Much in the news these days, this is a teargas canister.

The paint job is mine — ‘candy flake cranberry’ — poorly applied on a whim some time after receiving it as a gift.  Just now it is displayed on a lovely Chinese Chippendale napkin table (which I’m taking with me when I leave Stephen) as part of a rotating retinue of other curio.

I mention the table only as a matter of pride — ‘pride’ in the sense of the Southern expression scornfully delivered when observing a display of ostentation: ‘Well, aren’t they proud!’.

At the end of my two years at the NSA in Washington DC, which coincided with the second half of my Air Force enlistment in 1969 and 1970, I was given a sendoff luncheon that might have appeared to the odd observer more appropriate for someone’s retirement.  To say I was very touched sounds like I don’t mean it.

At that luncheon, I received as a gag gift this teargas canister, an artifact of the 1968 SDS riots in Dupont Circle in Washington.  

The giver was a young woman with whom I had shared a group office at NSA.  This was a person of such core elegance and soignée that it was incumbent upon me to address her with a faux formality, which she returned (Miss ‘E’… Mr. ‘H’…) with mutual enjoyment.

The striking Miss ‘E’ was actually my contemporary, and my boss told me more than once, ‘You should ask her out!’.  Enough on that.

Miss ‘E’ explained that she had picked up the teargas canister on the street nearby her apartment, post-riot, thereby inadvertently adding to her ‘resume’: a Dupont Circle address.

I wonder what became of her.  In some bizarre way, I miss her, but if I’m not careful, I’ll start sounding like Holden Caulfield:

‘Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.’