Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
The Kindest Greeting
by Craig Harris
From the day I moved in the guy bugged me. Of course he was only being friendly, introducing himself, welcoming me to the neighborhood. We exchanged names, he seemed to remember mine forever. I immediately forgot his. He looked to be an aging Dead head: gray hair, Jerry Garcia belly. I wanted to wash my hands after the shake. Something may have rubbed off.
I suspected he lived off some kind of disability. My assigned parking space was a walkway from his front door and he always appeared to be home. Anyway, his door was always open, his television blaring sports channel stuff. Or he was poking around outside. From the get-go I marked him to be avoided.
But he can't be avoided. Often he is milling around outside his apartment and I am forced to encounter him when I pull in to park or when I approach my car to leave. And this is a small neighborhood. Now I have encountered him elsewhere.
One day as I was leaving the local juice shop after a morning wheat grass, I was appalled. There he was. He was wearing what I suppose was a Beatles t-shirt that said "All You Need Is Love."
"You see this shirt," he said to me.
"Yes, I do," I told him, blinking.
"This shirt is for you," he said, extending his finger and pointing at me.
Now, I am a polite person. I was determined to reply politely.
"Very good," I said without affect. I thanked him and went on my way.
But as I drove, I was pissed. "All You Need Is Love." That man dared to suggest that he had love and I did not. That somehow I did not know some secret of life or that he was on some spiritual path I was not. "This shirt is for you," just echoed in my brain. "All You Need Is Love."
That man thinks he's better than me. That man thinks I need a loving message.
Sometimes the best way to love your neighbor is to be quiet, I wanted to tell him. Sometimes the best way is to leave him be. Look down, look away when you see him coming. Sometimes the kindest greeting is not saying hello.
Craig Harris is a long time Sonoma County resident and lover of literature. Sometimes he writes a little bit. He has had a few poems published over the years and was once a finalist in the Bay Guardian poetry competition.
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