Friday, June 30, 2006

Best Friends Forever

Strangely enough, now that I’m all settled in Brooklyn, one of the people I miss most from my old neighborhood is the banana man.

Not him. I'm talking about one of the fruit vendors just off Astor Place who I’d pass nearly every day. And if I happened to have a quarter in my pocket, I’d buy a banana from him before walking down the subway stairs.

It wasn't an enjoyable transaction; he never smiled, barely made eye contact, and always seemed visibly unexcited by the fruit-selling business, which I guess I can understand. But after a year or so (over 150 bananas exchanged), I began to expect at least a nod of recognition—just a hint of an affirmation that I did indeed exist as a part of his world. I needed to know he was at least aware that he wasn’t just smashing his bananas into the ground, where they’d magically transform into quarters. No. I had something to do with it—a LOT to do with it—and his refusal to look me in the eye, his never saying a single word, his persistent indifference to all things me—it was beginning to piss me off.

I tried going to another fruit vendor around the corner. But bananas, as much as I love ‘em, just aren’t worth an extra two block walk in the morning. Instead, I realized I had to work with what I had. So I started to say, “good morning.”

Not that I particularly cared what his morning was like. Mine was a “good morning” born of spite and resentment, and part of me hoped he knew it.

A week of "good mornings" passed until, pretty much out of nowhere, things changed. I approached his cart, grabbed a banana, and held out a quarter. But before I could say anything, he suddenly spoke…

“Hello, my friend.”

…and I melted. You see, that bitch-of-a-bastard had discovered perhaps the most unfortunate of all my consumer weaknesses: if you want me to purchase your goods or services, apparently all you have to do is call me one of the following:

~my friend
and even sometimes,

I don’t know if it’s the years of living in a brusque and anonymous city, or if it’s just some strange genetic disposition, but show me the slightest suggestion of human compassion and camaraderie, and I will latch onto it, remaining your most loyal customer until I drain my savings or die.

If anyone has any sort of product that can help cure such a condition, please let me know; I’d be happy to be manipulated by your kindness and purchase it.