Apr 302012

I’ve been wanting to share this story for awhile, but I haven’t had a reason. Then I realized that there was no reason for it to have happened in the first place, so why should I need a reason to tell it now? Rather, if I tell it randomly, you, the reader, will get to experience just how random it was when it happened. And, before you ask, this really did happen just as described below. I have witnesses, and I can put you in touch with them.

It wasn’t on this corner, but it could have been.

I went to Boston in 1993 or 1994 to see Sting at the Great Woods Amphitheater. Among those with me were my friend Jason, who would eventually be my best man, and Chris Provenzano, with whom I would eventually write Get Low. I can’t remember if we went to Boston before or after the concert, but I know we spent the day there.

I was standing on a street corner waiting from my friends to come out of a record store, Fenway Park in the distance, when I noticed a woman crossing to the corner across from me. She wore a light blue sweater and dark blue pleated skirt. Her hair was black streaked with grey, and it was long and a little matted. Shaped roughly like a triangle, she carried a tote bag in each hand, and both¬†almost brushed the ground. As she reached the corner opposite us, she crossed the street headed straight toward me. That’s when I noticed that she had walleyes, and no chin, but where one should have been she had a thin, square patch of hair.

She waddled straight up to me and said, in a smoker’s voice, “Are you in this society?”

I suddenly felt like I was facing the Sphinx. The consequences of getting this wrong seemed dire. I turned to look for my friends, who had emerged and looked as confused as I was. Chris’s face is etched into memory- his expression said “What the hell is she talking about?” That’s what all of us were thinking, myself included, but none of us had any idea. There¬†she stood, waiting for an answer. Rather than wanting to give her an honest answer, I wanted to give her the answer that would make her go away. What decided me was the fact that the odds seemed stacked against her being in this society.

“No?” I answered hopefully.

She waddled off, never to be heard from again, and we went about our day with none of us having any idea, then or since, what had just happened.

That’s the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me.