AJ Ericksen's Blog World

Monday, July 5

Making a Friend

After lunch today, I made a quick stop by Half Price Books on Westheimer. On the way in, I passed a bearded man in his mid-30s begging for change. I didn't notice him.

My hope was to find a copy of Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey" or "Moondance." That effort failed, but I did make a "friend."

I paused on the way out to look at a book of Edward Hopper paintings. As I stood there, the panhandler entered and started walking toward me. "Hey buddy, I have a question," he called to me. Figuring he wanted changed, I touched my left leg subtly to check for coinage. As he neared, he made his request. "Can I have a hug? I really nead a hug man."

Not knowing how to respond, I shrugged my shoulders, which he interpreted as permission. He proceeded to squeeze me, and wouldn't let go. His embrace got tighter, I could feel the sweaty dampness of his shirt through mine. It was pretty gross. "There, there," I said, patting on the back.

After about 20 seconds that felt like 20 minutes, he released me. And I again breathed fresh air. "Thanks, man," he said, walking away. "I would have asked that girl, but then I probably would have gotten in trouble."

Also, I went to a climbing gym this afternoon with a girl from across the street. My forearms are killing me, but for you, loyal readers, I'll type through the pain.

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