People I meet often ask me how I like living in downtown Reno when they learn I live there.
For some, the question is merely making conversation. But for others, the question incorporates the suggestion there is something insalubrious about downtown: a bit sketchy, too noisy, too dirty. In the fervid imagining of a few folks, downtown Reno might as well be downtown Caracas, more or less.
An unspoken question often follows the spoken query: Wouldn’t you rather be living in, say, a storybook cottage in Old Southwest or a faux-Tuscan thingy south of town where you can wave at the neighbors?
No, I would not.
One, I loathe yardwork and cleaning gutters. And two, if I didn’t live in a high-rise condo in downtown, I couldn’t sit on my terrace and enjoy the sidewalk talk: the exclamations and exhortations and music and chitchat and associated vignettes issuing from passersby.
This is the best eavesdropping (without the stigma), and even prosaic words and scenes take on heightened interest as they emerge in snapshot, untethered from almost all context. As a characteristic specimen, consider this sidewalk talk from a recent Saturday night at the corner of West Second and West streets.
Midnight Beaucoup booty
“It’s too much ass! It’s too much ass!” This declaration (warning?) issuing from a knot of people outside a bar on West Second Street invites the age-old question: When does appealing junk in the trunk just become a junkyard?
12:05 a.m. Name that tune, ociffer
The driver of a car with music bumping doesn’t turn down the volume as a police car pulls alongside. Once across the intersection, the cop slides in behind, lining up the stop.
12:15 a.m. Bark in the dark
A claque of young women shouts “Woof! Woof! Woof!” as they totter on heels down West Second Street.
12:23 a.m. Do the Hussle
Three young women stop in the crosswalk to fist pump and hip thrust to Nipsey Hussle’s “Grindin’ All My Life” billowing from a neon green Chevy.
12:28 a.m. First Amendment fan
“Freedom of speech! F*ck you! Freedom of speech!” is hurled into the night by a man somewhere down West Second Street.
12:31 a.m. Boy, oh Boy
A woman with flowing blonde hair (a wig?) balances an old-school boom box on one shoulder and shimmies to Culture Club: “In the church of the poison mind . . . “
12:42 a.m. White privilege
A gleaming white Tesla idles in the left turn lane from West Street to West Second, blocking traffic. A woman in a fluttering hot pink mini dress exits the bodega at the corner and slides into the Tesla. What did she buy?
12:59 a.m. Fashion police
“I love your outfits,” a woman says to three ladies in jeans and black halter tops as they pass in the crosswalk. (Hmm. Kinda boring, honestly. I prefer the hot pink frock from earlier.)
1:05 a.m. Nightcap? Bed?
Two handsome (you can just tell) young fellas cop a smoke, then hold hands as they walk down West Street. One asks: “Do you want to go somewhere else or go home?” I’ll never know. They turn the corner, their sidewalk talk unheard.
Johnathan L. Wright is the food and drink writer for Reno News & Review. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsJLW or on Facebook personally or at @FoodNevada. Sign up here for the Reno News & Review free weekly newsletter highlighting our most recent stories.