Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Clean Underwear

Well, the first day of November was promising—or at least interesting. Taught two 8th grade classes about New Orleans funerals and Jelly Roll Morton and had the good sense to ask some of the kids to say back to me in their own words a passage I had just read. Which revealed that they had no idea what it was about! Note to self: more discussion!

Went home early with a few deadlines staring me in the face and am happy to report I met them. Then found a place that could still convert VHS tapes to DVD, a necessary step to share some footage of my most important teacher, Avon Gillespie, who I will be honoring at an Orff National Conference next week. The place was bikeable, this old body needed exercise, the day was sunny and brisk and so the three nodded their heads in accord and off I went.  Like I said, a promising day.

But then riding back, the road felt unusually bumpy and I discovered I had a flat. I had just passed a bike shop, so back I went and they said they could fix it in 15 minutes. So I sat outside the store on a bench until I realized the direct sun was simply too much. Crossed the street to the shade, found a doorstep and took out my book to read.

It was then that someone passed by with a cart of sorts and held up something wrapped in plastic and asked, “Do you need any clean underwear? I have some right here.”

That was the moment it passed from “promising” to “interesting.” I just smiled and said “No thanks!” and then had all my second—and third and fourth— thoughts as he walked on. Things like:

• “I should have said, ‘How did you know?’” Ha ha! (Just for the record, I actually do wear clean underwear every day.)

• “Just because I’m sitting in a doorway, do I really look like a homeless man in need?”
(Again, I shaved today, my clothes were clean and passable and in my mind, my face and posture don’t communicate ‘down on my luck.’)

• “Are you the Bodhisattva of the homeless? The one who figured out a simple way to help and is circling the city like the Johnny Appleseed of clean underwear?”

Well, I’ll never know. But it sure made for an interesting day. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

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