It's Christmas eve in the city.
Stepping outside in my neighborhood, I find it a ghost town because so many of my neighbors are students who have fled to the bosom of family for the duration. Sure that there will be activity on Broad Street, I decide to walk it down to the Boulevard.
Looking to see what's open provides a fascinating snapshot of Richmond consumerism. The treasure trove that is the Richmond Book Shop is open, highly unusual for them before 2:00. I've already shopped there twice for presents this season, so today I just wave.
As I cross Lombardy, a man calls to me, "Has your husband told you today that you have the sexiest walk around? I've been watching you since the corner! Merry Christmas!"
My first Christmas compliment.
Enigma Tattoo is open for your last minute tattooing and piercing needs. So is Ahmed's Barber Shop, although the middle eastern man (presumably Ahmed) staring out the front window looks bored to tears with not a single customer looking for a haircut.
Lee's Chicken is understandably doing a booming business, while Arby's not so much. The drive-thru line at McDonald's is around the building.
There's a steady stream of customers going in and out of Pleasant's Hardware, no doubt because they carry almost anything, as Richmonders have known for generations.
I'm surprised to see that the Science Museum is open with people coming and going, although it makes perfect sense. What a wonderful way to amuse little ones on a day that stretches interminably for them?
Along the way, I come up behind two homeless men ambling along, the one telling the other, "CVS is a long way off, friend." I happen to know it's less than a mile at that point, but I pass them rather than saying anything. When I pass them on my way back east, they still haven't made it to CVS yet.
The street vendor at CVS looks bored, his wares covered in plastic because of the rain. I feel bad for him if he's trying to make some last minute Christmas money, so I smile and say, "Happy holidays!"
"Merry Christmas, baby!" he says with a mile-wide grin.
Back at you, Richmond.