"How big is it?" I asked my colleague
about his red scooter as we walked down the path
to the Xerox PARC parking lot.
He looked at me sharply, as if I'd asked him something obscene
(I suppose my question could've been taken that way) or, at best,
nonsensical. He pointed at his scooter. "It's right there.
See for yourself."
I'd been taught — never explicitly, but somehow absorbed —
that you ask men about their machines. Men always volunteer
specs about their motors. They show you how they can
make the car walk by bouncing it on its air shocks.
They explain (with infinite patience) how dual carbs are synched.
"No. I mean: how many cc's?"
"Oh. One, I suppose."
The answer floored me. The only thing I could think of
that measured one cc, just off the top of my head,
was one of those BD micro-fine insulin syringes.
I would've asked him if the scooter was fun to ride,
but I'd become distracted and shy from all this small talk.
forward anywhere lines