[MCU Park, Coney island; home of the Brooklyn Cyclones*]
You know how, sometimes, you can spot a face in the crowd and suddenly, that one stranger is the only person you see? And how, because the expression on his or her face is so revealing, so nakedly truth-telling, you feel as though you have a reasonably good chance of knowing what’s going on with that person? Me, too.
Two days after the attack at the satirical magazine, “Charlie Hebdo,” office in Paris when twelve people were murdered, on a bitterly cold night in Davis Square; that’s when I spotted him. Maybe Ethiopian, maybe Eritrean, maybe Muslim, his distress, frustration, anger were palpable. He wore a blue, embroidered ski hat, the kind that hangs over your ears and could be tied under your chin—only nobody does—and a suitably warm jacket. “Well, at least he’s dressed for this horrible cold,” I thought. At least.
Okay, maybe he’d just had a fight with his girlfriend. Maybe his boss had given him a hard time. Maybe his distress centered on the cold. Why wouldn’t it? But I tend to think that he, a stranger in a strange land, was feeling his alienation—as in being an outsider, a dark face in a sea of white—with every cell of his being. And that his loneness infuriated him.
To catch the briefest glimpse of that man’s lonely, painful fury (if, in fact, that’s what I saw) was, for me to contemplate the Kouachi brothers, who’d murdered 12 cartoonists two days before, and the Tsarnaev brothers, the Boston Marathon bombers.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not condoning murder. And I am not saying that every immigrant is a potential murderer. Absolutely NOT! I am merely saying at for a fleeting moment on a cold winter’s night I may have spotted the same pain and alienation that has generated so much pain.
* That man in the white cap and T shirt stood for the entire game although repeatedly asked and begged to sit down.