“You don’t know what a Knish is?”
I did not. just coming out of a museum and not willing to pay the high prices of Museum food, we thought the food carts were a bit more financially appetizing. But I didn’t know what a Knish was.
And the man who had just bought one noticed.
He was short, about 60, and clearly just wanted to talk.
“A knish is like a bread pocket of potatoes. It’s a very New York thing because of the Jews here.” Apparently he knew the history of the truck’s entire menu.
He said he was jewish and grew up around the city. Then began his life story. He won a scholarship to Cambridge University, where he studied English and graduated before he was 21. Afterwards, he became a poet and became a professor. He noted the dozens of books he had published.
“My name is David Shapiro.” At the time, his name sounded familiar, but we couldn’t place it.
Incidentally, my friend and I were both attending Cambridge (I for only two terms).
“Really? Ok well there’s a tree by Clare College – which college are you guys at? Ah ok – well there’s a tree by Clare College that is mine.”
“I planted it. It’s now big, but it’s mine.”
My friend, more talkative than I, still struggled to get a few words in. When she did, they were questions. We learned he wrote art and culture critiques for the New York Times.
He abruptly said ‘bye’ and told us he had to go meet an Israeli poet in the museum to talk politics. He left as we were still wide-eyed.
He just wanted to talk, and perhaps giving his life story to two strangers on the street was warranted.