Thursday, March 19, 2009
While riding downtown on the subway yesterday, a mother and her young son sat across from me. It was mid afternoon, the subway car half empty and quiet. The little boy sat in an oversized blue ski parka, the hood pulled over his head. The front snaps of the parka were closed and covered his mouth and nose, while two chocolate eyes peered from under the hood. The mother unwrapped a red lollipop and placed it in the boy's unyielding right hand. The boy continued looking straight ahead, refusing to taste the lollipop. He held it in a stubborn fist at chest level, his elbow bent at a right angle as if holding a pitchfork. The mother admonished him to lick the lollipop, then unsnapped his hood and guided it into his mouth. The boy's lips refused at first: it could have been made of liver. Slowly, as the train neared midtown, the boy warmed to the idea. He began twirling the lollipop around in his mouth, releasing more sweetness once reassured that it wasn't poison.