Wednesday, June 08, 2005

just because i wanted to tell...

I have a little story to share and I'm sure it has a point (probably not very unique), but telling the point isn't my point -- I just want to tell about it because it made me happy. Yesterday I was out for a bike ride and I was going up and down the streets around Duncan Park, sort of daydreaming. And I went by this little house on that street that comes out by the church there (Greater Soul Deliverance?) and there was this old African American man sitting on the porch by himself reading. He was probably in his late '60s. And there was the chain link fence, and trash lying about and me on my green bike and he in his metal folding chair and the hot sun glaring down and it was really quiet and no one else was around. And I was just whizzing by him -- or actually, sort of meandering, if you can meander on a bike -- and just as I passed him I caught a glimpse of what he was reading: The Chosen, by Chaim Potok. It was an old scrubby paperback version, like the type book you would get at thrift store maybe, which is exactly where I got my copy. So I hesitated a moment and then wheeled around and came back to him and pulled my bike up to his fence. He was pretty engrossed so I hesitantly sort of called out (twice actually): "Hey. ... Hey! [embarrassed smile] Hi. Are you reading The Chosen?" He looked up, blinked at me, confused, and nodded. I said, "By Potok?" (It occurred to me there might be many books with that title.) He nodded silently again.

Then I grinned pretty big because I really loved that book too. And I told him how much I liked it, he sat up and smiled, and we both chatted about how good it is. He said, "Yeah, I'm almost done here. In the last chapter now." And then I told him there's a sequel and we talked a bit about that as well. I felt good and he was sort of smiling too, maybe both of us aware of how incongruous the moment was. But then I didn't have anything else to say so I sort of ventured, "Umm, well, okay... goodbye!" And he waved and I rode off.

But it just gave me a little burst of happiness. He and I probably couldn't have been more different; yet there we were sharing our mutual enjoyment of a novel about two Hasidic Jewish teenage boys growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940s.

Well, that's all.


Bryan said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing.

ryan k said...

I heard you only like that book because it is set in Brooklyn!