The Old Man Sitting Behind Me

In a coffee shop, there is an old man who is sitting behind me. He is 60 years old or so, wearing a university polo. His ears are big. His head is bald. In front of him are a pink calculator, some index cards with a childlike writing, and a book with lots of bright colorful pictures and some pretty big words. Not words with many letters, mind you, just simple words in large type.

He is learning to read and write.

He doesn’t want me to look carefully. So I don’t. Just a quick askance here and there. In the corner of my eye, there is a fresh six-pack of pencils, unsharpened. There is a stack of index cards; the top one is blue and says “K I T E”. I got up because I wanted to look more. I feel guilty for wanting to look more. “A boy is playing with a ball.”

He reads, and then writes.

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