Thoughts by Richard Bleil
For my regular readers, you might find it hard to believe, but I think I have a new girlfriend.
Okay, let’s begin at the beginning. Living with my friend, his apartment is maybe half a mile or so (probably a little bit less) from a little bodega. I enjoy referring to it as a “bordello”, but only because my sense of humor often wanes towards feigning ignorance. Walking there was a habit I picked up when I was sans vehicle, a habit that I happily continue to this day. It’s a good habit, after all. It saves a little gas which helps my budget and the environment, and it gets me out of the apartment periodically and into the day. Even before self-isolation I was a self-isolationist thanks to my depression and lack of self-confidence.
Last week, I decided to head to the bodega to grab a few things. It was sunny and warm and beautiful, and as I walked out of the apartment building, I heard the absolute cutest, tiniest sweetest little voice say “hi.” I looked around, seeing nothing but as I was looking I heard it once again. This sweet little voice was not in my head. So, I looked up, and there, on the balcony above the walkway I was on I saw the absolute cutest little girl, maybe three years old, with her mother.
Okay, just in case somebody out there hasn’t figured it out yet, when I say I have a “new girlfriend”, I mean it in that cute little innocent way like when a child says “you’re my boyfriend” without really understanding what it would mean when she’s older. It’s just a sweet little game that means nothing, but she was seriously adorable.
“Hi!” I said back. “How are you?” She replied, “How are you?” Okay, there’s a bit of a language barrier. And the next day, she and her mother were again on the balcony, and again she said hello.
What is it about children that is so cute, so sweet, and so innocent? They’re just a tiny little ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismal world? Still, so much can be learned from this little sweetheart.
We should all endeavor to be innocent as long as possible. It’s sad that in our society, and unfortunately before she gets very much older at all, she will have to learn to be defensive and leery of the intentions of men who give her attention. Unfortunately, it’s mostly men and their actions that necessitate this paranoia (although not entirely), and it’s usually the men (although not always) who are the ones who complain when women ignore them or refuse to talk with them. It’s more or less the ultimate irony of the male gender to have created their own little purgatory in which they live.
Something that this little sweetheart has taught me is just how far a little bit of kindness goes. When her sweet and very tiny voice said “hi”, it was like rocket fuel for my spirit rocket. Okay, maybe that analogy wasn’t out of this world (bah dahmp tss), but it’s also very true. Immediately it brought a smile to my depressed and dried face, and a little joy to my step. Being nice to each other is important. Maybe this seems out of place considering the previous paragraph, but it’s absolutely true. A simple “hi” can go a long way, a warm smile can brighten people’s days, unless the smile is hidden behind a mask thanks to Corvid-19.
Somebody in our apartment building has been playing “Elf on a Shelf” with a little toy frog in the stairwell. The frog is maybe only an inch big, just about the size that requires a “do not swallow” warning on the package, with movable limbs. Every once in a while, this little toy frog is someplace new, posed differently, just sitting there watching people as they climb the stairs to the top floor. I have no idea who is doing this (no, it’s not my new friend; I did ask her mother) but it’s another little activity that just makes me smile. A random act of happiness, and nobody has taken the frog, so I know I’m not the only one enjoying it.
These are trying times. With fears of the Coronavirus, with unemployment rivaling that of the Great Depression, with a collapsing stock market, and the prospect of the closings extending to the remainder of the year (not to mention the very real danger of a resurgence) people are dealing with intense levels of stress. We’re all in this together. As for me, I’m going to try to take a lesson from my new friend, be innocent, and bring a little warmth to people.