It was February 28th, and as was my custom at the time, I got off my bus at Dundas and Richmond in order to walk home. I felt I needed the exercise.
Work had ended early at Kellogg's because of a special corporate meeting in which we were introduced to new products and business strategies (none of which applied to me as a college co-op programmer). I had been given a box of Hunny-B's, a calendar that exhorted me to conform to the Kellogg's virtues, and three decidedly mediocre Disney bobble-heads.
I was carrying these items, walking briskly in the winter air, minding my own business, when the chap in front of me stopped and turned for no readily apparent reason.
His coat was green and his skin was brown. He commented rather loudly to me on the weather, which was cold. "Yeah", I replied, or something to that effect. February is cold. Not much else to say.
The talkative young man, however, would not be dissuaded. Continuing the conversation as though he were my very best friend, he proceeded to describe his life, and what he was doing. He was quite clearly heavily intoxicated, and very cheerful. He possessed no social inhibitions whatsoever.
His name was Paco or Pedro or something like that. I don't remember, but his heritage was definitely Latino.
He was in the midst of drinking with his friends, and had nipped out to pick up some cocaine. Once he had confided this fact to me, he warned me not to tell the police about it, or he would kill me. Then he said he was just kidding.
Paco was in a jovial mood to say the least, and he demonstrated this by joking with everyone we passed as we walked together. His joking consisted of taking something that person owned, claiming it was his, then giving it back and saying that he was merely having a bit of fun with them.
No one else was particularly amused, least of all myself, but that didn't seem to matter.
In the five blocks or so we walked together (or at any rate, parallel to each other) Paco told me about his life, his career and so on. I don't really recall the particulars, but his blue collar aspirations were all reaching fulfillment, so that was good. I did a lot of nodding and smiling.
Paco and I had nothing in common, and I remember feeling as separate from him as possible. I do not drink, and I definitely do not use cocaine. To be honest, I was rather nervous about walking in tandem with this drunken ne'er-do-well, on his way to purchase narcotics.
I was quite glad when we reached his rendez-vous point, and we said good-bye.
Paco was going to wait in the parking lot for his dealer, and I was going to continue on my way home with my free cereal, my inspirational calendar, and my bobble-heads. Before we parted ways, Paco extended his hand.
Now, as I mentioned, Paco and I had virtually nothing in common. I am a very WASPish individual. I do not party. I do not drink. I am ambivalent towards my music. I stay home on my weekends and do well in school and draw funny pictures for people on the Internet.
Typically, when some person of some ethnicity initiates the sequence of hand slaps and gestures that pass for a heartfelt handshake in urban circles, I fail to respond properly and wind up looking sheepishly at my hand. In this respect, I am a typical sitcom stereotype uncool white guy.
This time, however... perhaps it was just dumb luck.
Perhaps the alcohol had slowed Paco's reflexes.
Perhaps it was some lesson from God on the equality of all human beings, or some hidden spark of cosmic kinship between our twin souls.
But I got it right.
For three seconds, my hand and Paco's were perfect mirror images, locked in a rhythmic ballet of finger funkitude that I will carry in my soul until the day I die.
It is a feat I have never performed before or since.
And just like that, it was over. I continued my walk home, knowing that if the laws of probability held any sway over the universe, Paco and I would never cross paths again.