Sreejit Poole at Seeker’s Dungeon suggests we write about role models. When it comes to role models I sympathize with Charles Barkley, who resented the burden of being a role model. Good old Charles.
When I was a kid I idolized Willie Mays. At age 12 or so I idolized the author Howard Fast. But then I saw a photo of him. He was just a plain-looking guy going bald. Charles Chaplin was a later hero, but when I read his autobiography I was disappointed that his genious did not extend into every area of human endeavor. Chaplin was not perfect, goshdarnit. Harpo Marx’s autobiography was similarly disappointing. You can begin to get an idea of my catchment area vis a vis heroes and role models. I’m not a very serious person. And I don’t take hero worship and mentoring very seriously. I do feel, though, that I’ve been influenced by a great number of people. Each one of them is a part of me. And the same is true, I imagine, for all of us. Everything influences us. Even Sir Charles .
I wrote a blog on this subject a while back and here it is.
Angels, Lifechangers, and Laughter
Eric Alagan and billgncs posted last week about “lifechangers”: people who played pivotal roles in their lives. Eric called them angels, and in his beautiful way described a life changer, an angel in his life.
I’ve been trying to think of the life changers in my own life, but I can think of no single person or life changer in particular. My life looks to me like some long but inevitable path, an unanalyzable unit. But in my efforts to remember life changers and angels I recalled some of the innumerable people I have met who were at least part-angels: peeople who shined for me, who smiled, who befriended me, who helped, who liked me, who shared something with me. Taken together they create quite a bright light – a bonfire, as Eric suggests.
I thought of Craig W., a classmate in 3rd grade. A chunky African-American kid in our mostly white, mostly Italian, P.S. 34 in the Bronx, who went home from school by train. (Yes, it was safe for an 8 year old to take the train by himself back then) As I lived adjacent to the train station, Craig and I would walk together. We would laugh almost continuously. I remember we had something of a joke about the words “sour cream” and “sour milk”. The mere mention of either of these words would throw our 8 year old psyches into paroxysms of laughter. Craig would usually cry from laughing, his round torso would jiggle and bounce with laughter. On the last day of school we were laughing even more wildly than ever. As we approached the train station, I said, “See ya in September, Craig”. Craig said “See ya” as he walked giggling and guffawing all the way up the station steps. But Craig must have moved over the summer, and I never saw him again.
What an amazing piece of joy Craig brought me with his “sour cream” and “sour milk” jokes.
A gift from the heavens it was!
I think of it now and smile.