Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Ask meets Won't Tell

You can see the man coming from half a block away. He's tall, thin, and has an unbalanced walk. He lives nearby, in a home for the developmentally disabled.

When he gets closer you see his crooked beige-rimmed glasses, which are too narrow for his face and make him look as if he's peering at a bug. But no, he's looking at you. He's always looking at you, because he wants to ask you a question.

He raises his hand up next to his ear, palm forward, and says "Hi!"

You say Hi back. Then he says "What's your name?" You say your first name. He doesn't say his. Then he says "How old are you?"

At this point I say "What?," pretend I'm in a hurry, and take off down the sidewalk. This always makes me feel bad, but what am I going to tell him? The truth?

So one day I smiled and said, "You know, you don't ask a lady her age because she might not want to tell you."

He looked confused. "What?"

I repeated it.

He thought this over and said, "You're oversensitive!"

The man's got a vocabulary, and he's not afraid to use it. The question is: What'll he ask next time?

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