24 Mar

As I was walking west on 46th Street I realized I was one of three lined up and thus: Me, a stranger, and Dan Rather, who by the way is 6’17” tall. Who knew?

The stranger in the middle and I were both stealing glances at Dan Rather. I was thinking, “This is the man who broke the Kennedy Assassination for heaven’s sake. An eyewitness to much of the history of the second half of the 20th Century is currently to my right.” I don’t know what the stranger was thinking, but he was clearly as fascinated as I.

We reached Sixth Avenue. Mr. Rather stepped into the street and hailed a cab. One stopped immediately. Apparently saddened that his brush with stardom was about to end, the stranger put all pretense aside and was openly gawking now, poised to approach Mr. Rather for an autograph or a piece of his mind. Then, out of nowhere, a bicyclist came whizzing between the three of us like a magic bullet, clipped me in the shoulder and crashed into the otherwise engaged stranger. They both fell onto the street, cursing and screaming in anger and in pain. There was blood. It was awful. I’ll never forget where I was and what I was doing when it happened.

Dan Rather paused and looked at the mighty fighting fallen entangled in one another’s limbs and spokes and then looked to me as if to see if I was alright, the rather innocent vision in pink. And in that instant I saw a knowing look in his eyes, that he understood he was at the root of the situation but that the entire debacle was out of his hands. Reporters do not intervene. History rights itself. So he entered a cab that headed north so quickly it seemed hell-bent for Parkland. The carnage disappeared in the choking fumes of the taxi’s exhaust.

The rest of the way home, I wondered if he thought about it. I wondered if he took out his reporter’s pad and jotted the incident down. I wondered if I figured into his notes: “A polite, well-appointed man managed to stay above the fracas. Courage.”


5 Responses to “Rather.”

  1. Dugutigui March 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    Excellent article and very interesting reflection: “he was at the root of the situation but that the entire debacle was out of his hands”. It should be a peculiar state of mind in which things start to happen without our control and little or nothing we can do to straighten them … a terrible feeling of helplessness, I guess.

    A wonderful description of trivial facts and their profound psychological content.

    • NC Coot March 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

      I’m lucky to have such an insightful reader, D.

      • Dugutigui March 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

        My pleasure.

  2. transparentguy March 24, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Really insightful and funny piece.

    • NC Coot March 24, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

      Thanks, TPG!

      I just started reading your blog, and now your compliment has even more heft.

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