After meeting up with a 40 something year old professional at The Odeon in Tribeca, a 25 year old ex-con attempted to pick me up on the subway. "You know, you're hot as f***." He said to me as we entered the subway car. I smiled, amused by his cussword compliment. "Ah, and you have a beautiful, bad-ass smile too." I regretted my smile reply as he proceeded to sit RIGHT beside me even though the subway car was only a third full.
Of course, at that point I didn't know he was an ex-con. And since I was in a particularly good mood from a particularly good evening, I played along with his conversation. I suspect he was either drunk or high - but either way, he didn't seem threatening. However, on the ride uptown to Harlem, he explained to me that he was incarcerated from the time he was 18 until he was 21. I began to reconsider, perhaps I shouldn't be so friendly to subway strangers.
But then he went on to share with me that his life is much better now than it was a few years ago; he's going to college and has a business plan he is working on. He then asked me questions about my life, and I shared some of my non ex-con experiences - like winning tickets to the Super Bowl one year and then losing everything in Hurricane Sandy a couple of years later.
He then told me he is going to be a dad in March. I asked if he was on good terms with the mom, and he said yes, but that he was freakin' out about being a father. He asked me if I had any advice on parenting. I was a bit stumped in knowing how to reply. And he was bit surprised in learning I didn't have any kids of my own.
But the question he was asking me was a big one, and we didn't have much time before the subway would stop and I would need to get off. And so I suggested he pick up and read the only book on parenting I know - God's True Law: A parent's guide to raising successful children, written by the captain of my high school football team. Which actually is more a book on being a better you, so that you can a better role model for your kids.
I really did think the book would be a beneficial read for this 25 year old - if he'd actually commit to reading it. But that seemed highly unlikely. Still, he wrote the name of the title and author down in his phone, and then asked for my information as well. But rather than giving it to him, I told him, "Once you finish reading the book, get a hold of the author, and he'll give you my information. I'll give him a heads up that you might be contacting him." He agreed. And so we'll see if this ex-con will actually read my friend Garrett's book. If he does, it could have a tremendous impact on his life, and on his child's as well. Sayin' a prayer that he does, and although it's less than ideal to sit beside an ex-convict on a long subway ride home, I'm glad that I did on this particular evening.