Stanley and I were out walking, making the rounds to Garden of Eden and Jefferson Market. The rules of the sidewalks and roads had lifted; everyone was out on blankets, on the sidewalks, on rooftops, on 14th st. & 6th, sitting in the middle of the street. The rooftops were dense with sunbathers and people who seemed to have everything they owned on their blankets–a picnic, but with the post-9/11 fragrance of surveillance and internalized alarm.
Stanley wanted to be out among this and so we found a towel and spread it out on 5th ave next to a mother and a boy of about 9. Stanley sat very still on the blanket watching people. The boy kept looking over at him, as if Stanley’s quiet had pulled him into its field, and, for a moment, the boy’s gaze was indistinguishable from Stanley’s, and then the boy came back into what he had known of himself, and he looked at his mom, and then at Stanley, and tapped his shoulder and said, “Hey Mister, are you doing a Gandhi imitation?”
The edge of my towel touched the boy’s blanket and I leaned into him and told him something like, “You don’t know what you’re saying,” or “You can’t talk to him like that” whatever it was, I was bristling like a rottweiler. Stanley put his hand on my shoulder and turned me away from the boy and told me, “Genine you can’t hurry him out of his innocence.”