As the B-52s punch their words into my inner ear, “down, down, down…skedubidub…hrrrrr…ahhh..ahhhahhh…Rock Lobstah!” I recall a few minutes ago when a 20-something guy with a crew cut, backpack, and wild look in his eyes walks into the Starbucks on 76th and Columbus where I’m doing my evening news catch-up, drinking the requisite decaf, checking out the Red Sox losing to the Cleveland Indians in the bottom of the second inning live on espn.com, and he taps my shoulder because, after all, I have these antisocial white iPod earplugs in the side of my head that announce, “Please know that I am occupied with a little Alternative Music R&R,” and he stumbles for words, and I think, Uh, Oh, here we go: This reminds me of London 1985 when I sat in that hotel lobby with brother Jim and college friend Kim and some dude walks in and convinces me that he lost his trumpet – for real, I tell you, and you thought I wasn’t gullible… – and needs twenty quid (which then was about only $30) which of course I gave him because he promised to send it back to me later to my US home and he even gave me his name and address, which I am sure now corresponded with some ex-foreman at a women’s girdle factory in Yorkshire. This is going through my mind. I am thinking: Get ready for the pitch, Man.
But instead he insists he is lost and needs to get access to his Hotmail account and may he log on to my laptop. He speaks broken English because he is French. So I consider the fact of the American Revolution and how his country did all those nice things for us. (After all, since then, the relationship’s been a little…strained…although now there’s a guy in office who might convince the French Language Puritan Nazis to let in such words as “laptop” and “Starbucks” to the rigid lexicon. So what if YouTube has a video of Sarkozy drunk at the G8 Conference. President G.H.W. Bush puked on the Japanese Prime Minister, remember?) We navigate out of my default Windows Live ID screen and away he goes into French MSN and his email account. He says it’s hard to get to the “web cafe.”
He finds the street address he’s looking for, on West 107th, and asks how far it is. Walk? Train? Taxi? I ask. Taxi, he says. About ten minutes. He looks comforted, gathers his things.
He does not ask me for money. He hasn’t lost a wind instrument of any kind.
I am happy.
photo: damo 4701