Chicago Vignette no.2 / by Deborah Clague

"Are you two sisters?"

The man approached us as we were taking selfies reflected in the mirrored surface of Cloud Gate. He was older, probably late 50s, of short stature, and had a jovial manner to him. We weren't concerned that he would rob us or accuse us of being crackheads, so we decided to amuse ourselves and entertain him. "No," I replied. "but we get that often."

Quite often, in fact. My best friend, travel partner and accomplice in crime could be my sibling: we are both tall, share the same body type (and, conveniently, clothing), have wavy bronde hair and wear glasses (she sports the cat-eye, while I go for the standard-issue designer black frames). Only in personality were we antipodean: my friend is a truly free-spirit with literally no fucks to give about anything, whereas I am much more reserved, shy and cautious. 

The man seemed to appreciate that we were receptive. I suspected that he visited the site every Sunday to converse with strangers, probably women. He seemed to have lines rehearsed like a theatre actor, anticipating our responses in advance and always coming up with appropriate witty retorts. I learned he was originally from India and now lived in Chicago, teaching Pharmacy at a local university. He was well-travelled and talked of his favourite – and least favourite – cities in the world. 

"Paris is overrated." he ranted. "The people of France are so rude and condescending. Everything there is expensive because they think they are the best in the world. Who are they to think that? I will never go back there."

He went on and on (and on) about his hatred for the country and its snooty citizens until finally taking a moment to catch his breath with the query "So tell me, what is your favourite place?" 

"France." I replied.