Caught Looking | Mark Lindsay

It's a brisk day in Northern California. I pull my coat collar tight up to my neck. This stops the downward draft that goes all the way to my waist. The overall visual effect makes me look like one of those little spies in Spy vs. Spy (Mad Magazine, circa 1968). On this day, I feel like the black spy waiting for the white spy's engagement. I prowl the sidewalks on the balls of my feet—the way cats do.

I look at a shop window and into my reflection. I'm missing my fedora, a dandy Borsalino that I found in Verona on a distant day when I was then, too, cold and brooding. Today I wear a baseball cap, a feeble substitute. I wonder why I don't wear the fedora more often, but, elegant hats in America just don't seem right. My reflection looks less like a spy and more like a typical Marin County male just past his prime.

I shake myself of my self-absorption long enough to notice a woman. She's also looking at my reflection.Given that I'm wearing sunglasses I don't think she knows that I'm looking back at her. It is an eery encounter. I lift my camera gently, focus...and squeeze the shutter release. She's still staring so I make five more images.

I walk off. And I wonder about her and her life's story, figuring we'll never cross paths again. Then I return to my spy fantasy and look for another window and another reflection. By now my collar has fallen so I pull it up again. The draft is yet again uncomfortable.