06 September 2014

An 'Odd Couple' Moment

My late father, while one who possessed the biggest heart and personified compassion, was not known for his gut-busting sense of humor or a proclivity to outbursts of uncontrolled laughing. That's simply not how he did things. I do recall a few times when I saw him laughing hard - whenever he watched "It's A Mad Mad Mad World," "The Jeffersons," or when I thought he might bust his spleen wide open watching Felix Unger act as his own counsel in an episode of "The Odd Couple." I thought of my dad earlier this week as I had a flashback to the opening credits of "The Odd Couple," specifically this scene:

Here we see the high-strung Felix about to get whacked by an old lady while attempting to help her cross the street. She's having none of it. A few nights ago, I was in the city, walking back from dinner with a group of colleagues from London and Hong Kong. We were at a light at 3rd Avenue and 42nd St., waiting for it to change. Standing next to me was an elderly woman, using a walker. I felt a tug on my elbow and discovered that it was the woman. She rasped, "So I'm going to need your help getting across this street. Can you do that?" I didn't hesitate to say yes. Delighted to know I wasn't going to get nailed across the face a la Unger, as the light changed, I took her by her elbow and we began our trek across the great chasm that is 42nd Street. She had the bone density of, oh I don't know, a paper towel tube and while fairly steady with that walker, I feared if she went down, her hip was going to snap as quickly as one Satan's spawn, a Kardashian, jumps to attention at the smell of cash or a paparazzi sighting. It was funny to listen to her kvetch about the state of New York City streets. She blamed both Bloomberg and DeBlasio so she seemed like an equal opportunity complainer. Safely across the street, she said thank you and waved me on as she made her way to the bus stop.

You had to admire her chuztpah. The city has been her home all her life, and she wasn't going to let a ruddy street stand in her way. She made me laugh. The encounter made my colleagues laugh as well and thus began an evening of good-natured teasing about the 'cougar' who had made me her prey. Thus is the British sense of humour.

I'm glad she asked me to help her. It only took a minute or two to do her that little favor. I like to think that as I do those things that some one will do the same for my mother or any one else's mother. It would serve me well to do more of those little things for others. Heck, if we all took just a minute or two to do something nice for others, and not to get all Pollyanna-ish here, wouldn't this world be a little bit better?

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