The Hitchhiker Part 2
By Gary Sorkin
A few months ago I wrote a story about the day I broke one of those rules we all live by. You know the ones: Never run with a scissors in your hand, never go swimming after lunch, and NEVER pick up a hitchhiker. Well, I broke rule number 3 one day when an elderly gentleman held up his hand as I was driving by. The story had a happy ending, as this 92 year old dapper man told me a bit of his life. Of course, I had checked his jacket pocket for the "bulge" of a gun - there was none, and I didn't wind up on the side of the road with a bullet in my heart or my head cut off.
(You can read The Hitchhiker Part 1 in my archives.)
As I said, a happy ending.
Today, I was riding the same route, when in the distance I saw him walking towards me. He was waving his hand in my direction. No problem, I stopped and let him in the passenger side of my car. I asked if he had remembered me from the last time "I had broken the rules and gave him a ride?" He certainly did.
It was just after the Jewish New Years and we wished each other, "Happy New Year." He said something in Yiddish I did not understand, but I know a blessing when I hear one. Then he said, "and a Happy New Years to your family and loved ones." I thought for a second, and wondered what I should say back to him. After all a 92 year old man might not have much family left, so I simply said, "and the same to you and yours." Then I asked, "Who do you live with?"
A Love Story
"My wife of course," said he. I was curious. "Your first wife? Your forth wife?" He gave me a look as if I were crazy and proceeded to tell me a wonderful love story.
This is him talking so I will paraphrase it for you.
The Beat Of My Heart
It was in the 1920's I believe, my memory of dates is not as good as it once was. I lived on the sixth floor, apartment 6-B, of an apartment house in the Bronx, and she lived on the seventh floor, apartment 7-B. I could hear her footsteps above my head every night. Each step she took was like the beat of my heart. She was the most gorgeous girl I had every seen. I was much too shy to approach her, after all a girl that pretty must have dozens of "beaus." I'd hide behind the staircase every day and watch her as she climbed that sixth floor steps to her apartment. One day, she saw me. I was so embarrassed. We started talking and within a few weeks I had worked up enough courage to ask her out on a date. One date led to two and then another and another. I felt like the luckiest guy on earth. I "courted" her for three years, and then out of pure exhaustion and the realization that I wasn't going to go away, she married me.
"Wow, how old were you at the time?" I asked.
He started to count on his wrinkled fingers but was getting frustrated. "I don't remember, I'm not so good at math anymore. I guess I was about twenty-something. I can tell you this youngster (how we all LOVE being called "youngster") - we just celebrated our 70th wedding anniversary.
I was smiling as I dropped him off at the convenience store. I told him how lucky he is. He got out slowly and added one more sentence to this tale of love. He said, "She's still the most gorgeous girl I've ever seen."
I was so tempted to ask if she had a younger sister for me. Instead I said, "Wish her a happy New Years for me."
He said that Yiddish thing again. I said, "Thank you."
I know a blessing when I hear one.