Beauty and the ginger beard.

I saw it coming.

I willed him to just keep walking; the man with the flannel shirt and shocking red beard and the joint perched jauntily in one hand. Move along, move along, nothing to see here. But he was slowing already, drifting over to where I stood with my camera and bringing with him the acrid stench of cheap weed and stale body odor.

I tried to ignore him. The sun had set and I was losing light fast. I adjusted my settings and snapped off a few more shots.

But when I pulled back from the viewfinder, he was at my shoulder, staring at me expectantly. “…Eez eet beauteeful?” he asked in a startlingly thick French accent.

When I didn’t respond, he gestured toward the rapidly dimming scene and then at my camera. “Eez eet beauteeful?” he repeated. I paused, weighing my options; I didn’t need a repeat of Angry Tree Lady. Eventually I shrugged noncommittally and said “I think so,” and returned my attention to the camera.

He nodded and turned away – I assumed to leave – but he only wandered a short distance before stopping again. I could see him in my peripheral vision standing some feet away, looking intently back and forth between my subject and I as if trying to solve some sort of advanced mathematical equation.

A few more shots and adjustments later, I finally arrived at an image I was happy with. Red Beard perked up visibly as I began packing up my gear. I could see the anticipation in his eyes before the question was out of his mouth.

“Eet eez beauteeful?” Such hope infused into the words.

This time I didn’t hesitate. “Yes,” I replied, smiling despite myself.

At that he grinned, and threw his arms outward as if to embrace the sky. And he strolled away down the darkening road, whistling into the evening air.

NanoPoblano, Day 13: If you have a latex allergy, I’ve got bad news for you.

I’ve got something to tell you all, and it isn’t good. You may want to sit down. This may come as a bit of a shock.

It appears that condoms are, well, in EVERYTHING.

That sandwich you ate for lunch? Loaded up with condoms. The carbonated drink you washed it down with? Ditto.

Even the makeup you put on this morning was most likely chock full of condoms.

I know. I was floored by the news too.

And you thought yoga mats in your Subway sandwiches were bad.

On the bright side, I guess, if you’re the type to use Reddi-Wip to get kinky in the bedroom then hey, bonus contraceptive properties!

(And they call me a pessimist!)

Still, I know this is one hell of a bombshell to drop on you. I’m sorry if you were reading this while eating and suddenly realized you had a mouthful of half-masticated condoms. Feel free to send me your therapy bills. I won’t pay them, but I promise I’ll feel really, really bad about how much money my writing cost you.

But it’s true. Really. This girl in my French class back in university did a whole presentation on it. I was thinking about her today and suddenly realized, holy shit, people need to know! I mean, this chick was able to talk for a full half hour about how condoms were in hundreds of thousands of consumer products that we just unthinkingly take into our bodies and smear on our faces; like, how has this not made national headlin-

Oh, shoot. Hang on a tick.

Um, yeah. Never mind. Cancel the freakouts.

I forgot the part where our professeur finally took pity on the girl and informed her that he was fairly sure she had intended to give her presentation on the potential dangers of conservateurs, or preservatives, in consumer products…

…and not preservatifs, as she was repeating over and over, which meant something very, very different.

False alarm. Carry on.