I Didn’t Stick My Hand In Any Cement

by Jessica Delfino

I was walking to the subway today and I walked past Sullivan Theater, home of the David Letterman show. The front of the theater was all roped off and a man was spreading fresh, wet cement out flat and with a metal-looking mop-like thing attached to a long stick. I walked by the new cement and smelled that earthy fall dirt smell and saw the glistening blocks of rock mud and it was all I could do not to stick my fingers or whole hand, I couldn’t even decide, deep into the setting sidewalk. No one seemed to be watching me. I thought about just plopping my hand in there, or maybe even reaching in and just grabbing out a handful of the stuff. Would the man flatten back over it with his stick? Or would he just let it stay? What would happen if I got away with it and the cement dried and my hand print stayed there? I closed my eyes for a moment and tried to imagine.

The year in my mind’s eye was 2016. I was walking down the road with a friend I haven’t met yet and saying something like, “Hey, remember when the David Letterman show used to be here?” And she’d be like, “No, who?” And I’d be like, “David Letterman, the late night talk show guy.” Then she’d be like, “What? I don’t know who that is.” And I’d be like, “You don’t know who David Letterman is?” And she’d be like, “No. Is he famous?” And I’d be like, “Yeah, he’s totally famous. He used to have a show in this theater every day.” And she’d be like, “Hm. That’s weird. I guess I just never heard of him.” And I’d be like, “Well, anyway, look, that’s my handprint.” And she’d be like, “Oh, cool. You did that?” And I’d be like, “Yeah. 13 years ago.” Then there would be silence for a minute as she digested what I’d just told her and tried to figure out the reaction I was looking for. During her comprehensive momentus, I’d be watching her, wondering what she was was thinking and hoping she wasn’t judging me. Then we’d walk away and talk about something else. Maybe we’d go get a low cal ice cream cone or buy a book from the sidewalk library robot.

Well, I didn’t stick my hand in the mud rock and I didn’t leave my hand or fingerprints for the children of the year 2016 to glance upon in wonder, but I did walk to the subway and enter the turnstile and go onto the platform and wait for my train.

And you know what? It felt just as nice as sticking my hand into cement might have felt.

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