Lunch With Jesus

The other day I had to go see a doctor way up near Columbia University and I was not too happy. As a matter of fact you could have cut my bitterness with a butcher knife. It was the first beautiful spring day we had so instead of basking in the 24 carat sunshine, as Truman Capote once put it, there I was schlepping to 168th Street to see some specialist who was more than likely not going to help me.

As I was waiting on the subway platform, I noticed a black man standing next to a pillar counting his change. I remember thinking, we could be twins him and me…well, if I was African American with an Afro that had a comb through it that is. But he was thin, like I am and we were dressed exactly alike in jeans, a T-shirt, a light jacket and well worn white Chuck Taylors. I watched his face as he collected what looked like all dimes, not looking all too happy at the accumulated outcome.

The train came, both of us getting off at the same stop. I was ridiculously early from fear of getting lost so I decided to make use of the extra time. I, without much thought, ambled over to my twin.

“Hey,” I said, “just wondering…have you eaten today?”

He looked at me suspiciously. “Who wants to know?” he said.

“I do…I’m curious.”

He turned his head from right to left while nervously shoving his hands into his pockets. “I had a little sumpin,” he said. “why you so interested?”

Let me just say, since my humbling hearing issues, my heart, when I least expect it, springs open like a saloon door. I knew this man needed a meal plain and simply, so I decided to provide it.

I loved what he looked like. He had a beautiful face, like a minstrel straight out of Gone With The Wind, and if that’s politically incorrect, so be it. You could just see him on a hot, Georgia summer night circa 1861 idly strumming a banjo.

“I’m going to get some lunch,” I said to him, trying to sound off-the-cuff casual,” and frankly I hate to eat alone. You want to come?”

Now he’s looking at me wondering if this is a set up or not. Am I the cops, am I just nuts? What’s my deal that I’m inviting him out to eat. Totally understandable on his part, a tad insane on mine. But then again, it’s really how you look at it.

I spot a coffee shop on the corner of 165th and Fort Washington and begin walking toward it. “Come on,” I say to him. I see out of the corner of my eye he slowly follows though cautiously, like he’s waiting for his parole officer to pull up.

We enter… sliding into a booth.

“Have what you want,” I said, “and just so there’s no confusion of why I asked you to join me, just pretend you’re eating with Jesus.” I know that sounds crazy…but it was important for me, and him, that nothing was misconstrued. This was a kind act on my part more for me than him. I have found that in the midst of a serious personal crisis, the more you do for others, the less hopeless you feel concerning yourself.

Greatest lesson, by the way, I have ever learned. I did have a motive, but with perks on either end.

“So, what’s Jesus havin?” he said, when the waitress brought over menus.

“Salad, Jesus always has a salad.”

He scanned the menu keeping an eye on me the whole time before saying, “How much can I spend?”

“Is filet mignon on the menu?”

“Ain’t that steak?” He quickly perused the laminated pages. “I don’t see it.”

“Good. Then have whatever you want.”

It was going on Visa, but I could see he needed a boundary to lean on and as it turns out, so did I. When I find myself in one of these self-propelled philanthropic situations, I need to rein myself in. This guy and his impoverished state was slowly but surely breaking my heart. I wanted to take him to the Gap for new jeans when I saw the gaping hole winking at me brandishing his left hipbone. When someone like him is in need, my borders burst open.

He ordered bacon and eggs with a double side of toast. “I like toast,’ he said, when he asked if he could have an extra order.

“Me too, but I need to watch my weight.”

“Are you kiddin me? You look like a toothpick,” he said. “I never knew Jesus was so skinny.”

“Don’t forget, he walks a lot.”

When we were done he passed on dessert I guess because of the grilled cheese chaser he had as a second course. He ate like he was going to the chair with such enthusiasm that all I could think of was, my mother would have loved him. She could have fed him forever.

Having to get going, I asked for the check.

“I’m just wonderin,” he said, “what made you buy me lunch?”

“I told you, I don’t like eating alone, besides, I now need a favor from you.”

“I knew it,” he said, slamming his hand on the tabletop. “Never a clean break. I no nothin…shit…now you expect me to roll over on someboda. I knew you was a cop.”

Is that the most ridiculous thing you have ever heard? Suddenly over eggs I’m Kalinda on The Good Wife.

“I’m not a cop. I have a doctor’s appointment at 161 Fort Washington Avenue. Don’t know my way around here. Could you walk me there please?”

He gave me that confused look again. “I know where that is.”

“Great, so you’ll take me.”

“Yeah, no problem.”

I paid the check and we headed out.

“What are you looking at?” I said, seeing that he was still staring at me.

“Nothin…just never knew Jesus was such a good tipper.”

He took me right to the door of the Hirshfield Pavilion where we said our good byes. As though he was still not convinced he wasn’t going to get arrested, he walked backwards till he got to the corner.

I waved.

He reluctantly waved back.

