Charles, one of our friends and frequent CFP contributors, is a warm and friendly guy. Everyone loves Charles. So sometimes I think, I should be more like Charles, who is open and easy and strikes up conversations right and left with strangers. Charles gets invited to everyone’s birthday parties. The “do you have a minute for gay rights” people stop their spiel and compliment him on his tee-shirts and offer him coffee. I’ve seen Charles in action and he just moves smoothly through the world, making friends, swapping recipes, complimenting shoes. I just yank myself through the world, skittering sideways like a nervous crab, perpetually threatening to send angry letters.
I want to be friendlier in general. So in the taxi back from my Park Slope OB, I decided to say something pleasant to the cab driver rather than just skim my phone for updates on NSA privacy-breaching scandals or Facebook pictures of babies.
“This is such a nice neighborhood, isn’t it?” I offered. (We were driving down 3rd Street through Park Slope. It’s leafy, it’s sun-dappled, it’s $4 million for a brownstone.)
“I mean, who can afford to live here, right? But still, so nice.”
“Who can afford to live here?” he snorted. “You can thank the city for that.”
“Oh,” I said. “Yeah.”
“Every weekend, people moving out. Moving vans everywhere. No one can stay here.”
“Yeah,” I said, wondering exactly how the city is to blame.
“I’D LIKE TO PUT A BULLET IN THE HEAD OF THE PEOPLE WHO DID THIS TO US,” he screamed.
“Oh, dear,” I said, fondling my phone and its comforting pictures of babies.
“You couldn’t, though,” he said. “The rest of your life in jail and what good would that do? But if I had a terminal illness—bam! A BULLET IN THE HEAD OF EVERYONE WHO DID THIS TO US.”
“Um-hmm,” I said.
“Starting with THE NAZIS,” he said.
“The Nazis were bad,” I agreed. We were barreling across the canal now at 50 miles per hour, honking maniacally at everyone coming towards us or away from us.
“HITLER WAS THE WORST,” he yelled, and beeped at everyone stopped at a red light. “A BULLET IN THE HEAD.”
“Yes!” I said. “He was the worst!”
“Also!” he screamed. “THE SODA BAN.”
“I’ll just get out here,” I said, and tossed a generous tip over the front seat.
So much for being like Charles.