The Crying One
by Marc Friedlander




I was out in front of the Met today, playing guitar - as I've been doing for many years - but it was my first weekend out there. Spring had finally arrived, after a long, cold, miserable winter. I started early, and when I arrived at the steps of the museum there weren't many people around yet - they were scattered here and there. I usually like to get right into it regardless of how many people are around - as long as there is SOMEBODY - so I set up and started playing. The nearest people to me were two young women sitting on the steps in front of me. They looked to be in their late teens or early twenties. I was quite close to these two, and in the middle of the first piece I noticed something: one of them was sobbing. She wasn't just teary and sniffly, she was weeping. Tears were streaming down her face in abundance as she sobbed. Her friend tried to console her and stroked her hair, but the crying one continued in her lachrymose woe, her tears unabated.

Hummph, I thought. Who needs this depression on the first real Spring Sunday of the year? I continued playing pieces and hoped that the crying one would snap out of it, or the two of them would take their sorrows elsewhere, but she just continued, weeping unconsolably. I began to grow concerned about her - what could possibly have lead her to this state of agony?

Although the problem could have been quite serious, I felt rather sure that this was an injury of the heart, and I don't mean the cardiovascular kind. This girl was clearly broken hearted and crying her eyes out about it.

Despite the fact that it was none of my business, I decided to have a word with the dejected lass. I put down the guitar and approached the pair.

Excuse me, I said - I don't mean to intrude but I want to tell you something.

They both looked up at me.

I said to the crying one: I want to tell you that whatever it is, it's not that bad. Look at you - you're a beautiful young girl with your whole life ahead of you. Put this behind you - it's not worth it. Look at the gorgeous day we're having - enjoy it! Listen to the music. Somebody hurt you very badly - well, to HELL with them! Look at me.

I took off my hat and sunglasses, and continued.

Tomorrow I'll be 63.

Wow, she said.

I can tell you from experience that whatever you're feeling right now - it's temporary. Life is hard sometimes. I've suffered loss, I've had my share of pain, and I think I know what you are feeling. I got over it. I have a wife who loves me and that's all that's important to me now. You have everything to look forward to. You're going to have a wonderful life.

Here she smiled at me for a moment.

I went on: Shake it off and have a good day. Now I'm going back to playing.

Her tears - if not altogether banished, were not quite as copious as they had been. They stayed a little longer and then walked off.


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