Many years ago a friend told me he saw this guy in New York dressed in a top hat and tails, head-to-toe in the color red; even his walking stick was red. My friend assumed the man was a pimp and invited him to have a burger with him at French Roast. And the man did just that.
Not long ago, when I first started living in downtown Jersey City I began to see a man who just had to be this same character. He was an older African-American gentleman, always dressed in one color, head-to-toe. Once I was walking up the stairs from the PATH train behind him and saw that even his socks were the same azure shade as everything else on his body.
"What a dandy!" I thought. I wanted to know more about him and remembered that my friend had assumed he was a pimp. But there was something very sweet and friendly about this man that didn't fit at all with a "pimpish" attitude.
His color sense was extraordinary. He was resplendent in yellow, vibrant in tangerine, breathtaking in sky blue - and never did he omit the hat nor the walking stick.
One afternoon I was walking down Grove Street with my kids, when I spied the Dandy again. I said hello to him, as I had begun to do, but this time I thought, "I've got to talk to this guy once and for all."
I mustered up the courage, because he is a teeny bit daunting in his splendor, and said, "Excuse me, sir....but I've seen you around and always admired your excellent sense of style. I was wondering...what is it that you do? Are you rock star? A jazz musician? Or just a fanciful fellow?"
He looked at me, eyes twinkling, and replied: "Ahhhh, I am the last one, I think..."
I took this opportunity to praise his color sense and pointed out that I too, am not shy with colors (I happened to be wearing my own technicolor dreamcoat). Then he continued the conversation - but completely in metaphor. Nothing he said had any relevance to the subject I had broached and I was suddenly held rapt trying to decipher his meaning. The metaphorical speech was all about babies, but more specifically about birthing babies. Given my interest in childbirth education I stood listening attentively.
"It's like the baby being born....it's gotta get OUT...its head is pointing down and the water BREAKS and then that baby gotta come out...but FAST!"
"Well," I said, trying to absorb his vision, "that happens to be very appropriate for me at this point in my life." I reacted to him as though he had just accurately read my tarot cards. Then, almost as an afterthought, I asked, "But what does this story have to do with you?"
"I," he said, with a flourish of his cane, "AM the baby!"
I beamed back at him as though I had just been given an audience with a revered guru and went on my way. Not before learning that he was in fact named Elijah the prophet.