Wednesday afternoon. A few years ago. Sun shining. 72 degrees.
Leonard finally showed up and sat next to me on the park bench. We agreed to meet at 3:30 p.m. and it was already a ten minutes to four. I wondered what a guy like Leonard could be doing that would make him twenty minutes late to our first meeting about the documentary project. I wondered why he wanted to meet on a park bench in front of the basketball courts. I wondered why he down and stared at the three-on-three game in front of us without saying hello. I wondered…
“There’s a rhythm to it. A constant, driving beat. Can you feel it?”
Leonard finally uttered those words about 4 o’clock, nearly ten minutes after he first sat down. I was fairly agitated by that time but I didn’t respond. I was there to offer this scruffy guy a decent amount of money to allow us to document his life, but I was told there were certain words & actions that could really set him off and I didn’t want to get this project off to a bad start (or get my ass kicked). So there I was, sitting silently next to him…watching some guys play three-on-three.
“Basketball is a lot like life itself,” he said. “You don’t have to know all the rules to play, but unless you know the basics you can’t even enjoy a simple pick-up game in the park.”
With that, he got up and walked away. I slumped back into the bench and tried to figure out what had just happened. It was 4:05 p.m. and as I looked up at the game in front of me I began to realize that I probably needed Leonard a lot more than he needed me.