Friday, October 28, 2011

On Courage.

I sat on the wrought iron bench at the corner of Westport Road and Broadway, and I opened my book to read. I hadn’t made it through the first paragraph of the new chapter before I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a man approaching me. I glanced up and gave him the closed-mouthed smile reserved only for strangers whose eye contact you can’t avoid.

He was of Middle Eastern descent, I would guess, and squat, with his black hair combed straight back. He was dressed all in black, not in the goth way, but in the trying-and-failing-to-be-mysterious kind of way. He sported transition lenses, but the cloudy sky couldn’t convince them to transition one way or the other. And it’s worth mentioning that he was at least 30 years old.

He stopped in front of me. “Do you like poetry?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said, hoping the open book on my lap communicated that he was currently interrupting my literary pursuit.
“Would you like to hear a poem?”
He began reciting in the style of slam poetry; it ended with “Touch. This. Word. [pause] Freedom.” He was now sitting on the bench next to mine, and he reclined, taking a sip from his coffee and looking pleased with himself.
“Did you write that?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “What’d you think? Am I right to be cocky about that one?”
It wasn’t a good poem, and I don’t particularly care for slam poetry, but I didn’t say so.
“I’m Josh,” he said, proffering his hand.
I shook it. “Melody.”
“Melody,” he repeated. “That’s a pretty name.”
“I didn’t pick it out,” I told him.
He asked what I did, and I told him and returned the question. “I’m a web developer,” he told me. “I’m also a DJ. But I haven’t DJ’d in, like, two months, so I think I’m really trying to fill that creative void.” I nodded sympathetically and he began rooting around in the inside pocket of his coat. “Here,” he said, handing me a CD labeled AMAZE in Sharpie. “This is my demo. You can have it.” I thanked him, slipped it in my bag, and started to wonder where the cameras were hidden.
“So do you have big Halloween plans?” he asked.
“No. It’s been a long couple of weeks,” I said. “I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend.”
There was a pause, and I could see the wheels behind his indecisive transition lenses start turning.
“I’m going to a poetry reading on Sunday,” he said.
“Do you like poetry readings?”
“I’ve never been to one,” I replied. Where was all this inconvenient honesty coming from?
Another contemplative pause. Then he gestured with his coffee cup and asked, “Would you be willing to take a chance on a random stranger?”
“I have a boyfriend,” I said, in a tone I hoped was confident and unapologetic. I mentally noted that this was the first time in my life I could use that sentence to say “no” and I wouldn’t be lying.
“You have a boyfriend?” he said, and I nodded. “Of course you do,” he said, sighing dejectedly. “That’s probably why I sat down to talk to you in the first place.”
“Thanks for the poem, though,” I said. He smiled sadly and bid me good day.

Oh, no, I haven’t listened to the CD yet.

[edit: I've listened to all of 1:12 of the 59:23 of the CD. Even that was a stretch.]


  1. You and your awkward situations. These things only happen to you. But I enjoyed every minute of that wrong of me?

  2. Would you like to come to a poetry reading with me?