Monday, July 24, 2006

348. The score

An aside having little to do with chanting or Judaism, but much to do with hinei ma tov umaniym, living together in harmony:

I love my city. Yesterday I went into the deli that occupies a storefront of my apartment building in order to stock up on seltzer. The deli specializes in food like Twinkies and fried onion rings, so I try to avoid temptation and shop there as infrequently as possible. But I'm a big fan of their ATM machine, my closest possible source of cash. Since most of the deli's patrons show up to buy lottery tickets, I rarely have to wait on line. It's a businesslike kind of place, with few people hanging around for conversation.

Yesterday, however, I walked in as a ruddy-faced blonde gentleman in his 40s with a generous beer belly was grilling the Egyptian store owner who stood behind the counter.

"What do you mean, you don't know?" he said in a booming voice. "I bet the next person who walks in here would know!" As if on cue, the door opened and a young Asian man entered and headed for the magazines.

"Excuse me," bellowed the beer belly. "Who won the game today?"

"Mets," answered the Asian man. "But I don't know the score."

"Thank you!" said the beer belly." "See?" he smiled at the store owner.

The Egyptian man leaned intently over the counter. "And what sport is this?" he asked.

"Baseball," explained the blonde guy. "You see, there are two teams in New York, the Mets and the Yankees..." I paid for my seltzer as the men stood head to head on either side of the counter, deep in conversation. I wondered if the store owner would then give the beer belly guy a primer on soccer, er, football. I wondered if the leaders of their respective countries could ever be this congenial with each other. I wished I could invite those leaders, and a few others, over to the deli for a beer or two and a lesson on how to live with their neighbors.

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