The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Monday, December 12, 2016

"Wheat. I'm Dead,They're Talking About Wheat."

Beyond the fact that Love and Death introduced me to Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije Suite, its sly takeoff on Russian novels, and the films of Ingmar Bergman got me when I was too young to get the references. As I grew older, my affection for the film only grew.

There's a wisdom under the humor, though, that is very evocative for me. Allen's film is funny throughout, but it's profoundly humane, with its delicate, gawky send up of heroism, its affectionate malice to overwrought classics in print and film--a simple joy in life.

In a fraught time it's easy to forget that. And I should remember.

I had a charming encounter at the Second Avenue Deli yesterday. I was in clericals, on my way up to Albany after my last service of the day, and the Starbridge book study I have been leading, and la Caterina was driving me from St Barts to Penn Station (we were to grab lunch en route).

Anyway, traffic was murderous, so we stopped at Second Avenue Deli for pastrami. As I waited for one of the two countermen to get to me, I was engaged, just a little shyly, by a youngish (I'd say 30s) man and his wife. They kept kosher, so he was ordering with care. But when the counterman gave them each a hefty sample of pastrami, they gestured toward me. Teh contemn sliced me off some, and we all exchanged smiles.

"You have to live a little," he said.

"It may not be good for you every day," she added. "But when it's good pastrami--"

Her husband joined in--

"Then you have to live a little," they concluded.

"You never know," the husband added, with a little subfusc humor.

"I'm optimistic," his wife pertly replied.

The white haired, rubicund counterman, beaming, said "Every morning, I thank God for giving me my life back from the night."

The husband chuckled. "Seriously?"

"Seriously," the counterman replied. "What a gift--and it never gets old."

Just as well I hadn't preached that day. I can't compete with that mini-sermon, seasoned with a generous free sample of pastrami.

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