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Ben Vereen is Following Me Around*

Eighteen years ago when I was a college student from Oklahoma visiting New York with dreams of one day living here, I stood, not moving, outside the lobby of a Broadway theatre caught in the post-show throng and not knowing immediately which way to go. A hand reached out to guide me aside. I turned my head to see Ben Vereen pass. For the rest of the week, I reminded everyone in my tour group that Ben Vereen had touched me. Last night as I emerged from the theatre, I stopped, looking both ways down the street for the direction to my subway. Even after ten years of living in the city, it is still sometimes difficult to find my bearings. A hand touched my arm to guide me aside and I turned my head to see Ben Vereen saunter past. I happened to be walking in the same direction as he, so after about half a block when he stopped so his companion could take a phone call, I stepped in: “I would like to tell you a story,” I begin. A slight look of, was it fear?, crosses his brow. “Eighteen years ago outside a theatre you touched my arm as you passed an I was ridiculously thrilled. You just did it again!” Before I can continue blithering, he chuckles and reaches both of his hands out to take mine. “You got a good arm,” he tells me. “It called me back.” I laugh, wish him a good evening, and walk away, once again, ridiculously thrilled by Ben Vereen. Hey Ben, see you at the theatre! But let’s not wait another eighteen years. (*noted by JLP)

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