Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How are you going to cut the shine with me, Lady?

“Cut the shine” is a phrase that, Susan assumes, was probably used more frequently on the streets of London during Charles Dickens’ time. Susan had never heard the phrase used on the streets of places where she had visited or lived: New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago. The phrase is used in the context of expressing a desire to divide money, share wealth, or make sure that stolen booty is equally distributed among honest thieves. That’s why, when Susan was getting into her yellow 2005 Mini Cooper S, she nearly jumped out of her go-go boots when the neighborhood tramp leaned into the open, passenger-side window, smiled and said, “Are you going to cut some shine with me, Lady.” It was the man with the limp who always wore a free WXRT giveaway t-shirt. The neighbors all called him Junksmith because he liked to collect stuff off the ground and save it or reuse it. He had picked up the cigarette butt Susan had mashed underfoot outside of My Place For Tea on Sheffield Ave. With the butt cupped in his oily hand, Junksmith had followed Susan to her car. “You dropped this, Lady.” He extended his arm in front of her, returning her half-smoked butt. “I’ve come to give it back to you. Shows I’m honest, see. Now, how are you gonna cut the shine with me?” Susan asked him, “Where did you hear that phrase, ‘cut the shine?’” Junksmith knew this lady was thinking, ‘now who says that in this day and age?’ Junksmith winked and said, “I read this month’s One Book One Chicago reading selection: Oliver Twist.” He nodded. “They say it in there.” Susan is also a member of that book club, so she invited Junksmith into her car to take a drive along Lake Shore while they each took leisurely drags from the half-smoked cigarette and exhaled out the open windows. Ah, city summertime! Finally, just to talk, Susan said “I hope they don’t bust you for plagiarism.” Junksmith shrugged, “Aw, they won’t. But I tell ‘ya, if those MCs start using that phrase in their rap lyrics, if they start makin’ a killin’ off that phrase ‘cut the shine,’ I’d better see my share of profit or else it won’t be records they be spinnin’; it be heads! That’s right, anyone steals my words, heads is gonna spin!” Ah, city braggadocio!

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