Someone said “Bless you” and I didn’t even sneeze

No doubt my best stuff comes out when I don’t have either the time or the inclination to think first. Like when I asked Bobbie to move in with me or two years later when I asked her to marry me. Today it happened twice.

First was on West 17th Street as it filled with students exiting Winston Prep, a school you wouldn’t know was a school until you saw a hundred or so kids pouring out the door all at one time. I waited till most of them had left the block then started walking east from the Rubin Museum of (Himalayan) Art toward what proved to be a dramatically overpriced second hand shop run by Housing Works. At just about in front of the school now, I see two schoolgirls photographing a schoolboy. They are lively and encouraging. His face wears that cross between scowl and indifference that represents manhood to those not yet having achieved it. Suddenly I hear myself talking–to them!

“Hey! What’s going on here?” All three–recent arrivals from Ivory Coast as it turns out–look at me more with shock than anything else. I keep talking, astounded not only that I’ve jumped uninvited into their world but also at what was coming–also uninvited–out of my mouth.

“He doesn’t look like that,” I continue. At that the boy’s face relaxes. An easy naturalness replaces his pose.

“See?” It’s not like I’m pointing my finger at him, but that’s probably in my voice. “He looks like THAT,” I say, half laughing. I pull out my phone/camera. ‘”May I?” Everyone is giggling now, nodding. I snap this.

All approve. On the spot I email it to the girl with the phone. They walk west. I continue east.

  *   *   *

The second time actually came later that same the day. What happened in between isn’t really relevant here. This time I was in the subway on the #1 train going north from West 18th Street. The train had begun to fill with rush hour folks, hardly a seat to be found. I spotted a bit of bench between two work-boots guys, each half asleep, in that relaxed position certain people (I’ll not label them, but you know who I mean) call man-spreading. I walk up to them still grinning the great grin brought on by the street-snap event from maybe an hour earlier.

“Hey, guys!” I point to the spot. “Mind if I join?” Both smile and bring knees together. I say thanks and sit. They smile and return to semi-sleep. Three stops along the train stops at Penn Station. A bunch of folks gets off and a seat opens across the isle. I take it. The two guys open their eyes long enough to smile again then return to their original positions.

*   *   *

This is my city. This is my life. Yes there are some exceptional occurrences, but this day-to-day stuff, this is the reality.   I can only be grateful.

Published in: on December 4, 2017 at 9:40 pm  Comments (11)