I was sitting in a quiet corner at the very same McDonald’s out on Macon Road that I used to dash over to during my tenure as a student at Columbus High. Gosh, that was such a long-ago yesterday. I could have gone to the library, which is also on Macon Road, but for all its finery, I don’t like the new library as much as I did the old W.C. Bradley. Ease of access was better at the old Bradley. At the new library you have to hike half-a-mile to reach its ostentatious rotunda. (Just realized that ostentatious sounds a lot like Osteen, and there’s poetry embedded in that, did you notice?)
So there I was, sitting by my lonesome, working, when all of a sudden someone grabbed me around my neck and declared, “I want to kiss you.”
It wasn’t anyone I knew.
Just a wiry sprite that seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“How old are you Ricardo?” I quickly scanned the room looking for any sign of a parent.
“I’m four,” he said, holding up the appropriate number of fingers in validation.
He nuzzled up next to me.
“Whad chew doin’?”
He reached for my camera.
“You wanna take a picture?” I asked.
“Yea,” he replied.
“Okay,” I said, “Smile big.”
It was keeping his eyes open he seemed to struggle with.
We took, oh, about a dozen photos, eight of them with Ricardo’s eyes shut.
Ricardo climbed into the seat beside me — the better to see the computer with.
He told me he has four siblings. His grandmother was sitting down at the other end of the dining area. She and some other church ladies were having a meal together. They all appeared perfectly comfortable with Ricardo’s random disappearances.
He was like the hug fairy — lurking about the fast food joint, seeking out that one individual in need of an embrace.
Wouldn’t it seem that if a 4-year old can figure all that out, we ought to be doing the same? Seeking to bring some small measure of happiness and delight to the people around us — whether we know them or not.