I was recently sitting on the 1 train trying to persevere and finish a New Yorker article I had convinced myself had to be finished even though my interest had waned dramatically. A disheveled, older gentleman probably a few sandwiches short of a picnic pushes by, looks down at me and my magazine and says, “The New Yorker… alright!!!”
I instantly sat up straight and nodded as if to say, “yessir, it is the New Yorker. And I am reading it. And as everyone knows, that must mean I am smart.” And then he was gone. But I continued to wear my badge proudly.
(Just so you know, the magazine provides so much more than an ego boost – we also use them as decorative accessories across our home! We’ve got a stack of them that sit atop my dresser, a “throw” magazine on our couch, two issues that could be mistaken as place mats on our kitchen table, a few perched atop our console table in our entry way, and one each that my wife and I are technically reading on our nightstands.)
I do enjoy reading the New Yorker. Especially the articles I finish. My favorite writer is Andy Borowitz. He’s a political satirist and his column, The Borowitz Report, usually takes on volatile issues with great humor, perhaps softening the blow of partisan polarizing politics? Or not.
Last week, my daughter and I were heading to school when the train doors opened welcoming aboard fresh cattle. This guy walks on the train with his daughter in tow. He looks familiar. But I can’t place him.
Is that long-ish face your wearing the same one I’ve seen in cartoon form on top of your articles? Are you a famous satirist with over one million followers?
I craned my neck to get a better look at his (school-parent) badge at the end of his lanyard necklace without being too overt. I could read his first name. “Andy.”
“Excuse me, are you thee Andy Borowitz?”
It was him. (It’s not that far fetched though. New York City’s kind of a small town and we both live there. On the same subway line.) I don’t usually get star struck but I had a perma-grin and would’ve hugged him had we not been two grown men who never met before.
He was very personable. We talked about the Iowa Caucus (that night), our favorite articles and authors in the magazine, commuting to school, and being a dad. He has a six year old daughter, too.
It was a fun New York minute. I was excited to tell my wife about it so we could laugh and agree on how cool it was. Nothing like unexpected encounters to brighten one’s day, especially when it is with someone you “know” in one context but meet in another.
Such was the case when I was given an awesome opportunity to be a Mystery Reader for my daughter’s class. Parent volunteers are given a book to read to the class from behind a curtain, and the class then asks questions to try and figure out whose parents are reading.
We read “Falling For Rapunzel.” And I was Rapunzel (as well as the maid because we only had three readers for four parts). Reading female roles made disguising my voice a tiny bit easier. Kind of.
And the proof was in the pudding as my friend Ben, who played the narrarator, was exposed almost immediately because his voice is pretty recognizable, especially as a man, and by his daughter.
Questions started coming rapid fire. As rapid fire as can be from first graders.
“Are you wearing boots?”
My fellow MYSTERY READERS and I looked at one another and one by one in our disguised voices answered “no.”
“Are you wearing sneakers?”
Again, my fellow MYSTERY READERS and I looked at one another but this time we all answered “yes.”
“How about black sneakers?” “Is your favorite color green?” “Is your favorite color blue?”
“Do you have a beard?”
I thought they were onto me and my seconds in disguise were numbered. Even though I don’t wear a beard. Though I did have a bit more than a 5 o’clock shadow that morning. But then it dawned on me… how would they know that? They wouldn’t.
And then I heard my daughter’s voice.
“Are you bald?”
She was too shy to take a “guess” but her best buddy, acting as her proxy, asked if it was me.
When I emerged from behind the curtain, my daughter was already heading towards me wearing a smile from ear to ear.
It was like Christmas x 10 for her… and me! She hugged me and wouldn’t let go! I LOVED it. And melted.
It’s funny to watch how excited children get seeing their parents on school premises when we’d dropped them off a mere two hours earlier and were picking them up three hours later. If only it could be this way all the time.
I suppose it’s contextual. And I’m thankful I had the opportunity to participate because it was awesome. World…it’s on!