Another one of Dana's short New York stories.
I seem to have trouble visualizing accurately how my face betrays my age. Especially when I hit a patch of exhaustion and my color drains completely. On my birthday I went to Trinity Church to hear a concert by a group called Alhambra. They specialize in Sephardic songs accompanied by very exotic instruments. Sensuous and rhythmic 14th and 15th century melodies. When they ended, I was caught in their spell. But hunger and fatigue had to be remedied. I crossed the street to a dingy pizza joint and ordered a large orange juice. Then I plopped down at a corner table to simply rest. I closed my eyes for a moment and awoke suddenly when a young Asian woman poked her nose in my face and asked tenderly “Are you all right?” followed by, “May I buy you some lunch?”
My first thought was “I really must buy a new winter coat. My God, I must look dowdy."
“No lunch, please.” I told her I was enjoying my birthday but just needed a little rest. Then I stood up and left the place. She followed me asking where I lived and how I was planning to travel home. I kept reassuring her that I would take the subway, as usual. She offered to escort me down the steps. I refused her kind help Then she put something in my right hand and ran into the crowd. I opened my hand to find a neatly folded $5 bill. I was truly shocked but also touched and somewhat ashamed at her judgment of me. Her compassion brought tears to my eyes. So that’s how I appear to her!
When I got home I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror. There she was – the dear little old lady or perhaps the sad little crone needing a good meal. I swore I’d save that $5 bill forever. But I broke my vow 4 days later.
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