snowman yet, but because I wasn’t interested in staring at snowmen, and all the benches were taken up by young couples who were really, really into making out. So I walked on, made it to a part of the park filled with evergreens right next to an iced-over pond, looked to my left, and there, right next to a couple of shrubs, was a snowwoman wearing a lacy red and black bra, garters going up the bottom snowball, and matching panties. Someone had even taken the time to apply mascara and lipstick to the head of the snowprostitute, and I had to stand there for about ten minutes so my brain could thoroughly work out all of the insanity needed to think to oneself “Hey, I should make a snowprostitute,” and then, further, I needed to fully understand the dedication to one’s craft needed in order to apply mascara and lipstick to a fucking snowman.
It goes without saying that I had to sit down.
The Student found me a while later, still staring at the snowstitute, and said, “Ah, how lewd,” before taking a couple pictures. “Well, you ready?”
“What? We just got here. There are so many other snowmen to see.”
The Student tapped his camera. “And I’ve documented them all. Even the snowbear mauling the snowchild.” He shook his head. “Sometimes I worry about the state of humanity.”
“Personally, I think this is a good sign.”
I got up, dusted the snow off my jacket, and we started walking back towards the drive. “Well, think about it. In the States, especially Tennessee, what’s the general reaction to snowfall?”
“Chaos,” The Student said without any hesitation. Then he nodded, as if affirming the gut reaction put forward by his brain. “Yes. I was talking to my mother last night on Skype, and she told me about the Hell that she went through when she had to run to Kroger to pick up eggs. Apparently, she had to fight someone off a la Black Friday. Mishegas,” He finished, shaking his head.
“And yet,” I said, “take a look around you at these streets, at this park. Do you see the same madness reflected in the Frenchies’ eyes? In their actions? Nay, I think not. Instead, they go out and build snowmen, as if it’s a genetic or evolutionary reaction to seeing snow. This, my friend, is what humanity needs to strive for.”
“More being in a state of mind where it is acceptable to express glee at things that, well, inspire glee. None of this repression of the inner child malarkey we have back in the States. You want to go out and build snowmen? By God, go out and build snowmen!”
“I don’t think anyone’s keeping anyone from building snowmen, Narrator.”
“Oh, they are.”
“I—” he shook his head. “Yeah, sure. Okay.”A burst of wind hit us from the northwest and we cursed in chorus.