05 de gener, 2015

A Christmas Tale: Lost… and then Found!

By Spike Wilner

For those of you who know me, you know that I consider myself to be a Buddhist.  One of my most cherished memories of the year was when we had a purification ritual performed at Mezzrow by my friend jazz pianist & Zen priest Jeremy Manasia.  A small brass Buddha was presented to us and became the club's Buddha.  After the ceremony we found a place for him in a windowsill where he sits serenely in meditative repose listening to all the great piano players.

One night at the end of December I noticed that a customer had placed his bag on the sill.  Normally I don’t mind if drinks or things are placed there – we’re a bar, not a monastery, so I didn’t say anything.  About ten minutes later I came back around and notice that the Buddha was gone!  I couldn’t believe it.  I searched around with a flashlight but to no avail.  I was stricken with dread.  This was definitely a bad omen – to have the club’s Buddha stolen.  I asked my bartender and waitress about it, who were equally shocked, but nobody had an answer.  But in my mind I heard a voice say, “the guy with the bag stole him”.

The guy with the bag was now sitting on the other side of the room.  He kind of had a glazed look in his eye.  I approached him gingerly; “sir, we’ve lost our little Buddha statue.  I noticed you had your bag there a few moments ago.  Did you see it or, perhaps, see anyone near it?”  He looked at me and said; “I don’t know anything about that.”  There was something in his eye and I knew he was lying.  “Are you sure?” I asked again.  “I don’t know anything about It.,” he reiterated.

Now I was really getting depressed.  I take omens very seriously and was trying to think about what karmic infraction I could have made to have such a cosmically serious event such as having the club’s Buddha stolen imposed upon us.  I know I had yelled at my poor mother the day before – perhaps this was my punishment.  I went about my business in a dark mood cleaning up glasses and patrolling the club.

About 20 minutes later, the guy with the bag was now standing in a line for our restroom.  I walked past him and looked him in the eye as I passed.  He glanced at me.  Then, for some reason I don’t understand, I looked back at him and saw in his back pocket our Buddha!  It was just sticking out of his back pocket.  I turned back and grabbed it.  “Sir, what is this?!”.  He was stunned.  “Ok, just get out of the club”, I said angrily.  His face changed – “I’m sorry”, he stammered, “I’m so sorry…” My anger left me.  “Ok, no problem”, I said, “I’m just glad to get it back.”  Then the guy burst into tears!  Sobbing uncontrollably he began to say things like; “I love this club… I’m having a terrible time with my girlfriend…, etc.”.  I felt this guy’s pain and shame.  Realizing that I had to be a Buddha myself, I took a compassionate stance.  “Ok, ok”, I said placatingly, “All is forgiven.  Please don’t worry about it.”  At that, he turned around and left the club.

Kind of in shock, I placed the Buddha back in his place and Buddha went right back to his contemplative meditation.  I carefully examined the statue.  Was he smiling?  It seemed to me that there was a little grin on his beatific face.  The rest of the evening went smooth as silk...

My best wishes to you and your loved ones for the New Year.  I hope to see everyone at Smalls and Mezzrow.