Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Two Young Hearts, and One Park Bench


Our instructor gave us an hour and a half for lunch.  That was pretty standard for a software release training session back in the 70’s.  It would be plenty of time to pop into a Deli, grab a sandwich, and walk a few blocks to the park so I could sit and eat. 

Eight bucks!  New York City prices, but it was a New York City sandwich, massive, and loaded with meat and condiments.  I would indeed have to find a place to sit and eat or I’d make a mess of myself. 

The park was crowded for such a brisk November day. Then I saw a spot.  Two young women, one black, one white, sitting on a park bench that was plenty big enough for the three of us.  Both young women were beautiful.  As I approached the bench I recalled how my college roommate from Philadelphia would have referred to the beautiful woman of color, “She think she be the Queen of Sheba.” So then, sitting on the bench there is one, Queen of Sheba, and seated next to her, a heavenly vision, with a peaches and cream complexion highlighted by the brisk November wind on her cheeks.  Her dirty blond hair was shimmering in the autumn sunlight, and so nicely laying across the shoulders of her expensive camel hair jacket.  There was a halo of propriety around her; she must be “The Snow Princess.”

As I approached, the Queen of Sheba elbowed the Snow Princess and I read her lips as she said, “Here comes a good looking guy.”  She whispered something else unintelligible, and the Snow Princess broke into a broad smile, but did not look towards me.  Then the Queen of Sheba stood up and started walking away.  I sat down next to the Snow Princess and started to unwrap my sandwich.  The Snow Princess turned her head slightly towards me and she timidly said hello.

Her name was Christine.  Everything about her was high class.  Her scrupulously neat appearance, the pure white of her perfectly aligned smile, the CC logo on her wrap-around sunglasses. I could not see the label on the clothes she wore, but I did not have to, my eye could tell quality when I saw it.  Her posture, her inner cool, her charm; everything said money, everything that is, except the ease with which she was having a conversation with me, a total stranger.

We talked and listened to each other like two shy yet eager young lovers on a journey of mutual discovery.  In a mere 20 minutes I knew her favorite song, favorite movie, favorite book, and the TV shows she loved to watch.  On the other hand, I was a bit hard pressed for casual conversation. I was not well read at the time, I hated TV, and having recently graduated from a Southern school, our musical references were quite different. I had to fill her in on what the band  Lynyrd Skynyrd was all about.

All the time her up-town poise was palpable.  I dared to study her with my eyes drifting over her, head to toe, whenever her head was tilted upward or away from eye contact as she spoke.  Her brightly polished sensible heels, her long thin legs, covered in exquisitely tailored fall pants.  Her hands folded lady like in her lap, a strap around her right wrist that must be securing some expensive beaded purse, but most importantly, no wedding or engagement ring in sight.

Sooner than wanted the Queen of Sheba returned.  Her jacket was parted just enough to reveal her green scrubs and ID Tag.  “It’s time to get back home Christine… almost one.”

Christine rubbed her index finger over the face of her wristwatch, stood up suddenly and while still looking straight ahead she said, “I’ve really enjoyed meeting you Don, perhaps we will meet again.”

“I’d like that very much Christine, it was wonderful meeting you too.”

Christine dropped a bunch of white sticks from her hand and pulled back on the strap around her wrist, snapping the white sticks into a single white rod.  The Queen of Sheba took her by the arm as Christine rhythmically tapped her way out of the park heading West, and I turned and walked to the East, back to my seminar, my uneaten $8 sandwich still in hand.

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