Friday, February 12, 2010


Robert Epstein. Every time there is new snow, my thoughts turn to Robert Epstein.

I have always loved the sight of freshly fallen snow. At 7 years old, looking out the living room window from my house in Teaneck, I was mesmerized. I was having a play date with my friend Gerry, but all my attention was focused on what I saw outside. It was pristine. It was perfect.

I lived in a house on a corner lot, one block from the elementary school. Robert Epstein was slightly older than me. I knew him by name only.

I did not know where Robert lived, but I guess it was somewhere in the area of my residence. Suddenly, he appeared out of the corner of my eye. Where he came from, I was not sure. Where he was going, I did not know. How he was getting there was the problem.

He was ruining everything. Cutting across our front yard to save himself a few feet , he was destroying beauty. I bolted up and was outside in an instant. "Get off the lawn, get off the lawn", I shouted. I was running and screaming, lunging towards my enemy.

Suddenly, there was one punch, delivered directly to the stomach, and it was all over. Nothing could be heard but the gasping, reaching for breath that wouldn't come. I was bent over and Robert Epstein was gone.

Our paths crossed many years later. Robert Epstein was now a foot taller than me, and certainly almost twice my weight. We passed each other in silence, my revenge put on hold for the indefinite future.

It snowed hard yesterday. As I looked out the seventh floor window of my apartment, it was impossible to tell if there was an inch or a foot of snow on the ground. While I still find great joy in watching the flakes fall from the sky, it has different meaning in many ways these days. Difficulty traveling, shutting down of business, and other concerns of the world have interceded to somewhat temper my enthusiasm. But I still love the purity of the moment, and the image.

Wait, I think I see someone starting to walk in the back yard of our apartment complex. We have no grass back there, but there is plenty of concrete. I want to shout, "Get off the concrete, get off the concrete". Yet,it does not seem to resonate the way it did half a century before. I want to rush to put on my jacket, but now see the offender walking away. I think he reminds me of someone, but I just can't put my finger on it.


Pam said...

I do not remember Robert Epstein but I do remember Gerry!

Jeff C said...

I wished I was at your house in Teaneck. A snowball attack would have done the trick. I miss those days.

Jeff C