I saw him carrying an armful of packages. They were giftwrapped, stacked like a miniature pyramid.
He was trying to open the door with his foot.
“Hold on,” I said. “Let me get the door for you.”
He stepped backward and thanked me.
Then he slipped on wet tile. Thankfully, he did not fall. He caught himself by using me for balance, but dropped all his packages in the process. The gifts survived without sustaining any major injuries. And so did he.
That’s when I realized I knew this man.
We used to go to church together. We sang in the Baptist choir, once upon a time. He was a tenor. I sang bass.
Tenors and basses are vicious enemies from birth. The two groups have a longstanding feud. This dates back to the Revolutionary War, when American Colonies fought for independence against Great Britain, and also against Britain’s bloodthirsty allies, the Three Tenors.
Our choir was god-awful. During our choir practices, we basses would blame the elderly
tenor section for our less than optimal sound. Things often got ugly.
“Hey!” one of the basses would yell. “Adjust your hearing aids, old farts! You’re on the wrong page!”
“Why don’t you kiss my big, hairy treble clef!” a tenor would holler.
“You first, Grandpa Walton!”
“Aw, your mother’s Episcopalian!”
And a brawl would break out. The altos would be forced to break up the fight with fire hoses and horsewhips.
Being a Baptist can be fun.
Anyway, I helped him carry his gifts to his car, even though we are sworn enemies.
I learned a little about him, too. He is seventy-four. He’s in very good shape, he still sings in the choir. These gifts are for his granddaughter.
The girl is twelve. Her parents got divorced last year. She’s been caught in the horrible crossfire that accompanies…