Monday, October 4, 2010
Public, we all know that the economic affairs of our country are in a state of disarray, but we've gotten to a remarkable point in our nation's history. There have always been those who, through decisions of their own, have ended up in a sorry condition. However, more so now than ever, they are pinning their hopes and dreams, and problems and grievances, on the more well-off. Of course, you all know that I'm talking about the very homeless, the vagrants, and the crack whores that make this wonderful country so unique.
Now people, before I describe to you my experience today on the way home from eating at my favorite, the fabulous New York Japanese restaurant, Masa, allow me to first profess the profound impact that this event had on me. I know, as we all do, that there will always be those whose ideals do not match those that we have. This fact is undeniable and based on the unassailable logic that your mind is not anyone else's. But, checking the imminent philosophical tangent that I was most certainly about to scurry off on, we must learn to live with these differences in ideologies. There are some glaring cases, though, in which the perpetrator of his or her ideology is obviously infringing upon the moral decency of not subjecting others to situations in which they are either forced to accept or reject their ideology. Unwritten rules aside, my tale chronicles one such an instance where I was forced to take a deep breath and take a long, hard look at my own love for a capitalistic society...and make a decision. I will not lie to you America, it was not easy. But as you read this excerpt from my life I'm confident that you will come to appreciate my actions for what they were: right.
Now as I say, I was strolling home from a delightful evening at a delightful restaurant with a delightful woman who ordered a delightful meal from which I stole a delightful bite and subsequently squirmed with delight at the delightful taste sensation prepared by a perfectly delightful little Japanese cook. Just as subsequently as the previous subsequence, my night was quickly fouled by the sight of a man aside the street I was walking on. He leaned against a brick edifice which held the busts of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Venzetti. As I watched, he slumped to the sidewalk, still leaning against the structure, and raised his face towards the heavens mumbling some sort of nonsense that I was not close enough to hear. I thought to myself, "A drunkard, no doubt". Subsequent to the subsequent subsequences, I crossed the street to avoid the unpleasantness of walking past this man.
Again able to focus on the delightfulness that had graced my life that evening, I strolled closer and closer to the man (from the opposite side of the street) when I noticed a flower box on my right. An amateur florist, I stooped to get a closer look. Bands of soft pink seemed to embrace the pale white interior of the Dutch Amaryllis that inhabited the box. I picked up one of the flowers and held it gently to my nose for a long moment, inhaling the beautiful aromas which were to delight my lady friend on our date the next evening. To my dismay, the moment was ruined by a voice full of sorrow and rendered pitiful by its weakness. Though incoherent, I thought it best to turn and see that the man had not been harmed in any way. Tearing my nose away from the flower, I stored it safely in the breast pocket of my sport coat and turned toward the man.
In the darkness I could faintly see the drunkard beckoning for me to come closer. Reluctantly, I crossed the street towards the poor fellow, for what could be more beastly than to leave a man stranded and inebriated on the side of a road?
As I drew closer to the man leaning against the busts, I noticed what the darkness of the night had hidden from my sight just a few feet previously. The man had long matted hair, filthy in both beard and the hair on his head. He wore a tattered smock and cargo pants that were stained with who knows what sort of grime. His hands, as they rose to grasp mine, shook violently at the ends of startlingly skinny arms. Mastering the sudden feeling of revulsion that assailed me, I allowed the man to take my hand. When he looked up at me, I could see that tears were streaming from his sunken eyes down his emaciated face, leaving long, thin trails in the dirt that covered it. His eyes were those of a man whose soul was tortured by the very existence of the universe. In them I could see that what this man was enduring was a self loathing so complete that I should not have been surprised had he, then and there, simply thrown himself in front of the cars that were passing on the street; and I suspect that he would have, had he had the strength to do so.
And people, do you know what he asked me? He asked me if I would, "please", spare some food for him. If I could, "please", loan him a few dollars. He asked me if I might, "please", be able to even give him a few cents. Do you know what he was really asking me America? He was asking me if I would, "please", abandon the ideals of the greatest country on earth. If I would, "please", value his hardships over the very foundations of my being. Do you know what I said America? I said, "No". I said, "It's not my fault you've made the choices you have." I told him that "it's not my responsibility to make sure that the people who don't make wise decisions in their lives are provided for." And public, it's not yours either.
As I walked away he begged for just one more thing. He asked me if I might, "please", at the very least retrieve for him a flower from the box across the way.
I turned my back to him and walked back across the street. As I did so I pulled my Dutch Amaryllis out of my pocket and examined it again. The petals had drooped a little bit and I had even crushed one of them in the process of putting it into my coat. The small, delicate flower had lost its beauty. It seemed to me to have absorbed some of the filth that still clung to the man on the other side of the street whose head remained angled toward the place where my body had been moments before.
I leaned over at the box and gently replaced my tarnished flower in its original position. After retrieving a new one, I held it to my nose, trying to recapture the delightful moment I had been having prior to this event.
Subsequently, I succeeded.