I‘m speechless. I honestly can’t bring myself to talk about how as of last Tuesday the President of the United States is Donald Trump. So I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to tell you a happy story, and hopefully in doing so, do my part in making your world seem a little sunnier on these gloomy, gloomy days.
As our country was slowly plotting its demise last Tuesday, my Pop Pop and I decided to start a column in the NYT’s to let off some steam. He chose one called “The Metropolitan Diaries” which are essentially little screenshots of the lives of New Yorkers. They’re not Pulitzer Prize winning materials but they’re the kind of stuff that make you happy to be a New Yorker/American again-and let’s face it that’s something we all need right now. They were all very charming and after reading them my Pop Pop’s was reminded of his very own metropolitan diary that goes something like this:
Many years ago when my Pop Pop graduated from college he moved to New York from his home in small, provincial East Rochester, NY to try to make it as a writer. My Nana also lived there and because they were both struggling young people they often entertained themselves cheaply by doing things like riding the Staten Island Ferry and taking long walks.
As my Pop Pop tells the story, one day he and Nana were taking a walk down Bleecker Street, and not the Michael Kors, hybrid croissant dessert Bleecker Street we know today. We’re talking about the real Bleecker Street, the one with three different Italian butcher shops and a nonna with a stark opinion about your hair cut on every corner.
On this particular walk a little boy came up to my Pop Pop and said, “Hey Mista! You know where 272 Bleeka is?”
Logically my Pop Pop wanted to help him and said, “Well let’s see, come with me and we’ll look. There it is… 272 Bleecker St.”
The kid then replied, “I know! I live there! I just wanted to see if you knew.”
From that point on little Vincent Vella, the “wise guy,” became a character in my Pop Pop’s life. If they encountered each other on the streets they’d talk, if my Pop Pop was going to church near by Vincent would say “I’ll walk ya.” They even went to meet Vincent’s family at one point. And when my Pop Pop was drafted into the army, Vincent was there the morning before my Pop Pop shipped out.
“When do you leave?” he asked my Pop Pop.
“I have a flight around 7,” my Pop Pop said.
“You gonna be flying ova the city?”
“Yeah, sure. I’ll be flying over the city.” My Pop Pop replied although he knew it to be a lie.
“Alright, I’ll tell ya what. I’ll be standin on this roof and when you fly ova, I’ll be wavin this big ol’ blanket and all you gotta look down and wave me goodbye.”
The craziest thing isn’t that they went on to become friends. It’s that little wise cracking Vincent Vella went on to become an actor. Unsurprisingly, being featured in a few gangster movies most notably one with Robert De Niro.
It’s these types of random human connections that remind us that we’re not all that different, whether we’re happy this week or not. So the next time you’re walkin down the street or are stuck on the subway, don’t do the easy thing and become an introvert. Talk to people, exchange a smile, maybe even a laugh. It’s all we can do to mend the split that has obviously infected our nation. And hey who knows, maybe your version of a Vincent Vella will end up being a Beyoncé or Leonardo DiCaprio some day.