“Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named ‘Padrino’ and ‘Pomodoro’ and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.” — David Brooks, NYT columnist
This account by David Brooks reminded me of an awkward encounter I had some years ago with, of all people, David Brooks himself. Fortunately, I made a contemporaneous record of it in my journal, and so can reproduce my experience here with perfect accuracy.
My Afternoon with David Brooks
As agreed, I met David outside his office shortly before three o’clock. Unfortunately, I thoughtlessly chose to drive the Dodge Ram truck, rather than a vehicle more recognizable to him as a personal conveyance. His discomfort was palpable as I got out and showed him how to place his foot on the running board and negotiate his entry into the taller-than-average vehicle. Once inside, I tuned the radio to NPR, hoping that would calm him and take his mind off the atypically high passenger vantage point he now occupied.
When we arrived at our destination, I could tell that David was having second thoughts. The parking lot contained more trucks than Priuses, and it was obvious that he was having a real fish-out-of-water moment. But, to his credit — intrepid journalists, I salute you! — he overcame his fear of the unknown and, with considerable coaxing and assurance from me, got out and walked warily into the lobby.
I knew David had never visited an indoor shooting range, but I guess I expected (foolishly, in retrospect) that he at least knew that they were places where guns were likely to be on display. His reaction upon seeing the low glass case full of rental handguns immediately convinced me that I was mistaken.
“David,” I said, “you’re wearing an awfully nice suit, and the floor really isn’t that clean. Come on, let’s stand up.” It took two of us to uncurl him from a fetal position and get him upright, and it occurred to me that we were never going to get as far as the range itself.
I quickly asked him if he wanted to go somewhere else and he anxiously nodded yes and we caught the new Mapplethorpe exhibit at MOMA.