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if you were some tall guy

‘As we were heading down Mass Ave toward campus, a man stepped out of a doorway. “I’m selling books,” he said. Instinctively I averted my eyes, picked up my pace, and changed course slightly to give him a wider berth—just as Ivan did the opposite, slowing down right in front of the man, looking right at him, right into his eyes. “Books, really?”

I was overcome by the sudden sense of Ivan’s freedom. I realized for the first time that if you were a guy, if you were some tall guy who looked like Ivan, you could pretty much stop to look at anything you wanted, whenever you felt like it. And because I was walking with him now, just for this moment, I had special dispensation, I could look at whatever he was looking at, too.’

~ Elif Batuman, The Idiot

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