And it’s a perfect day, weather-wise. And I’ve got a free couple of hours between the last meeting and the next flight, so the Marketplace at Faneuil Hall seems like a good idea. Table for one, please, outside on the rim, thank you.
I drop my bags, pull out my laptop, order a Pinot Grigio and a Diet Pepsi – two of the main food groups in my world – and something edible…don’t remember what…doesn’t matter…not a major fan of food during the day.
Anyway, here I sit, nestled in for an hour or two, enjoying two of my favorite passtimes – people-watching and story-embellishing. Embellishing did I say? Ok, that would be a “no.” Totally making up is more like it. The area is filled with an amazing array of subject matter – tourists, locals, skinny ones, ample ones, loud ones, pensive ones, and here and there, the occasional hot-house flower.
Like Freesia, for instance. I call her Freesia because the air that follows her, smells delicious. She wafts, she doesn’t walk, and she weighs next to nothing, so that when she wafts, it’s delicately, cautiously, tentatively…but she leads with a beautiful face, and her face is a shield, I think, against a world that can be too harsh for her carefully manicured, personal aesthetic. But she’s lovely. And she perseveres and she shares her beauty and grace because they are her gift.
As she passes, leaving the air more fragrant, I see four German tourists coming this way. They are in their late 70s/early 80s, and exude vim and vigor, which is a much more charming way of saying they look healthy and enthusiastic about life. Two men, two women, all remarkably tanned and wrinkled, and still naturally, wonderfully beautiful in their really short shorts, brightly colored T-shirts, and heavy, industrial strength sandals. They sit down at the table next to mine and let out a unified, exuberant sigh, implying how fortunate we all are to be here, right now, enjoying this perfect day, and doesn’t that call for a beer? Yes, I think it does.
One of the ladies, we’ll call her Amelie because I love that name, turns toward me and asks very politely if I know the time. I tell her. She says, “thank you.” I say, “you’re very welcome.” She smiles a radiant smile and says, “we love your country.” I say, “thank you, I do too; and I love yours as well.” A conversation begins. It’s easy and animated and fun – filled with vim and vigor – and eventually when its time for them to go, we all introduce ourselves, and Amelie says to me, “Americans are so kind! We’re so sorry about your President.”
Honey, you said a mouth full.
As they go on their way, heads held high, taking in everything, I notice they pass two men sitting on a low fence under a tree. The men are very well-dressed in expensive suits, neckties and very good shoes. I look around to see if there’s a camera crew nearby, because, let’s face it, you don’t see that a lot anymore. No cameras, so they must be in finance, real estate or they work in a men’s clothing store. Whatever the case, they’re having a heated discussion ready to spill over at any moment. One is 60-ish, though he looks older. One is 40-ish, though he dresses younger. I’m guessing the older one, I’m calling him Edward, is the boss of the younger one, I’m calling him Ricardo, and Ricardo has over-stepped his bounds once too often. It’s not looking good for Ricardo right now. His job is on the line…..or…..maybe I’m completely wrong and they just disagree about the World Cup. Possible.
As if on an invisible signal, they both check their watches at the same time, both stand up, both button the top button of their jackets, both straighten the back hems of their jackets, both subtly shake out their pant legs, and turn to go, walking in unison, a good three feet between them. I’m back to thinking it’s the boss scenario playing out…..and it doesn’t look good for Ricardo.
I sip my wine and scan my surroundings. So many sories yet to observe or invent.The Marketplace is a gold mine for central casting today. Everyone and everything is represented. And we’re all co-existing beautifully, fluidly, naturally. So very different. So very much the same. People make room for each other. People smile at total strangers. There is always a sound of laughter filtering in from somewhere near or far. Even Edward and Ricardo have kept the lid on their disagreement, because they’re in a public place, it’s a beautiful day and it’s the right thing to do.
Americans are so kind, I think to myself. Yes, indeed we are.
Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.
– Franklin D. RooseveltRead Article
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