Thursday, April 21, 2005

I followed the lope of Alan Alda's feet playing Shelly in "Glengarry Glen Ross." They'd scrape and arc around the office floor, really the stage floor, and I wondered if he was thinking of hitting marks and to what degree those were his pigeon toes or Shelly's. And that an actor doesn't think about his feet if he's any good, and that consequently that's why we should think of them.

This morning on the way to work, on my way into the Park, a young, ill-shaven man approached me. He looked fine, no crazy in the eyes or nothing. But the deliberate way he appealed, I figured I was in for something. He clutched an uneven sheaf of paper, what appeared to be Web page printouts.

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure," I said, not stopping but looking right at him, letting him know I'm not dismissive.

"How far away is Ground Zero?"

It was such a strange question on 105th Street. And not "Where is Ground Zero?" mind you. How far away. For a moment I wondered if he meant it figuratively, or if he was taking some odd poll and comparing the different wordings of the responses in the pursuit of some linguistic or sociological edification,.

"It's all the way downtown," I responded, jerking my thumb backwards over my shoulder. He nodded briefly, made the faintest grunt of acknowledgment, and moved on. Apparently satisfied.