Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sepia Saturday 343: Through a window

The things you see looking through a window.....

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper


The three men are fully clothed, long sleeves,
even hats, though it’s indoors, and brightly lit,
and there’s a woman. The woman is wearing
a short-sleeved red dress cut to expose her arms,
a curve of her creamy chest; she’s contemplating
a cigarette in her right hand, thinking that
her companion has finally left his wife but
can she trust him? Her heavy-lidded eyes,
pouty lipsticked mouth, she has the redhead’s
true pallor like skim milk, damned good-looking
and she guesses she knows it, but what exactly
has it gotten her so far, and where? — he’ll start
to feel guilty in a few days, she knows
the signs, an actual smell, sweaty, rancid, like
dirty socks; he’ll slip away to make telephone calls
and she swears she isn’t going to go through that
again, isn’t going to break down crying or begging
nor is she going to scream at him, she’s finished
with all that. And he’s silent beside her,
not the kind to talk much but he’s thinking
thank God he made the right move at last,
he’s a little dazed like a man in a dream — 
is this a dream? — so much that’s wide, still,
mute, horizontal, and the counterman in white,
stooped as he is and unmoving, and the man
on the other stool unmoving except to sip
his coffee; but he’s feeling pretty good,
it’s primarily relief, this time he’s sure
as h*** going to make it work, he owes it to her
and to himself. . . . And she’s thinking
the light in this place is too bright, probably
not very flattering, she hates it when her lipstick
wears off and her makeup gets caked, she’d like 
to use a ladies’ room but there isn’t one here
and . . . how long before a gas station opens? — 
it’s the middle of the night and she has a feeling
time is never going to budge. This time
though she isn’t going to demean herself — 
he starts in about his wife, his kids, how
he let them down, they trusted him and he let
them down, she’ll slam out of the g*******d room
and if he calls her Sugar or Baby in that voice,
running his hands over her like he has the right,
she’ll slap his face hard, You know I hate that: STOP!
And he’ll stop. He’d better. The angrier
she gets the stiller she is, hasn’t said a word
for the past ten minutes, not a strand
of her hair stirs, and it smells a little like ashes
or like the henna she uses to brighten it, but
the smell is faint or anyway, crazy for her
like he is, he doesn’t notice, or mind — 
burying his hot face in her neck. . . . She’s still contemplating
the cigarette burning in her hand,
the counterman is still stooped gaping
at her, and he doesn’t mind that, why not,
as long as she doesn’t look back, in fact
he’s thinking he’s the luckiest man in the world
so why isn’t he happier?

~ Joyce Carol Oates, born 1938, American poet, novelist, and essayist
I've always wondered about those 5 cent cigars, "Phillies" on the sign over the window. Here's what wikipedia says.

Phillies is a brand of American-made cigars, originally made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from which the brand takes its name. Phillies cigars, originally produced by Bayuk Cigars, Inc., are presently manufactured by Altadis U.S.A., Inc., the American subsidiary of Spanish-based Altadis S.A., which is in turn owned by Imperial Tobacco.[1]
The original cigar, introduced by the Bayuk brothers [2] in 1910, was named the Philadelphia Hand Made and popularly shortened by the smoking public to "Phillies", a nickname that eventually became the brand name.[3]
Phillies come in several sizes: Black Max, Blunt, Cheroot, Cigarillo, Mexicali Slim, Mini Blunt, Panatella, Perfecto, Sweet, Tip, Titan and now Phillies Finest.
Phillies Blunt, often Phillie Blunt or simply blunt, is a popular name for a particular size of Phillies cigars, marketed as "Blunts", which are commonly sold at convenience stores and gas stations, as well as specialized smoke shops. Since the 1980s, this name has come to refer to all "marijuana cigars". An inexpensive cigar with a tough wrapper, it is often emptied and re-rolled with other smoking mixtures, the most common being marijuana. With its variety of flavors, a new market for blunt wraps, a prepared tobacco leaf paper similar to rolling papers, were introduced.
Phillies Blunt cigars are available in several flavors, including banana, berry, chocolate aroma, coconut, coffee, cognac, greene de menthe, honey, mango, peach, piña colada, rum, sambuca, sour apple, strawberry, sweet vanilla, sugar, tequila, watermelon, grape, and cinnamon. Barrel O' Blunt cigars are Phillies Blunts packaged in 50-pack "barrels". Phillies cigars also produces Mini Blunts. Single cigars are nicknamed "loose-ees" or "Loosies" (referring to a cigar that is loose from the box or pack and sold individually).

For more stories about work and play and gazing out or into windows, check out Sepia Saturday.


  1. I'll never look at that painting the same way again !

  2. I love that painting, and the comments by Oates, which I'd read sometime in art school. But the cigar information is new to me! Thanks for thinking outside the box!