Published March 21, 2008 by
You never met her or her friends. She made a confession over the phone. They thought you were the dreamy-est thing they’d ever seen. That was exactly how she said it. It was sweet - school-girl sweet, and sincere. They had a photograph - that was all.
What they didn’t know was just how much it meant. How could they?
Like a character in a Springsteen song you’d been down one too many brutal roads and had begun to wonder if there was ever going to be moment where the proverbial light of the next day shone through to illuminate a better time; a better place.
You knew a man who had been out of work for a year. He had a computer file with the places he’d sent his resume.
One thousand and seven, he said, half mystified by the number, half in awe of the reality of it.
You went on interview after interview. They gave you tests. Your favorite was the typing test that asked you to copy as fast as you could a report that said the job market was fraught with uncertainty. It was like the sign on the door to a building that said: please use other door… it made you wonder just what were people thinking, and if they were thinking anything at all.
You were sitting in a bar, with a friend. It was late and a slow evening on a brutally humid day in the middle of a long hot, weary summer. The bartender said he was bored. He pulled out a personalized deck of cards. High card draw wins a free drink, he said. In the background, a television, with the sound turned off, was showing highlights of the day’s baseball games.
Your friend smiled. You said: I never win things like this.
You asked him what happens if you loose.
Nothing, he said, and he smiled.
You looked at the cards splayed out in front of you and you reached for one, stopped, thought better of it, and you chose another.
Your friend went to choose next and, looking at your card, you said: don’t bother, I won.
You were getting dressed to meet someone. You had told them you had a story to share. You put on a clean shirt and felt something in the shirt’s pocket. You smiled as you pulled out two dollars.
You sat together at the table in front of the restaurant. It was late and warm. The sound of cars coming and going in the parking lot just beyond the tables made an echoing hum on the cement.
It became later than it had been and you sat talking about this and that. A man stopped by to ask for money.
I’m trying to get to
Bowie Maryland, he said. You smiled, handed him the two dollars and while he walked away, your friend said you were being foolish. You laughed until you remembered he was the same man who had said the same thing a month before. Well, you said, it’s still funny, the way the luck changes and that’s his karma, not mine.Then there was the phone call. Dreamy, she said. And there was no way she could have known how much that moment of honesty - that gift of honesty - meant.