Jewish World Review
April 19, 2011
/ 15 Nissan, 5771
Taking a chance to say, Hi
For years, my family has vacationed in the same Florida town. In fact, we just returned home after spending a week of spring break there with our three sons.
Many nights, we take the same scenic drive to dinner at a favorite restaurant. As we travel along Gulf Shore Boulevard, we admire a combination of small beach apartments, swanky high-rises, and spectacular homes.
A few years ago, we noticed that whenever we drive this particular route, there are always two men sitting in front of the same third-floor window of a low-rise apartment building that overlooks the road. All that is visible from the road are their two silhouettes. Even during off-peak months, they've always been there.
Over the years, we've had great fun speculating about who they are, whether they're having a drink, and if so, what they fancy, where they're from, and what they might be discussing. Our guesses have become a modern form of car bingo. Widowers? Retirees? Partners? We've run through the gamut of possibilities.
Eventually, I started beeping the horn as we passed. We'd wave. Our new friends would do likewise. There was something comforting in seeing them. In a world of constant change, it's been nice to look up and see that they are there, same as we remembered from our last visit.
And then last spring, we drove by and they were missing. The apartment was dark. No one was visible in the window. Funny thing, we grew worried about two people we'd never met. Where did they go? Was everything all right? A new round of the guessing game. Too bad, because we had started to joke about dropping in on them to fill in the missing pieces.
On our last trip at Christmastime, we were relieved to see them once again. We were driving past about 6 p.m., and there they were at cocktail hour. I told my wife that I suspected they were gin drinkers and said we should buy them a bottle. She said that if I bought it, she'd deliver it. I said, "Tomorrow."
So I bought a bottle of Bombay, and en route to dinner at dusk the next night, we speculated with our three boys as to their names and why they had disappeared during our last visit.
Approaching the usual stretch, we were pleased to see the light was on. This time, there were three images in the window, not two. Our friends were entertaining. I pulled over.
My wife, accompanied by our 10-year-old, boldly got out, clutching the gin, and headed toward the stairs to their door. I remained behind with the other two boys, and parked across the street. Then she disappeared from our line of sight.
In a scene reminiscent of Hitchcock's "Rear Window," we watched as one of the men rose to answer the door. Then he, too, was out of the camera frame. After a few minutes, he returned to show his two friends the bottle that had just been delivered. Soon, another of the men went toward the door, presumably to meet whoever had paid them a visit. Then we saw both men return and show the bottle to their guest.
A few moments later, my wife and son returned to the car.
She said Phil and Helmut (one of the boys had guessed "Phil" correctly) were appreciative of the gift (and I was correct about their fondness for gin!). They couldn't have been nicer and encouraged us to stop next time for a drink. Yes, they'd seen our car and had heard the greeting of the horn. And while they appreciated our concern over their absence in the spring, they had just been away on vacation.
As we started the car and continued along the beach to dinner, my wife and I were happy that a throwaway line about delivering a bottle of gin to our Florida friends had yielded a lesson to show a little gumption and take some initiative. After all, you never know when you could become a comforting constant for somebody else.
Last week in Florida the apartment was dark. But we're not worried. I beeped anyway.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment by clicking here.
04/06/11 Race policies should be altered to reflect new demographic reality
11/10/10 Delaware's independent, but short-lived, voice
11/03/10 Papers should leave endorsing to others
10/21/10 Media help to hype perception of bullying
09/23/10 Officer down, killer hyped up
08/04/10 Documents highlight Pakistan's shortcomings as a U.S. ally
07/06/10 On taking back Sept. 11
06/29/10 Name elite corps to develop energy independence?
04/21/10 New account reinforces a serviceman's valor
03/11/10 Medical profession must police itself better
02/18/10 One-trick athletes
02/09/10 Active, retired law officers should be able to carry guns on planes to help stop terrorists
02/04/10 How to bring tech up to speed
01/28/10 Campaign donations must be fully and immediately disclosed online
01/07/10 The flying emperor still has no clothes, and no one is willing to say so
12/24/09 A law to mandate college football playoffs?
12/17/09 Cheney's abuse of freedom of speech
11/26/09 The true cost of freedom from anxiety
10/27/09 If GOP wants to win in 2012, it must reshape its primary process
10/08/09 It's time to get smarter on extended school day
09/03/09 What a summer of eulogizing flawed public figures reveals about society
08/12/09 It's time for cyclists and motorists to reconcile
08/05/09 Faces have changed, but vitriol remains
06/25/09 Fair comment or foul? Warm up the Muzzle Meter
06/08/09 Believability is key in crime-hoax villains
05/14/09 Did Hollywood inspire the meltdown men?
04/20/09 Let's give killers their due: Anonymity
03/12/09 Uninsured who can't afford medical care lose a lot more
02/06/09 My debate with Musharraf on hunt for bin Laden
01/29/09 Torture must remain an option
01/15/09 Making a case for suing Madoff
12/22/08 A difficult but rational chat about plans
12/17/08 Facebook epidemic: More than 120 million have joined, many too old for this nonsense
12/01/08 The high price of downsizing the news biz
11/14/08 Prescience on greed, arrogance of a system
09/29/08 Closer look at party lines
08/26/08 Obama's pick creates GOP opportunity
08/21/08 Fishing with the Angry Everyman
07/31/08 The perils of e-mail: Ponder, then click
05/22/08 Two very different sides of the Internet
02/12/08 Sublimely ridiculous suits
11/28/08 Cell phones cut out secondary circle of kinship
09/26/07 What do we owe those who have died in Iraq?
08/30/07 A Navy SEAL's gut-wrenching tale of survival
07/30/07 First it was a faux pas, now it's a new word
© 2008, The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services