I was excited about the reservation I had just made that had the promise of the best pizza in the city and a snuggly courtyard that offered a bring-your-own vibe.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a wet t-shirt crinkled up in the street and litter strewn on overgrown strips of lawn wedged between the sidewalk and the street next to the restaurant.
I was perplexed because it was billed as “Little Italy” and I’ve lived in sections like that where everything from the lawns and tomato-and-basil-filled gardens were as meticulous as their Lincolns parked outside their stoop.
I wandered into his Italian deli attached to the restaurant and he answered questions about his ravioli from Brooklyn and homemade gelato.
There seemed to be a disconnect. The inside was what I expected: Italian delicacies and its accompanying pride. But the outside?
I leaned over the counter and asked the owner, “What’s with all the crap on the streets?”
In an instant, I was transported into his world. He was infuriated by my question. “All cities are like this. Name one that isn’t. You’re dissing my city.”
It spilled out of him as a counterpunch and I was knocked out. I apologized, told him I didn’t mean to insult him personally.
As I awakened from the 10-count of his uppercut, I examined my dazed conscience and I was mortified that I had even asked the question
It was a tale of two cities: the small-town guy meeting up with a south-end city man.
I profusely apologized to God on my way home and thought about the country’s racial unrest.
It was clear that this was no fictional “tale.”
To be continued
PORTAL TO HEAVEN: Hearts are exposed through words.
An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars...Do not judge, or you too will be judged. Proverbs 18:19 NLT, Matthew 7:1 NIV