Friday, November 3, 2017


It is a gorgeous sunny day in New England.  November 3rd and I do not need any sort of jacket.  I have the day off.  Looking forward to a relaxing autumn day.

I met my long time friend Ken for breakfast in Newton Centre.   We, as we do during these monthly get togethers, discussed all sorts of this and that, from politics, to retirement considerations, to sports--pick a topic and it surfaced above our eggs.

When we separated I saw that I'd placed a letter in the car that I needed to mail.  I could not recall where the post office was in Newton Centre, but it had to be around where we met to eat.  So, I put another quarter in the meter giving me twenty minutes to walk around the Centre and find either a mailbox or the post office itself.

It had gotten even warmer.  Not too hot so it was uncomfortable, but an unseasonably comfortable November day for these parts.  The town of Newton Centre has a bunch of different types of stores. Most of them are not my type.  Boutique clothing joints for the most part and expensive eateries with some sort of peculiar niche.  When I first came to  Boston to live temporarily in the summer of 1979, this same Ken took me to an Israeli restaurant which no longer exists, but is not atypical of the different kinds of eateries one can find in the area.

I found a mailbox, deposited the letter, and still had a few minutes left on the meter. I decided to take a walk around the block where the cute subway station is located.

Standing outside a parked car was a gray haired gent who I'd put about 70, but could have been a little younger.  He was leaning into the car and shouting.  As loud as his voice was when I first encountered it, it became even louder.  I thought he might have been a deranged fellow because at first I did not see anyone in the car, but then I saw a younger man in the passenger seat.  It was not difficult to make out what the older guy was saying. The message was something along the lines of, "I told you I don't want to ever see you again. This is not good. Get out of my life."  I then heard a bellowing from inside the car which I could not quite make out.  The older guy responded again shouting.

I deduced, maybe inaccurately--but I think correctly--that this was a father and son situation.  I heard the child screaming that the father should never threaten him this way again.  And the father again bellowed a response.  Then I heard the kid wail, "I just can't do this all alone."

I circled back. It was not because of altruism. I didn't think there would be a brawl. I was more curious than anything else.  I saw the younger man step out of the car.  He looked emotionally beaten, and maybe even physically so. There was a scab above his nose that could have been the result of some fight the night before, or even, the kid himself--I'm guessing in his mid to late thirties--banging his head against a wall.  He had on a rotten sweater with holes and not the kind of scarred garment kids now buy off the rack to be cool.

I doubled back a second time and the two were now in the car and the conversation had simmered some, but it was clear not all was settled in their universe.

Later I started to think about how cloudy even a beautiful day like this can be for those in emotional pain.  Who knows what is going on between those two.  I can imagine that the kid is a ne'er do well, and the dad has had it with the kid. The dad, according to this extrapolation, is at a point in his life where he cannot deal with the weight of whatever the kid is bringing to the table. And the kid, who knows for sure, is lugging around a hole in his heart after years of a less than loving homelife. And the kid has consciously or otherwise used the emotional gap in his guts as an excuse to veer along a destructive path that he could have avoided, but did not.

I am so fortunate to have come from a home where such a battle as the one I witnessed would be other worldly. Sure we had our spats. Unless you are a robot and parents were robotic as well, there are always bumps when rearing kids, but this was different by a time zone from any tete a tete we ever had.

For various reasons I have cloudy days even when the sun is bright, but for the most part I am able to enjoy the sunshine and laugh.  For the two I bumped into in beautiful, affluent, Newton Centre, I'm not sure the sun shines a whole lot today or on any day.  For them, the sky is forever cloudy.

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