Sunday, January 25, 2009

The well-dressed man

We were at the Starbucks Cafe at the Jenkintown PA Barnes & Noble. Robin was telling Pat and me about her job as a special ed teacher. I was sipping on a hot apple cider & had just written down Robin's contact info on a napkin. The contact of the pen & the napkin was superb. I took a small silent pleasure in this while she was talking about special ed.

Special ed? said a very well-dressed gentleman who was passing by. He wore one of those expensive woolen coats and had on a shirt & tie underneath. He looked like a man with substance. I stared hard at him trying to figure out if he was important or not. Yes, I'm like that.

Special ed, he said, quite a subject, moving over to our table.

Mind if I sit down? he asked.

We couldn't figger out what to do. In America, particularly in suburban Philly, it is unheard of for total strangers to approach you. My table all looked at me for an answer, as if I was Tuvia in the movie Defiance. (Go see it!!!)

All right, I said, sit down.

He passed by me & then I saw it.

Wait a minute! I shouted. You have a bottle of vodka in your pocket. I don't think you should sit with us.

The cafe was so crowded people were sharing tables. They were also looking at us.

The one thing in life I hate most of all is Wasting time talking to idiots. I now believed the well-dressed man was a bona fide idiot.

So he starts getting defensive.

How old are you? he asks me.

That's totally inappropriate, I said. You don't go up to someone you don't know and ask them how old they are. I want you to leave.

I'm running for president, he says.

Are you manic? I asked.

What's that? he asked.

Never mind. What's your name?

Bill, he said. What's yours?

Having learned the most important thing about him - his name - I was now ready to take action. Nearly an entire minute had passed and we were on the clock. The clock of courage and efficiency.

Bill, I'd like you to leave right now, I said.

I totally avoided eye contact. This man could turn out to be a beast. Never look a suspicious person in the eye. They can bop you with their vodka bottle.

At that moment, one of the Barnes & Noble associates came over with his swinging nametag. He was very nice.

I'm sorry to have this gentleman bother you, he said. Sir, can you come with me?

We finished up our snacks while reviewing the experience.