Friday Night I popped into a West Philly coffee house to take in a PPL The Unity performance. I sat in a chair by the window. From there I watched a gentleman wheel an oversized grill, equipped with a smoke chimney down a ramp from the back of his pickup. He parked it in the street; erected a pop-up tent in front and table underneath. Then he aligned an assortment of condiments on the table. Once there was a steady plume of smoke from the grill, people arrived.
Whenever I looked over at the scene I met the gaze of a lingering customer. And, when my girlfriend excused herself to take a phone call, the same customer appeared before me with a styrofoam container.
“Er, I noticed you looking from the window…thought maybe you’d like this.”
I accepted the offering with open hands.
“Wow, incredibly sweet of you. Thank you.”
I opened the container. On top was a thick piece of toast; underneath big chunks of charred chicken. The skin was crispy and smothered in a yellow sauce that smelled like Jamaican jerk seasoning.
“Ummm…” I said, nose hovering over the opened container. “I was wondering what it smelled like out there.”
The man exhaled and extended his hand.
“My name is Rich. I told the grill man I wanted to buy you chicken. He asked what your palette is. I said I had no idea as it’s for that beautiful girl in the window who I never met.”
I pulled some meat from the bone dipping it in the sauce.
“Well, let’s see how he did.”
“Oh good, you’re not a vegetarian or vegan. That would have been embarrassing.”
“It’s delicious, here try some.” I pushed the container towards the empty chair. “Tell the grill man my palette is happy.”
Rich sat down and grabbed a piece of chicken.
“I like your approach, this stuff is better to pull apart then bite into like a wing. You gotta see this guy with his mallet,“ Rich said, making exaggerated motions with his right hand. “He chops the whole chicken apart in three whacks.”
I chuckled. After some small talk he asked for my number to take me out for coffee. I delicately declined but expressed my gratitude for the chicken and friendly conversation.
A little while later Rich left saying,
“I am so happy I worked up the nerve to do this. You’re really a good sport. This is something I’ll never forget.”
“Nor I. First time a man brought me curb side chicken”
We both laughed. I felt refreshed by his mere presence, approach and authenticity. I wished Rich luck on his pending poker game, assuring him Karma was on his side.
* * *
Saturday night I ate at my bro’s restaurant. Mid-way through the meal one of his chef friends sat next to me. In the middle of our conversation a plate of fried chicken passed between us. I smiled.
“Nothing, just remembering something endearing that happened last night.”
I recounted my puppy in the window tale.
“ How chivalrous. It’s funny too because just the other day I was discussing with coworkers when chivalry died.”
“Oh yes, the decline of chivalry and the surplus of lameness…I’ve been studying and experiencing this one for a while. Partially, technology is to blame.”
He shook his head in agreement.
“It’s technology and yoga pants.”
“Girls walk around in those pants, leaves nothing to our imagination. I can see every curvature in their baby making units.“
Downward Facing Dog,
A Warrior Princess