After handing in my book this morning, I planned on spending the rest of the day relaxing. But something nice just happened, and I have to blog about it.
So Caleb and I might as well open a bank, because we’re constantly lending people money. We must both be walking around with “charitable loan givers” written in invisible ink on our foreheads, the words only visible to the desperate.
One such man was Tony, our next door neighbor. Tony, who sometimes gets in screaming matches with the Mafioso across the street. Tony, who chain smokes cigarettes, and has a very cute cat.
In the winter, Tony approached Caleb as he descended the steps of our brownstone with Franke. “I’m really sorry to ask, but can I borrow $20 from you?” he asked. “I promise, I’ll pay you back.”
"You’re never seeing that money again," I told Caleb.
Very soon after, we forgot about it.
Today, our doorbell rang. I was settling into a ham sandwich. I had just changed into my pajama pants. “Hey,” said Tony when I came to the entrance. He was standing with one foot holding the door open. In his right hand, he held a lit cigarette. In his left, a $20 bill.
"I borrowed this money from your husband a while ago," Tony said. "And the other day, I saw him, and I was like, man, I forgot to pay him back! To be honest, I crossed the street to avoid him, I felt so bad."
"It’s really not a big deal!" I said. I figured the money was a kind of insurance. Above Tony lives his sister and brother-in-law, Fran and Frank, who are the mayors of our block. What harm could come to us if we are generous to them? I specifically think of a story someone once told me, about how the entire neighborhood in Carroll Gardens got together one time to get back someone’s stolen bike.
"Nah, I feel bad," said Tony. "I was in the hospital for a while with clots in my bladder, and the medication must have made me forget or whatever."
"Thank you so much," I said to him. "It’s really nice of you to pay us back."
"What’s your name?" he said.
"Brie," I told him.
"Nice to meet you," he said, switching the cigarette to his left hand before holding out his right palm.
"How’s Franke?" he asked. Because everyone on our block knows Franke by name, she causes that big of a fucking racket.
"She’s good," I said. Franke was barking her head off from behind our door, right in the background.
"Alright then," he said. "See you around."
"I feel guilty," Caleb said when I told him the story a few minutes later. Caleb and I are both total suckers. We lend people money, and then we feel bad taking it back. This is why I’ve recently put a moratorium on my charitable loan bank. I need that shit for manicures.
The lesson here is: being a Good Samaritan is never bad. When I walked Franke again, Tony was out with a group on the stoop a few doors down. “Hey Brie,” he said. “Hey everyone,” I said. And the whole lot of those old Italians smiled back.