Humanity in an unexpected moment

Sometimes a brief exchange with an unknown person marks you forever, not because it is profound but because it is uncommonly vivid. Over twenty years ago, I saw a man lying on the sidewalk at Broadway and 105th Street. I guessed that he was in his early sixties, but he may have been younger. Unshaven, filthy, and ragged, he lay on his side in an apparent stupor, clutching a bottle in a torn and wrinkled paper bag. As I walked past him, he suddenly propped himself up on his elbow and called out to me, “Hey, beautiful! Want to have dinner with me?” His question was so loud, so direct, I stopped. Looking down at the man at my feet, I said, “Thank you so much for the invitation, but I’m busy tonight.” Without a moment’s hesitation, he grinned up at me, lifted the bottle in a mock toast, and said, “Lunch?”

 Siri Hustvedt ,  A Plea  for Eros, 2003

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