Just not enough attention is given to the old street bench these days, if it ever was. Here is your classic example in this city. Three stained planks fastened by sturdy bolts and wrought iron, and all weighted firmly to the ground. Their plainness is their beauty. Their lack of finess their class. The finest specimens lean awkwardly in one direction or another, always escaping perfection, and are worn and discolored at the edges, scuffed by the soles of shoes and rubbing of clothes. They sport pigeon droppings, resin stains from the trees above, and are tattooed with colorful messages of love, hate and the Spanish political system. They are havens for the elderly, beds for the poor, hangouts for the group of friends, and nocturnal hideaways for young lovers.
They have harbored me in summery moments of extreme heat, and provided a place for a break from a long walk, when I didn’t feel like going into a café. They have even saved me from certain moments of peril. Just the other day, my daughters wanted to invade Claire’s, and the presence of one of these fine friends made that possible. I let the girls run amok inside so that they could pinch and fondle every last necklace and purse in the store, while I spread my arms out freely over the wooden ridge of the backrest, and peacefully watched the people go by like minutes of time.