Friday, April 16, 2010

I wish I'd said

Yesterday, I was sitting on the bench in front of the grocery store reading a book of poetry, while waiting for the pianist. She was shopping and I don't relish tagging along while decisions are being made for which I have little expertise. As I sat in the sun, a young fellow came to the bench and began to stuff the groceries he bought into his backpack. He noted my book and asked, "Do you have any wisdom for me ?" I am always taken aback at questions out of the blue like this, but I probably shouldn't be. An old fellow sitting on a bench in the sun probably looks harmless and a good subject for a gentle kidding. I said something in reply that was completely banal and that was the end of it. We both smiled. I have since thought of what I could have said since every encounter we have, may or may not be ordained. If you believe there is even a chance of this, you might take it seriously. I could have joined the repartee in kind and said something like " A wet bird never flies at night!" ( Dick Shawn), or, "Don't shoot an albatross on the way to the tropics or the wind will die and so will all your crew!" Stuff like that is chatter however, and has no lasting power. Maybe I'm too serious but the best alternative is to answer a question with a question. You may say it's silly to answer a question with a question, but I say, "What's wrong with a question?" Something simple! "Welcome to Lotus Island. How are you enjoying it? Are you going to grace us with a stay for a few days?" A churlish question I could have made in reply would be," What do you think I am, a fortune cookie?" It's easy for me to be a smart aleck, but even if someone seems a bit patronizing, gentleness and interest will lead you down the right path. Competition sucks! I probably looked like one of the two old boys in the television advertisement for the trust company!

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