The Same Abe

September 17, 2011
Hudson River Waterfront
approximately West 25th Street, New York, NY 10001


THE SAME ABE from Bethany Ides on Vimeo.

THE SAME ABE, which was wherefore predicated 12 years previous when a short, hairy, bald man stopped me in the street & implored me to join him for tea.  It seemed natural, I thought, for Abe to stop me because I was dressed as though I’d misinterpreted my stage directions.  I am reconstructing now a sense of motion, of glancing down at the depression a droplet makes in a pool, seeing only tulle and swinging beads.  Then, once we’d reached the macro-biotic place w/ tea on our table, Abe began crying and took comfort in holding both my hands at once.  It was dramatic.  He was unmistakably a bothered dramatist.  There was something he said about a woman in a bathtub full of cold water with all the lights turned off & him crying because she was so sensitive to the electricity.  Then, a week or so later, Abe found me again.  He appeared relieved as he produced several rolls of film he'd just gotten developed, all pictures of gum on the sidewalk.

   A few days before the hurricane that never came, I called Abe & told him this story.  I remembered “Abe,” & googling around, I'd found his poster on an NYU student's blog – FEEL YOUR ALIVENESS – & concluded this must be the same Abe.  He let the answering machine answer before picking up & began recounting for himself the traumatized woman’s childhood memories, the textures of the gum, the many people he says he stopped then.  But he didn't remember me.

   Abe raised his voice saying he would not wear a color or make a scene, but in his nervousness, he did.  He said, “What is it you’re looking for?” & when I arrived in a disguise & then removed that disguise I kept asking him the whole time, “Do I look familiar to you?”  He repeated the lines he’d written on his yellow legal pad in private preparation: “It was 12 years ago” & “She said she knew me,” to anyone who looked his way.  He believed me & started to sing about the government.  I said, “Do you want to wear my wig?” & then I had to hold his head up so he wouldn’t fall over & so the wig wouldn’t fall off & into the river.

   Whether it was over before it began or is still going, I get calls from Abe now every other week like clockwork.  Whenever I wear the beads, I run into him again.  He’ll be looking lost in front of a row of flowers at the bodega or at a rally standing still as the crowd marches forth around him.  He’s so upset all over again when he sees me.  In his messages, he says, “Where are you?  Are you in New York?  I have no idea.”  He's finally feeling ready to begin workshopping his 1-man show.  It’s written out on brown paper bags, he showed me.  It’s about a man whose clients stop seeing him & he gets his hip replaced & doesn’t know who to turn to.