That’s then I realized I never caught his name.

I can’t speak for him, but I felt like a million bucks.

Kindness…it pays triple what it gives out, like hitting the Trifecta at Hialeah.

SB

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About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
This entry was posted in humor, Love, New York City, Uncategorized, Women and men and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Lunch With Jesus

  1. Jed says:

    I always suspected Jesus was female, the more evolved gender.

    Like

  2. That’s what it’s all about “J” and that’s how it’s done. I immediately imagined an older Jimi Hendrix when you said he looked like you.

    Like

  3. Joe Owens says:

    Sussannah – First of all I am embarrassed to say I did not realize you were having these issues. I will pray for you as you seek an answer and healing. Secondly, i want you to know how much I enjoyed this post. I love doing this when i can and commend you for taking yourself out of a comfort zone to do it. I know the streets of your city are much different than mine as are the motivations and being kind can sometimes be craziness in action. By showing Jesus to this man you will likely plant a seed in this man’s mind that eh won’t soon forget. Carry on and stay strong!

    Like

    • I always think of Jesus as very democratic in situations such as these. I knew he’d immediately understand what was happening. I’m very protective of myself…didn’t want any misunderstandings but I’m also openhearted which trumps any fear. He just looked like he needed a little kindness thrown his way…all those dimes…should have called the post…’March of Dimes’….

      Like

      • Joe Owens says:

        I think the title of each post can make all the difference in the feel of the experience. Yesterday I posted one title “While A Tree Grows in Brooklyn A Boy Graduates In Virginia”. It was about my oldest child’s graduation from high school. It really did not have anything to do with the classic book, but just felt right as a title.

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      • I love that title and congratulations to you and your son. And how I love Jefferson country. Virginia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.

        Like

  4. Joe Owens says:

    Reblogged this on Joe's Musings and commented:
    The second blog I read this morning that I think needs to get more looks.

    Like

  5. katecrimmins says:

    Girlfriend, you got big brass ones! Booyah!

    Like

  6. Susannah, I’m so glad Joe directed me to your blog. This is a beautiful story. I’m a shy guy so kindness like this can be scary, but as you said, it always pays out triple. Good inspiration for me to step up to the plate more.

    Like

    • I’m sure you’re kind…do you smile at people…hold doors open for them? Bet you do. Kindness comes in all kinds of packaging David 🙂

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      • Well, yes, I’m quite kind, but not naturally outgoing, so I admire people who do as you did in this story. I guess we all do what we can, and strive to do more. 🙂

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      • I’m glad to hear you admit that you’re kind. Marianne Williamson always says, we teach by demonstration. I’ve always liked that.

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      • Anna Symons says:

        David is definitely kind, Susannah, and teaches by demonstration, like you said. He’s my older brother, and one of the kindest people I know. Kinder than me. 🙂 Love your story, by the way. It was inspiring, and made me happy.

        Like

      • Thanks Anna. I’m glad he’s kind and that you know that about him. He sounds modest is all which one can’t help but to admire. Nice meeting you.

        Like

  7. D. D. Syrdal says:

    It’s wonderful when the impulse to help someone overrides our programmed fears. Brilliant to ask for directions as the price of the meal. I love the line “my heart… springs open like a saloon door.”

    Like

    • Oh Dame. I feel so sad for people who clearly are struggling to have their basic needs met. I struggle with all of mine met…I can’t imagine what it’s like for them.

      Like

    • D. D. Syrdal says:

      The ones that always tear me up are the kids you see on the streets, clearly runaways. I just want to round them all up and take them home. Some have families wondering what happened to them, but some don’t.

      Like

      • They remind me of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan. I saw one yesterday on my way to work. He had clearly slept in the subway…ripped jeans, blood shot eyes…blonde…cute. It does pull at one’s heart strings alright.

        Like

  8. rheath40 says:

    I haven’t read your posts in forever it seems. This one was so good. I’ve missed you Susannah.

    Like

  9. backonmyown says:

    You have explained to the rest of us the key to being what all humans would be in a better, more evolved world. I’m awestruck by your insight and by the skill with which you detailed it. You are the epitome of a kind-hearted woman. Brava!

    Like

    • My grandmother used to say brava…never bravo…never knew why. Well you flatter me. I’m not always sweet as that post revealed, but I do tend to bend a bit more for those less fortunate than me. I can’t seem to help it.

      Like

  10. skinnyuz2b says:

    You are so right, Susannah. Kind deeds often benefit the giver more than the receiver.

    Like

  11. Patricia says:

    Well done! Not many are as brave as you.

    Like

  12. I, too, found you through Joe and I’m glad I did. This is exactly the sort of thing I would like to do and try to do when I can (not a meal, necessarily, but the idea of meeting someone’s needs in a possibly unexpected way.) Thanks for the reminder and the idea. Blessings to you.

    janet

    Like

  13. manty67 says:

    What a lovely thing to do x

    Like

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