“oh hey,” she said, “it’s a really touristy area, but since you’re gonna be passing through anyway, you might as well stop by pier 29, see the dragons. also, there’s a—”
“hold on,” i said. “i knew your city had mountains, but. dragons? uh, actual living dragons?”
“dude, it’s not a big deal. they’re there all the time. of course they’re majestic and everything, but they’re loud and cranky and mostly they lie around eating garbage. now and then the city council will talk about trying to make them roost somewhere else, but—”
“dragons,” i repeated. i knew it was making me sound like a rube, but it was a lot to take in. “you live in a city that has dragons.”
“no, it’s cool, we used to go see them when i was a little kid. it’s worth doing. but that whole area is mostly dragon-themed gift shops, and the commercialization is kind of a bummer. also, sometimes a dragon will melt somebody’s car and it’s a whole problem.”
"fairytale-style, giant scaly fire-breathing dragons.”
“honestly, i forget other cities don’t have them?” she said. "there’s a few other sites on the west coast where they gather. portland calls them wyverns, but that’s a portland thing.”
"chicago’s got, like, bunnies and songbirds,” i told her, “but otherwise it’s just your typical vermin. pigeons, rats, sphinxes—”
“sphinxes? what the hell.”
“oh, yeah, they nest in the el tunnels. sometimes a fucking sphinx will flap down out of nowhere, bring the whole train to a halt until the front car answers a riddle.”
“that sounds exciting,” she said.
“it’s the worst. your train winds up being twenty minutes late, and you just have to hang out hoping somebody up there read their mythology. there’s supposed to be a program where the conductors get trained in riddling, but i don’t know. rahm emmanuel keeps saying it’s not a budget priority.”
“huh,” she said. “guess the grass is always greener and all that. but on some level, it’s nice to remember that even with all these big box stores, the country still has some variety left in it.”
“yeah, did you know that in rhode island they call water fountains ‘bubblers’?” i said.
“i read it somewhere. crazy, right?”