Glendale Library: Nothing Better to Do than...Spit

A windy November Sunday afternoon at about 3 PM waiting in front of the Glendale Public Library.

I had just biked from my abode in Panorama City. I was waiting to tutor a high school student from a Catholic high school, the son of one of my dad's contacts. This was the first time I was going to meet them. What was I going to tutor him in? Writing of course.

I didn't know how the high school student or how his accompanying mother looked like, so I told them that I would meet them in front of the Glendale Central Library.

I wanted to look studious and serious when they met me, so I made myself comfortable in this rounded seating pit with two levels intended for sitting and standing right in front of the library. Took a seat at what I thought was a visible center of the pit and the library entrance, a panopticonical view. I cranked open my notebook and started writing.

About 5 feet away from me to my right is some white guy standing up and smoking.

About 20 feet away from me to my left and also sitting on one step of the pit, feet on the level below, an Armenian teenager, nodding down and spitting.

After about 10 minutes of writing, another white guy comes in. He bums a smoke off that other white guy. They talk about the library and how it should be open for longer than 1-5. "People need to do research." Turns out that the smoker is a writer, trying to get published and resorting to getting self-published and the smoke-bummer-offer is a grad student in literature. Heh, maybe I should be in that conversation.

After the two leave, I could finally stop eavesdropping and concentrate on my writing. Though I do shoot a frequent eye-swoop of the landscape for sight of a Filipino son and his mother.

However, to the left of me, that teenager is still there to the left of me. Spitting.

Now that I have nothing else to focus on, I notice that. At about every 30 second interval, this teenager would just discharge any saliva he had in his mouth at a given point. He wasn't hacking loogies and conjuring up balls of spit. What he seemed to be doing was out of habit, maybe even hobby.

There was a bit of a dampened part of the level directly beneath him and between his shoes. It's as if it rained in one section of the pit.

He didn't appear to be sick.

What was even more peculiar is that he didn't even have an iPod, a CD Player, a book, a backpack, anything else to distract him. It was just him, his thoughts (I suppose), his head dug down, and his 30-second spits.


[30 seconds]


[30 seconds]


[30 seconds]


Jesus Christ, did this kid have anything better to do?

In past years, maybe I wouldn't have been so annoyed, but trying to write, as well as being concerned about the public space, and writing about the public space, I guess I've become sensitized to some things.

So with that, I tried to sympathize with him...a bit. I do remember a time when I had this habit of spitting everywhere. I was probably in grade school, a bit younger than he was.

Why'd I do it? Probably to establish myself as a cool teenager in what I thought was a subtle way, but hold on that's not to be dismissed as a trivial concern.

I noticed that athletes spat all the time. At hockey games, the dudes were spitting so much on ice that they all fell on nonetheless. At baseball games, players were spitting out tobacco and sunflower seeds. I love(d) David's salty-ass sunflower seeds. Everyone cool and established in my world was just spitting like it was nothing. I guess it was OK for me to do it, maybe people would confuse me for an athlete or at least notice how cool I was for spitting like an athlete. After a while of spitting, spitting came so naturally. It was nasty to have my own saliva in my mouth.

About 10 minutes into his routine, the teenager having my full awareness finally called it quits. He got up and walked across the street without checking any cellular phone, or any hesitation. It was like he was programmed to spit at Glendale Public Library from 3:30 - 4:00, and was just moving on to the next engagement.

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