Sunday, April 18, 2010


Sitting in Penn Station, waiting to board my NJ Transit train to Trenton, I was surprised to hear someone singing our national anthem. When I looked to the source, and saw it was a homeless lady on crack, I became incensed (not like the offering, and not that she was offering...).
Didn't she know it was Sefira!!??? AND kol isha!! Had she no respect at all for the Jewish faith???
I'm teasing, of course. Her main priorities were singing off key and avoiding the police who had been following her and kicking her out of each waiting area.
Many of the waiting passengers had their ear out, to listen of course to how she would hit the high note of: "Free-e-eeee-eeee". Based on the earlier part of her performance, though, nobody held out high expectations. Of course it was awful, and as I tried to block out the hideous sound, I couldn't help but give praise to her bravery and lack of stage fright.
Later she walked among the aisles of seats, asking people for money. She came to me, and asked, "Well, Romeo?"
Romeo. Why, she hardly even knew me. This older, African American woman didn't care about my funny wardrobe, or my religion. The bond she surely must have felt between us, which was perhaps amplified by her cocaine (I'm sure it was medicinal...), caused her to seek me out and call me by the name of perhaps the most famous lover in literature. I was flattered, and taken aback. I certainly must have blushed. Romeo. Was she my Juliet? Who can really know what G-d intends for us?
As I was thinking these thoughts, and wondering if I should at least invite her to come visit my grandparents with me (why not take advantage of a trip I was already making? It would only be some time later when she would want to meet my family, and I hers...), something happened, and it felt like my heart was plunged into a bucket of liquid nitrogen.
She passed me, and asked the man two seats over, "How 'bout you, Romeo?"
And just like that, the mysterious fog of romance and intrigue was swept away from my eyes, and I once again saw this crazy crackhead for who she truly was.

She was taken away by a policeman in the middle of her next musical venture: "If you're happy and you know it..."

As the real Romeo put it so nicely, "Call me but love....henceforth I never will be Romeo."