I know it took a lot of courage to look me in the eye this morning and smile. I’ve been on your side, hiding behind a microbiology text book, hoping no will notice the acne on my face, my crooked, chipped teeth, my hair that looks like a mistake of nature, my legs that are too thin for some and too big for others.
Over the last few days, I've sadly, maddeningly watched the reports of innocent lives shattered by violence in Louisiana, Minnesota and last night in Dallas. This morning a reporter on CNN said somberly, "Five of Dallas' finest lost their lives...."; I've heard the same thing in the reportage of Alton Sterling's and Philando Castile's murders and the slaughter in Orlando; these people "lost their lives."
I want to offer an observation and then an apology. I was sitting on the subway this morning and overheard this conversation from one young woman to another: Friend A: Want a piece of this apple? Friend B: No, thanks. Friend A: You really should eat it. You look thin to me. Friend B: Same weight as always. Friend A: Yeah… which is too skinny.
I’m fascinated by a woman who works in the lobby of my office building. The color of her hair is not in nature, but if an eggplant was on a collision course with a burnt, red tomato, you’d get the idea. For the eight years I’ve worked here she’s always had grey/white roots that cap a third of her head.
We were traveling on the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut. I was in my Jeep, going about 65 miles an hour in the right lane and you were in the left lane in your…well, I don’t what you were in because I never saw you. I did FEEL you, though, as you side-swiped my Jeep, forcing me to jerk right and collide into a guardrail, blowing out a tire, and ripping off a good portion of the side of my Jeep. And then you kept driving.
Over the last couple of months, I’ve been drawn to the word “demagoguery” for some reason. It’s one of those words I’ve read in the newspaper, heard repeatedly on Anderson 360, heard blasted from Bill Maher’s mouth, Rachel Maddow’s mouth and even Bill O’Reilly’s mouth (when I accidentally lingered on his image on television).
So I’m in a doctor’s office, doing maintenance on a body that’s been thrown around the world for a good long while, and the technician that’s checking out the vitals – Theresa -- is chatty. It’s early in the morning, so I’m not so chatty; I’m in a not-had-enough-coffee- coma. But Theresa is chatty, and I’m a southern boy, so I know I have to volley the conversation so I don’t look like a New Yorker who can’t be bothered with the simplest shades of humanity.
So what do you do when you’re two hours early for your flight? Read, think, sleep, watch people, eat bad food, look for drama, make to-do lists (which I’ll lose somewhere), write an email, cruise on-line, create a new workout for the gym (which I’ll forget about by the time I get home), outline a play in my head, think about the next class I’m teaching – in short, I take a mini-vacation on a large linoleum floor.