Thursday, June 10, 2010


"That's an original man, that's an original!"

Kenny said that to me having noticed the YashMat just as the little green man lit up letting us know it was okay to cross Lexington at 42nd Street.

"Can I take your picture?" I asked as we walked.

"Yeah," he said, but it wasn't really just "yeah." It was more of a statement that I wasn't sure if he meant that I could take his photo right there, or like, "yeah, you can take my picture with that, you can take anybody's picture with that because that's an original man, that's an original!" Trust me, the possible subtext was there.

Once we crossed he kept on walking and I stopped for some reason. Okay, I'm remembering. I stopped to take some shots of the Chrysler building. And then I caught up to him. Or maybe he caught up to me. Somehow we ended up on the sidewalk together talking about cameras, and after telling me he had a Minolta on him he said, "Get it out of my knapsack."


"Just put your hand in the big zipper compartment and take it out," he said as he turned his back to me. My first attempt ended up with my hand somehow getting tangled in hisAM New York vest. My second attempt got into the right compartment, yet I somehow had my hand also going through the little loop up top that you would use to hang the knapsack on a hook. I wonder what people passing by on 42nd thought of us in this near-comprimising position. I felt the big plastic camera and pulled it out. He held it and smiled, telling me that he got it for only five bucks at a photo shop that was going out of business.

"Well," I said, "film's out now. Everything's digital. Can I take your picture?"

After I took the shot I was about to give him a card, but didn't. We just shared some parting pleasantries and I went on my way, feeling instantly bothered. Why didn't I give him a card?

I was about to give him a card, but I didn't. Why. What was I afraid of? Was I afraid of what the middle aged negro might think when he saw my site? Afraid of what he might think when he saw his picture on my site, after not telling him that it would be on my site? Afraid of someone who would let another man put his hand down the back of his knapsack? Afraid of a man who was nothing but nice and genuine and happy to see a man with a twin lens reflex hanging from his neck? Someone who also had a film camera on his person? If it were a chick I'd have given her my card without hesitation.

I had already turned the corner having instantly regretted my decision, yet I didn't turn back and give him a card. It was too late. He was too nice not to get a card.

I'm realizing that this is now two out of my last three posts that deal with me having issues in dealing with other people, issues of being open to other peoples' openness.

There might be a pattern here.

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