I’ve just come back from watching protesters march down Fifth Avenue, a block from my house, rightfully outraged over the brutal death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, this past Monday.
The crowd was mixed, meaning not just people of color. I saw a vet I know walking beside a priest, and a group of well heeled high school kids waving small white flags. A mother with 4 kids carried a sign…
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Police stood vigil.
Unlike the protests in Brooklyn, there was no violence, yet unrest lurked in the air.
Our country right now is like a raw nerve, the virus causing us not to be at our best. Certainly not an excuse, but a gentle explanation.
I walked to The Church of Saint Thomas More that’s still open for private prayer.
I went in and lit three candles.
One for George Floyd, one for our country, and one for Bobby Kennedy who was suddenly very much alive in my mind.
I saw him on the back of that flat truck, speaking to a crowd that had yet to learn of the death of Martin Luther King, earlier in Memphis. Though late, they had waited for him in the rain since, alongside Dr. King, he was their hero.
He was told not to go, it would be too dangerous, but he went anyway, disregarding the notes his speech writer scrawled on a napkin.
Instead, Bobby spoke from his heart.
April 4, 1968
I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort…
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black…
Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
Yes, history repeats itself.
Two months later, he too, would be no more.
God grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
If you ever told me it would be such a wealth of material, I never would have believed it.
A woman is behind me on her 6 foot mark.
Another woman is sitting at the…DO NOT SIT AT THE COUNTER…counter, drinking her…COFFEE ONLY TO GO..coffee, talking loudly…NO CELL PHONE USE…on her phone, through her mask as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
I look at the woman behind me and say, “Even a pandemic can’t stop her.”
We both, since we’re about to lose our minds anyway, start to laugh, holding onto our chests like we had just seen Robin Williams at the Improv.
Finally, pulling myself together say, “Ya know, maybe it’s a good sign, that life doesn’t have to skip a beat.”
“Or miss a call,” the woman behind me says.
We have a farewell giggle, as she moves up, and I slip out the side door.
The fact that I’m resembling Elvis has become a concern, so when I get a surprise call from my hairdresser at midnight, I’m overjoyed.
“What are ya doin?” he asks.
“I’m in bed, awake, after falling asleep after lunch, and you?”
“Up for a color and a cut?”
“Well I’m up. Will ya take a check?”
Which is why I’m at the all night ATM hummin’ a happy tune.
I tell my doorman who’s like Dillinger in a uniform, who I’m expecting.
“Mums the word,” he says, in islandese so it comes out more like, Mooms the word.
15 minutes later.
Chagall shows up as if we’re doing espionage, giving me a strong urge to put on a trench coat.
He snakes in, looks both ways, mask in place like he’s about to raid the safe, lugging in a huge bag filled with what I can only call, female essentials, proceeding to mow my head like the lawn, using an electric razor I so hope doesn’t wake the building,
There’s so much hair on my floor, I’m thinking of crocheting a toup for a friend.
Then he washes that gray right outta my hair in the kitchen sink, and though now in a neck brace, look a whole lot better, despite it being a little short.
Like I’ve enlisted in the Wacs, that sounds rather apt, doesn’t it?
As Chagall is about to leave, Dillinger covertly asks, “Hey, could you give me a trim?”
Mother Nature never fails to lessen my fear of things.
As I wander through Central Park, she speaks to me through her many representatives.
The trees for instance, big and imposing, flirt like green gigolos.
“Hey girlfriend,” says a mighty Oak, “remember when I was naked? But look at me now!”
The Azalea bushes also tease, their pink heads bobbing in the breeze, while the dogwoods giggle like tipsy go-go girls.
And those wacky squirrels having sex right out in the open, proving spring fever is still in the air.
Sex, really? During a crisis?
They stop and look at me…yeah, what a better time, calling me a nut, and who knows more about nuts than they do.
When I think the Governor thought of closing the Park, I shudder.
Mother Nature, having a seat at the table must have said…
You know how much I like you Andrew, being so cute and all. When I think of that scrawny Pataki…oh, and that horny Spitzer, but I’ll get to the point. Don’t you even think about padlocking my door, or Albany will be courtin’ an avalanche. Ya hear me Andrew?
I’m at the market on my corner waiting for the sushi man to make my fresh salmon quinoa roll he makes me for lunch, every day.
The fact that it’s only 7:20 a.m., and he has tons of work to do since, they’ve cut the manpower down from 3 to 1, yet stops just for me, leaves me humbled.
Another man, 70s, well heeled in his Lululemon exercise togs with a perfect crease, is behind me with steam about to gush from his ears…a man, I gather, not used to waiting.
I’m now at the other end of the deli case after asking for spinach pie, Victor has gone all the way downstairs to get for me, rather than just saying, sorry we’re out.
You know why?
Because I’m kind to him, that’s why, kindness reaping its own reward, whether expected or not.
back to entitled man.
My roll is made first, to his visual annoyance, so he says sharply to sushi man, “Can’t you work any faster!!!”
My Norma coming out, tools over and says, “Sir, can I speak to you?”
He looks up as if I should pay an admission price for his attention, but I, undeterred say,”Can you hear me, through your mask?”
He doesn’t answer.
I gaze over at sushi man.
“That fellow is here all alone, with no help. They’ve only been open for 20 minutes, and I myself feel so graced that he’s even here…sir can you hear me, because sir, when you come right down to it, is sushi really essential? I say, appreciation is in order, don’t you sir, when you think about it?”
I slink back to pick up spinach pie, a great name for a rapper by the way, not waiting for entitled man’s response, which may not be good.
As I take my order from Victor who throws in a wrapped roll, I hear in a very imposing voice, “Young man, I just want to thank you. And you have a good day.”
Hey God, if you’re listening, I think it’s time you’ve made me an honorary Apostle.