You never know who you'll run into in a little town like Middletown, what with Wesleyan and all right here. So I got me two slices of sausage, pepper, onion, mushroom, and tomato pizza at the best pizzeria in town, Sammy's on College and Broad, right next to Jule Crawford's law office. And I headed down in Susie's Prius to Harbor Park to sit by the river and eat my 3 o'clock lazy afternoon lunch. But Hurricane Irene's what happens when you're trying to plan your life, and the flood stage closed the whole park down, so I headed up to Wesleyan to chew my slices.
In the CFA (Center for the Arts) big open courtyard they were setting up 100 tables of 8 for the big freshman class "Welcome to Wes" dinner. And I saw a staff member wearing a really cool red tee shirt with a spread-out "W" Wesleyan logo all over her chest. But, she told me, these are not for sale to the general public since it was just a special run for the B&G (Building and Grounds) Department.
So, hard-core skeptic that I am, even now, when people say I'm lookin' a bit like Steven Spielberg (although with a lot more hair but a lot less money), or The Dude, Jeff Bridges (but with a lot less good blonde looks and all), or some old Hippie from the 60's, I finished my slices and sauntered on over to Usdan Center to check out this claim that these really cool red Wesleyan tee-shirts with the up-to-date spread-out "W" are not available to anyone who's got fifteen bucks to spring from his pocket to lawfully lift one from the hands of him who made 'em for the B&G guys and gals.
And after confirming that the new shirts are not available to anyone 'cept the B&G, for ANY price, I start checkin' out the table with the cool "Kiss" (mfg.) colored sun glasses. And I like this pair that's got deep blood-red "Hand Polished Frame" model number "KISS 866-3 NP TAIWAN" frames with printed words all over the frames that looks like excerpts from newspapers about economic matters. The older man who looked like the store manager told me they were only five dollars, no sales tax, which seemed like a pretty good deal to me, so I turned to tell the guy to my left what a good deal these shades he's also lookin' at are, but I almost missed the guy because although I'm only 5-10 which isn't really TALL in our society, I'm a giant compared to the older guy (than me) standing next to me and below me, since he's so short and all.
This guy has a green hat on, no logo, rounded top down to the bill, not one of those in-your-face N-Y logo hats that I see some of the deep tan guys wearin' in the Mezzo Grille patio and the disco. And the short man also is wearing a dark green short-sleeved shirt, dark green jeans, and now he's got the shades he must have worn into the store, as if he wanted to anonymize who he was and still is, at least to older men and women of my generation. And this man has thin dark eyebrows and skin in the area of his eyebrows and upper nose and forehead which looks like it's pulled tight a bit but I'm not really sure what was going on with that skin.
And I turned to him and asked him, "Paul Simon, what are you doin' here in Middletown?" And he doesn't skip a beat to tell me that his son is a freshman at Wesleyan. "It's a great school, I graduated in 1971, came back after law school and retired in March to write and dance. By the way, Paul, there's a great little club down on Court Street, downtown, which has an outdoor patio area with a raised stage and I'm sure they'd love to have you perform down there." And he just looked at me and seemed to wonder who I was. Maybe it was the fact that I treated him just like any other person I run into, no matter how "high" or "low" their station in life takes them to.
And then I left Paul and his girlfriend and his son behind after paying for my cool new blood-red sunglasses.
Just a tiny encounter with a historical figure in American pop culture. Right here in Middletown. I was inspired enough by this meeting that I played Paul Simon's "Graceland" album all afternoon in the Prius on my I-pod until I arrived at the Mezzo Grille patio last night at 10 p.m. to begin the Bob "CAL" (tee shirt logo) 10 p.m. to closing time at 12:30 p.m. dance show at the Mezzo patio. And that two-and-a-half hours of dancing with abandon was even more magical, in fact far more magical, than my chance encounter with an aging pop music star, even one as talented as Paul Simon.
It's all good. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.