Main | Friday, April 01, 2005

Hah!

He steps into the elevator at the 15th floor.

That's the floor entirely populated by a law firm that specializes in handling estate and probate issues for the wealthy of Manhattan. A few times I've been in the elevator when the doors opened to heated family arguments in their lavishly appointed lobby.

He looks like all the senior executives in Manhattan, sagging and defeated in his trenchcoat, bowtie, dark suit. His back is slightly stooped, his face is craggy, and his hair is grey and wild. A little bit Andy Rooney and a little bit Walter Matthau.

I'm fiddling with the display on my iPod, which for some reason has decided that it's 3:15 in the morning. I see the old man speaking to me, and yank my earplugs out.

"I'm sorry, what?"

"What's that you got there? Is that that iPod thing I keep hearing about?" he asks.

I hold my iPod out to him, "Well, it's one of them."

He examines it without taking it from me. "So THAT'S the thing that the bad guys are yanking outta people's hands on the subway?"

"Yeah."

He looks at me over the top of his glasses. "Well, you don't look like any guys would mess with YOU!"

I look at him and give him a wink, "And more's the pity."

He stares at me, expressionless.

Then, he lets out a whoop. "HAH! That's great! Hah! You almost got me! Hah!"

The elevator doors open and he turns and gives me a salute, "And Happy April Fool's to YOU, too!"

I think about correcting him, but he just seems so pleased, so alive, that I don't have the heart.

Just before the doors close, I hear him one last time, "Hah!"

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