Of Donuts and Holes
“Keep your eye on the donut; not on the hole,” my father was fond of saying.
Next Monday is his birthday (he would be 93), and sometimes when I think of these words from him, I recall a story someone once told me about donuts.
As this man, who we’ll call Will, tells it, he’s single and living in New Jersey. Every day he commutes to work in the city by bus. In the evening, he heads back to Port Authority, buys a little snack, and goes upstairs to wait for the bus to take him back home.
Late one rainy afternoon, our friend buys some of his favorite chocolate covered donuts and rides the escalator in the terminal to the upper level. There by the gate’s waiting area, he spots an empty seat on the bench. It’s a bit warm, so first he removes his raincoat, folds it, and places it, along with his little white bag of donuts, down on the bench. He then sits himself down and starts reading his paper.
Out of the corner of his eye, he soon notices that the young (and very pretty) woman sitting to his right was starting to eat his donuts!
“What the …?!” At first he’s confused. Is she flirting with me? He wonders. But he’s also a bit peeved.
The next time he senses her hand going into the bag, he turns to make sure he’s not just imagining this, and also to let her know that he sees what she’s doing. But she seems oblivious, and is blithely reading her own paper, and doesn’t catch his eye — although she is clearly enjoying his donuts, even licking the lingering crumbs off her fingers!
Will is incensed. True, she’s beautiful and, he notices, she isn’t wearing a ring on her pastry-pilfering hand. But this isn’t right! These are my donuts!
While he’s trying to decide what to do, he realizes that at the very least, if he’s ever going to enjoy his little snack, he’d better start doing so. He’d only bought four donuts, and she’d already eaten two of them!
So he reaches into the bag, and just as he is pulling one out, she’s reaching over for another one. Their hands brush a moment, and she looks over at Will and nods, her face blossoming into a big smile. Then she takes the last remaining donut, and goes back to her paper.
The nerve of some people! Will thought. Just like the women in this town: When they’re good looking, they think they’re entitled!
Just then the bus pulls up. The young woman stands up, smiles again and, saying “Good night!” turns and boards the bus.
Will, appalled at her rudeness, grumbles to himself as he picks up his raincoat. And right there, sitting neatly on the bench, is his little white bag, filled with four chocolate covered donuts.
Will’s so stunned, and embarrassed, he lets the bus go without boarding it. He just stands there.
I — I have been eating her donuts!
Seeing things negatively; assuming the negative about people; these are things we New Yorkers do without giving it a second thought. Perhaps this is what my father was thinking when he said, Keep your eye on the donut; not on the hole.