The Sparrow Whisperer

He wore baggy shorts and a skin tight, white undershirt. He sported several frightening tattoos on every inch of exposed skin. He wore glasses, they were as thick as the bottom of old-fashioned Coke bottles and yes, he was muttering, like so many New Yorkers found deep in meaningful conversations with themselves or perhaps with the other within.

I stood a step behind him, waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street, but the traffic was gridlocked and when the traffic is gridlocked and pedestrians can’t cross the street with ease, they turn to look at each other and exchange glances in unspoken commiseration before collectively deciding to walk between the gaps in the cars to reach the other side.

I exchanged just such a meaningful glance with this tattooed man in front of me as he turned around and, as he did, I caught a glimpse of his outstretched arm and extended thumb. The man wasn’t alone.

I stared at his traveling companion and then at him as an involuntary smile formed at my lips and threatened to spread across the boundaries of my face. But New Yorkers don’t smile. They are focused. Smiles detract from focus. There were no smiles forthcoming from the man with the interesting travel companion.

He faced forward again, ready to cross the street in long strides, never taking his eyes off his outstretched arm and thumb. I stayed right behind him. My destination happened to be in the same direction. The man was a head-turner alright! Every vendor, every walker, every shopkeeper looked up at him and his passenger and tried their best not to smile.

He was whispering and carrying out an intimate conversation with an audience of one; a deep understanding exchanged through frequent nods and head bobs with an audience that appeared more captivated than captive in any way.

There have been books written about horse whisperers and dog whisperers, what I witnessed this day was my very first sparrow whisperer.

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