The answer is usually no, but feel the mere acknowledgement of someone’s pain makes it less so. A hunch hatched from experience.
I remember falling headfirst on Fifth Avenue so shook I sat on the pavement and sobbed. An Asian man with the body of a sumo wrestler, stopped, lifted me up beneath the arms without saying a word before continuing on his way. I felt instantly better having been noticed. Hey this is New York where people hurry passed crime scenes.
But this isn’t about me…it’s about a young teenage girl sitting on a bench wailing.
If she weren’t so emotional it could have been a J Crew ad. Picture Bambi in slim jeans and a fitted blazer. The sweetest part was how she was crying into her strawberry blonde braid.
I observed a bit before strolling over. “Are you okay?” I said like a big sister.
“Yeah, yeah…I’m just fine…really…I am…WHAHHHH.” To hear any creature cry so hard affects me deeply. It had to be about a boy. What else could make you shred your braid that way?
It made me think of J. G. Tripp Junior, a 39 year-old married man with 6 children I had a crush on at 18. When he told me we couldn’t consummate our attraction I was suicidal lamenting how I’d never love again. A friend of his took me aside and said, “There will come a day when you won’t even remember his name.”
And I didn’t, until this moment.
When I sat next to this sweet thing losing her mind, I asked if she wanted to talk about it. “NOOO,” she said, before putting her head on my lap sobbing into my freshly pressed khakis.
I told her my J. G. Tripp story…how crazy I was for him and thought I’d never get over it.
She picked up her head and said, “That’s so sad…I don’t really have anybody I like right now.”
“But aren’t you crying over a boy?”
“NOOO,” I want to go away with my girlfriends and my parents won’t let me.”
“Where do you want to go?”
“Paris…for the weekend. Is that so unreasonable?”
Okay Susannah…remember where you are…the Upper East Side of Manhattan where girls get breast implants for graduation and frequent flyer miles straight from the crib.
“How old are you if I may ask?”
She sat straight up like a pelican. “16.”
“Wow, you’re that old. Time is sure tooling by.”
“Are you making fun of me?”
“No…16 is…well, it’s half of 32.” Jesus…she was nothing more than a well-dressed embryo as far as I was concerned.
“How old are you?”
“Never mind…but here’s the thing….Paris is a lot older than the two of us put together…it will wait for you, so please blow your pretty nose and how bout I buy you a nice cup of tea.”
“I only drink 2% lattes.”
“Okay, so we’ll get you one of those.” (an aspirin and an iron for me)