When Confronted With Temptation, Joanie Asks For More

Manhatten 2013“Welcome to the smoking section”, I said to the woman eyeing the open seat on the park bench next to us.  She smiled, professed to loving the smell of a good cigar, and introduced herself as Joanie. 

Part of our annual trip to the City is a cigar from De La Concha and an hour of intense people watching at the entrance to Central Park a few blocks away.  People watching.  The only person we talk with is whoever I ask to take our annual picture with my Blackberry.  Everything was going according to plan for the first 30 minutes.  Even the light rain added to, not diminished from, our ritual.  No lightening.  No thunder.  The branches of the nearby trees provided a bit of cover. 


Joanie was totally oblivious of the rain.  She was on a mission to talk with as many people as possible.  A displaced New Yorker now living in the northwest, she was visiting the city of her birth to remember her past and to share EVERY moment.  We were scheduled to meet my brother at Barney’s cufflink department; otherwise we might still be on that bench talking with her. 

Within the hour or so that we did talk we learned where and how Joanie met her late, first husband (pilot / Jones Beach), her uber-quiet current spouse (Norwegian scientist), and some of her travel exploits. We heard about childhood friends and ocean-front homes.  There were stories of grandchildren (3) and horses (current a quarter horse).  

And when at some point we failed to be enough of an audience, she also engaged the photographer from South Africa and the two guys from Colorado sitting close by. 

Like everyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Joanie, we immediately became her closest friends and confidants.  It was an awesome responsibility and we accepted gladly knowing in advance that our intense relationship was temporary in nature.  We knew that, but I’m not sure Joanie does. 

Early in our conversation, while talking about her homes, Joanie invited us to come and visit.  I’m absolutely positive that she was serious.  We aren’t booking a flight to Seattle anytime soon.  And though Joanie has my card, I don’t expect an email or a call.  As Van Morrison sang, “If you never hear from him, that just means he didn’t call”.  And it would be a shame to never hear from Joanie.  But I also wouldn’t be shocked if I got a call, five years from now, from a wandering Joanie sitting in a restaurant in downtown Cleveland asking if I would be available for lunch. 

I hope one day to get that call.  And yes, I’ll pick up the tab and listen to all of the stories of her latest adventures.