One of the many advantages of arriving in that post-65 age bracket is that you can pretty much give yourself license to do what you want to do. Some will chalk it up to wise old eccentricity; some with think you’ve lost a few screws. Either way, you can wear your pants on backwards or opine about whichever issues cross the horizon of your thinking. And, if you have a blog, you can do so publicly.
I think I will.
First, I want to talk about acknowledgment. We are all too well informed about the impact of money and the prestige and access that comes with material gain and acquisition. But do we understand—as community, society, people—the monumental power of acknowledgment?To look out from our increasingly narcissistic selves and see another. That’s big. But then to communicate to that person what you see: their gifts, their strengths, the good they’ve done, the way they have affected you—that’s bigger.
When you stop and bring yourself into that moment of acknowledging someone else, you create a bridge, not of your need or desire, but of true connection. He or she has done or been something that uplifted others: it might be in their work, their personal style, their demeanor, or through actions which were either matter of fact or very difficult for them. The point is that you are aware of them. Now you feed that back to the individual. He or she discovers that they were seen…and seen as being good. Isn’t that what we all want?
A word about the acknowledger. When you discover how nourishing the acknowledgment you’ve given truly is, you will be richer still—in the ways that matter. In the ways that last longer than dollars or things. In the ways of the heart.
AN IMAGINARY INCIDENT
So far, all the posts to this blog have been about actual events…my take on them, which can be a bit modifying, shall we say, but grounded in reality. I would like to depart. There’s a story I want to tell which hasn’t happened—not in what we commonly agree upon as reality. But it could, and it might. Because it’s based on the truth about the people in the tale. The representation of their nature, their character, is as real as anything could be. The encounter, however, is fictional.
I’m going to call it HIGH NOON ON THE WILD WEST SIDE.
It was a sunny late morning in August. The day promised to be a hot one, but it hadn’t gotten there yet. I had my usual errands to run, which I anticipated with pleasure. I always enjoy the walkabout in my neighborhood. As I left my apartment, which is on the main floor, I heard what could only be construed as the sounds of burgeoning conflict. The words being loudly uttered were somewhat muffled at first. But, as I proceeded through the lobby to the building’s entry, I could make out what was being yelled:
“It’s mine! Don’t you dare try to take it from me! You’re a thief, a gonif! I won’t let you get away with this.”
“You’re a psycho! You don’t own the space. You can’t reserve it. It’s mine now! And you better not threaten me. Or…
“Or, what, you bastard, or what?
“Or I’ll sue you; I’ll make your life a living hell. I’ll ruin you. I can do it and I will.”
Let me illuminate. You probably can’t guess what’s actually going on. Two men are fighting over a parking space outside the building. There’s alternate side parking and the protocol on the Upper West Side is that cars double park on one side of the block during the period of street cleaning; then they move to the now-cleaned side and sit in their cars, waiting—sometimes for a half-hour— until the no-parking time has elapsed.
Mr. R, late forties, paunchy, baggy, barely groomed, but somehow still generating an aura of virility (which has more to do with his unblemished sense of his own superior self-worth – and net worth), was in stage two of the parking process. He was sitting in his late model Lexus, on his iPhone, doing something engrossing, waiting for the clock to run out. He had maybe ten minutes to go before the one-o-clock hour.
Mr. E, apoplectic, arms flailing, an over-fifty, self-deluded master of the universe, was used to getting his way. Whether his way is just or even reasonable, he has the connections and slightly sociopathic will to roll over anyone in his path. On the surface, he’s a soft-spoken guy, a barely audible lisp adding to the overall false persona. He’s a true killer. E was out of his 1973 Mustang, gently battered and intended to add a few inches to his penis. The car was now blocking the middle of the road, doors open, motor running.
“Didn’t you see my signs? I left two signs. One on my car.” (He thought but didn’t say outloud, “Butch.”) “And the big one in red letters on the curb – TAKEN. DON’T PARK HERE.”
“If you weren’t such a crazy asshole, I’d be laughing now. But I see that you believe you’re entitled. Go fuck yourself. Seriously. That’s my suggestion.”
A crowd had gathered on both sides of the street. There were about fifteen people who witnessed the next stage of this showdown. Mr. E, having failed to persuade, moved his soft, unmuscled body faster than most could see. He grabbed the driver’s door of the Lexus and, with two unexpected moves, opened it and pulled Mr. R. halfway out. The latter’s legs were still under the steering wheel, but his upper torso was on a trajectory for the gutter. On his way down, he clutched at E’s lower body, throwing him off balance. They both went down to the ground. Screaming. At a pitch I’d only heard from teenage girls. The occasional words which were audible: “Motherfucker, cocksucker, beat you to death, destroy you.”
In the crowd were several people who knew them both. No one liked either one very much, but E had a coterie of sworn enemies. And so, enemy of my enemy being my friend, three men walked quickly (they didn’t run) to break up the fight. The two combatants were sweaty and snotty. Their clothes were in disarray. R had punched E in the crotch which had ultimately given him the advantage. The peacemakers pulled E to a standing position and frog-marched him to the front of the building. Someone took his keys and moved his car out of the center of the street. He was sobbing. When he caught his breath, he hurled his final assault at R, who had locked his car and was limping toward home.
“You won’t see me coming, but I’ll get you. If it’s the last thing I do.”
A spontaneous chorus of, “Shut the fuck up!” drowned him out. I heard my voice in the mix.