The other night I had to do a little shopping. Truth is when is shopping really pleasurable anymore? It's always I need this and I have to get that - for the kids! Rotten kids, always wanting to be first. Me me me. I'm kidding, okay? Okay.
So I am in search of what would seem to be The Holy Grail - yes, a plain navy blue sweater, the finest in the kingdom. How about the school's requirement - navy? So I strike off in search of this. No go, but I did find pillow shams, a jacket for Julian and socks for me.
While I waited in line to pay, I noticed the man's cart in front of me had pillows, a wooden vase and a towel. Nosy? Just passing time. He turned to me and must have noticed my noticing and asked "nice vase isn't it?" I reply "Why yes, I was just admiring it". He brags as he holds it up "What do you think, probably go for about $60 bucks in one of the stores in the city"? Me, "at least". As a frame of reference, the city he refers to is Manhattan, we are shopping here in Queens.
It's a long line, this store is infamous for them, but I decide to make the most of it with Stuart. He then goes on to showcase his poetic side by reciting several haikus, the self described most devastatingly touching line ever written - "not because I wrote it, people have had that reaction."; I reply "Of course, that's beautiful". I must admit to not hearing half of it as he went into a raspy poet voice in a lower register as price checks were heavy in the air at the adjacent register. He seemed pleased that I liked it. He was suing whichever drug company puts out Lipitor.
He then went into standup mode and told me several of his own jokes. We talked about our heritage and found our commonality - we're both Jewish - he by birth, me by choice. Both of us have some suspect heritage - he suspects his was Irish (which is my heritage for the most part) and I suspect mine could have been Jewish. He was quite interested in the heritage thing, but we quickly moved on to sports. Stuart was a great baseball player in his time (he attempted to unload an official Mets jacket as we waited). Thankfully I had the foresight to answer in the negative when he asked if anyone in my family was into official baseball jackets. As a New Yorker, you just know where these type of questions are leading. Stuart was still in good shape, as he patted his tummy, at 66. Yes, he had a hairtrigger temper, but not like in his youth when he would not hesitate to knock an eight ball right between your eyes in a fight. Somehow I sensed that about Stu.
He gave me his card which he explained had Alex on it because his middle name is Alexander and if I ever wanted a baseball jacket, well to please give a call.
With further exchanged pleasantries, we parted. I don't know, Stuart's a lifelong New Yorker - seemed pretty friendly to me.