Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Tender Touch In The Nekkid City

(From today's Times and News-Star)

One of my many lowly paid correspondents is Lil’ Tone, valuable because he is well-traveled, with an eye for the unusual and an ear for the peculiar.   

We are all about unusual and peculiar. It’s our bread and butter, our burger and fries, our Haggard and Jones.

He has reported from Yankee Stadium on A-Rod’s 600th homer – “100 percent prima donna,” reported Lil’ Tone, who is nonetheless a fan of the Bronx Bombers – but he is just as apt to record show-stopping events at the Love’s in Minden. I would recount here, except it can only be appreciated audibly.

“That little encounter makes an episode of ‘Swamp People’ look like “Downton Abby,’” he said. “Only in Louisiana.”

A man of the people, Lil’ Tone is. 

But what I wanted to tell you about today was yet another trip he took to The Big Apple this very summer. North Louisiana born and bred, Lil’ Tone married above his raising and latched onto a big-city Tallulah girl who knows the ins and outs of life in the passing lane. If she doesn’t know where it’s at in New York City, it’s not worth going to.

I would love to make this trip someday with Mr. and Mrs. Lil’ Tone, sort of be the groomed Chihuahua in their Prada tote. From their Gotham Central base around West 57th Street, they walked through Central Park daily for the usual “language salad.” Lingered at the Museum of Modern Art and a photo exhibit at the Guggenheim. Dined at Gramercy Tavern and also at an Italian place of food and fun in the West Village. Saw Phillip Seymour Hoffman in “Death of a Salesman.”


But no matter how big the town, it’s still made up of individual people, one at a time. In the middle of the masses are the moments, played out in different venues the world over, familiar reminders that the intimate world will forever turn one touch at a time.

“Monday night we went to this restaurant where I ordered a hamburger,” Lil’ said. “Instead of bacon, it had a piece of pork belly topside. No A-1 in sight but still pretty dang good.

“Then last night we went to Carnegie Hall to hear a pianist named Lang Lang. Yes, I certainly could make a lot of jokes about his name but they would all be lame lame. Suffice it to say that my wife and her piano buds have been hopping on one foot about this concert. The rest of her posse heard it over the internet while we we were rockin' the house inside ‘The Hall.’ It really was pretty spectacular and my betrothed got teary-eyed more than once during the concert. He played two encores and folks in the joint were quite festive.

“But in the middle of all that, a little episode that caught our eye right near us was this little girl who was about 7 or 8. Every so often, she would put her arm behind her seat and hold the hand for a while of this little old hunched over lady sitting behind her. We supposed it was her grandmother or even great-grandmother. She would hold her hand for a while and then take it back. It seemed to be an effort for the little old lady to reach up and hold that little girl's hand, but she did it quietly and willingly each time. Small thing in the middle of the Naked City but a reminder of many things for me.”