Not long ago, I walked onto the subway and saw a sagely beautiful man sitting in an otherwise deserted car. Flashes of silver streaked in his onyx ponytail and the stubble on his face was speckled with grey. I sat across from him, taking in his dark eyes, his deep wrinkles, his coffee-colored skin. I was in awe of his meditative position, his prayerful hands, his soulful demeanor. I wanted to absorb everything about him.
At the next stop, a gaggle of girls interrupted my admiration. As I meditated on the profundity of the man sitting before me, their morning drinking and excessive giggles were pure distraction and sure signs of their youth.
And then it happened, a moment so magical and so mundane it is still astonishing. One of the tall blonde nymphs popped open another bottle of something sweet and alcoholic, and the cap flew across the seat back and landed next to the beautiful man’s foot. We both glanced at it, but none of the girls seemed to notice.
Slowly, gracefully, the man I had been admiring bent down on one knee, almost as if to propose, and gently lifted the cap toward the young girl. She barely glanced down at the beauty humbling himself before her. The silly girl interrupted her giggles long enough to utter “dankeschön” as if it were part of a song and then returned to her friends. The gentleman likewise, returned to his seat, his silence, and his own world.
Only I seem to have noticed the bizarre proposal between understanding and innocence. I alone was altered by their exchange. I found myself somewhere between youth and grace, able to witness both, but participate in neither. I am naïve enough to be moved by such tiny moments, but not wise enough to simply let them go. I am neither a sage nor a nymph, but merely a chronicler of moments not significant enough for anyone else to remember.