Call Me Carlos

Between deliveries, sometimes I like to sit on a park bench and just, well, I'll be honest, stare off into space. I'm not a particularly deep thinker. On one such occasion, I found a free bench in the park near Columbus Circle and I was doing my thing, eyes fully glazed and mouth slightly ajar. It was one of those weather-less days wherein the temperature was neither cool nor warm; a slight breeze was the only evidence of an atmosphere. Suddenly I heard the voice of an old woman next to me asking how old I was. It was a jarring question because of its forward nature and because contemplating my own mortality is never something I particularly enjoy. I told her and noticed that she was not the usual crazy person who engages in random conversation, but a rather well put-together woman who looked to be somewhere in her seventies.

She smiled as though remembering herself at my age. "It's so important to appreciate every day you're alive." I nodded, not finding fault with this logic. "When I was your age, I went out all the time. I danced. I went to nightclubs. I ventured into strange men's apartments. Life was an adventure." I thought about my own wild adventures in a mental montage of memories: Me eating ice cream while watching television. Me working. Me playing Candy Crush on my iPhone at two in the morning. Somehow I don't think I was living up to her standards of "appreciating every day you're alive." She asked me what I did and I told her I delivered flowers, to which she looked me up and down with a concerned face and asked if I was Carlos. I said I wasn't and she apologized before moving to another bench where a twenty-something year-old Latino boy was sitting. I saw her engage him in conversation and then, after a few minutes, watched in horror as the two of them shared a long, slow intimate kiss.

To this day I have no idea what that was about, but I no longer engage strangers in conversation on park benches. And if I do, I now use the name Carlos.

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