I run to the bank once a week to deposit Vital Speeches subscription checks. I literally "run" to the bank, as I run all my local errands, often with a stack of envelopes in my hands, or a falafel under my arm. (It's my ambition to become a Chicago eccentric; but it's a big town full of them and I have a ways to go.)
When I showed up at the branch Monday in shorts, the teller asked me what's my favorite sport. (The tellers are obviously trained to make conversation, at least with frequent visitors like me. The way it feels, they seem to do it partly for their own amusement. They ask about my business, they ask whether I am a Cub fan or a White Sox fan, they ask how my weekend was in a way that actually compels me to give them a detail or two. On Monday, the guy also asked me if I "had a chance to march on Saturday.")
Anyway, I told the teller my favorite sport was tennis. He somewhat shyly said he'd figured as much, because I sort of looked like a tennis player. To be polite, I asked him his favorite sport. "Well, I like ping pong," he said with a smiling shrug that I assumed acknowledged that he is Asian.
He told me he plays at this ping pong place in the neighborhood where you can rent a table and paddles by the hour. Oh yes, I'd heard of that place, I told him.
As he ran the checks through the machine and I picked a lollypop out of the basket for Scout, I asked him if everybody there is a pro, or if just decent players would feel at home there. He assured me they would.
"I should take my daughter there," I said.
"Or you and I could go," he suggested.
He might as well have asked me to tell him about the night my mother died. He might as well have smashed the glass between us with a hammer.
I mumbled something about probably not being good enough to play against hm.
"Oh, you'll be fine," he said, and I as I left, I allowed that maybe someday he and I could indeed go and play ping pong together.
And I woke up yesterday morning weighing, "Maybe I should go play ping pong with that bank teller," against what I wrote here yesterday: "I've got no time for flakes. Hell, these days, I barely have time for mensches!"
All the lonely people. Where do they all come from?