I am David Brooks’ friend with only a high school degree. My skills are unpolished but my shirt is lamé. My good deeds are numerous but my teeth are not. Once I found five dollars on the street but I didn’t know how to use it. You win some, you lose some!

David Brooks is my wise friend. I am always grateful for him taking me to lunch as I cannot walk the streets without becoming disoriented by all the tall buildings around me. They look so similar, and yet they are not the same. Who lives in them, and what do they live for? Do they stare out their windows, looking through identical windows to the lives they wish they lived? What is “5th Avenue”? Without the help of my friend David Brooks, I would stand in the middle of the street paralyzed by these thoughts all day.

When we go to lunch, David Brooks helps me navigate the confusing cultural signifiers I encounter in my daily life. I feel humiliated and excluded because I do not understand them. When we went to the gourmet sandwich shop, I was confused. I was also embarrassed that everyone was so much taller than me on their stilts they got in college. My friend David Brooks sensed my fear and shame. He taught me about the tall bread cylinder and how it is for eating in pieces. Still, I felt out of place. To me, a “Padrino” is a term of endearment for my dad. To me, olive oil is something I use to lubricate my car. You can imagine why I am thankful for my friend David Brooks!

What is “Pomodoro”? What is the “liberal elite”? Why, when David Brooks takes me out to lunch, does he make me line up all my noodles end to end? These are only some of the questions I have when I dine with my friend David Brooks. Once I told him I did not want to line up all my noodles end to end. He said it was understandable that I was frightened and he did not hold it against me as I have no college diploma but I still had to line them up. He kept shouting, “Line ‘em up! Line those noodles up!” When I cried, he apologized and gave me an Airhead from the breast pocket where he keeps them. I immediately felt at home.

I live in the heating vents of David Brooks’ house. I am agile and my lungs are strong from crawling through those vents all day. These are some of the good things about myself that David Brooks tells me to focus on. Every day he takes me into his room and says that my level of education does not matter. So I may be rough around the edges. I have never summered at the Library of Congress. I have never eaten a primary source. I have never read Infinite Jest but my friend David Brooks says that is okay. In fact, he likes that.

 

—W. Caplan

SIMILAR ARTICLES