Friday, October 17, 2008

I thought it very considerate when the melancholy friend of my father's uncle arrived with a tall narrow cardboard box full of fruit — especially since he had gone to the trouble of drawing a map on the box indicating the colors and degree of ripeness of the varieties inside. The box was about three feet by five feet, and less than a foot deep. I thought it should be placed flat on its back, but our friend said politely in an Armenian accent that it must remain upright.

Only then, because I could barely hear him, did I realize we were in a noisy mall. Glancing at the box again, I saw that his nice map had been reduced to a mish-mash of curved arrows with conspicuous black points — kind of an imploding diagram.

With some effort, I finally found us an empty place to sit. But at the last second, someone stepped in and removed the chairs. And so we crouched near a brick wall. Our friend fell silent. I felt responsible. We looked at each other for a long time, then he apologized and said he thought he should go. I said, "What a shame. We hardly ever see each other." Trying to be nice, he blamed it on the noise. "You're right," I said. "We shouldn't have to shout." Immediately the place became quiet. He relaxed, and much to my relief we began to talk in earnest. I stood up and raised a baton: of its own accord, it started following the sound of his voice.

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