I was underdressed for Lisbon. The men wore suits. Corduroy is the fabric of choice. Portuguese corduroy comes in shades of brown. There is tan, beige, sesame, and burnt umber. The suits look toasted. Or caramelized. They seem almost perishable.
In a tonal city of edible colors, I was not blending in. I caught anxious glimpses of myself in store-window reflections. My primary-colored T-shirts might as well have been inmate-orange jumpsuits. I was Waldo.
It was mid-December, off and on rain. Streets flowed down toward the bay and the shop-heavy Baixa district, where the corduroy was sold. The rain would start and I would pull a crumpled blue slicker from my messenger bag and try to pull it over my head as I walked. Well-dressed Lisboans in fedoras and carrying umbrellas looked on in either bemusement or disapproval; it was hard to tell which.
I needed to find myself one of those corduroy suits. It would be something to take home. It would not decompose on some forgotten shelf or stand anonymously on a crowded mantle. No, I would wear my souvenir. I would become it.
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