Sunday, March 30, 2008


He wore a dashiki, a traditional African tribal shirt. It was bold, bright and beautiful. He was a bear of a man, with shock of blond hair. Well over 6 feet tall and weighing close to 250 pounds, he was an imposing figure. His voice was big. His laugh was bigger. He was hard to miss.

I wore a dark turtleneck and an even darker sweater. I stood at least 8 inches smaller and weighed a 100 pounds less than he did. I was bald, with barely any eyebrows, hardly any upper lip, and glasses that helped compensate for amazingly bad eyesight. We were in stark contrast.

We sat across the table from one another. We had come together as a group to celebrate the end of the ski season. We were old and older. The colors of our clothing, and the size of our personalities, were for the most part subdued. With one very large exception, it was a quiet gathering.

Then the oddest thing happened. For really no good reason, I asked the large man across from me to take off his shirt. Knowing he had a white turtleneck underneath, I did not concern myself that there would be the sight of a topless hulk parading around the room . With no question, and no hesitation, the dashiki was removed and handed over . I reached for it, and began to put it on. Like a rock star about to emerge, I saw the crowd get to its feet as one . A startling amount of interest seemed to engulf the room in what was about to transpire. As I put the shirt on, it soon enveloped my body. Feeling for something in the breast pocket, I found a pair of sunglasses that were large enough to fit over my glasses with room to spare. The sunglasses were very dark, and gave me the appearance, so I later heard, of Jack Nicholson.

I suddenly felt like Jim Carrey in the Mask. I became Danny Devito to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins. I began to have an out of body experience. My voice suddenly boomed. My laugh filled the room. The crowd , buoyed by the sight before it., became alive. Cameras started to click. People started to move towards me. I was someone, and something, entirely different.

But, as quickly as it occurred, it ended. Having been the center of attention for too long, I slid the shirt over my head, took the sunglasses off, and became Clark Kent again. My moment in the spotllight having faded, I sat back in my seat and resumed my old persona.

Yet , I know that somewhere deep inside of me is a big man, with a big voice and a big laugh. It may be hiding , but, having seen it for at least a moment, I believe it is with me forever. Next year there is talk of everyone coming to the gathering in dashiki and sunglasses. There is a part of us that rarely if ever sees the light of day that is asking for its time to shine. Move over big guy, you may soon have a lot of company.


Anonymous said...

You really asked some guy to remove his shirt?

And I would say "barely any eyebrows" is quite generous. But I am sure, on that night, you had a plump upper limp and a unibrow.

Robert said...

I think he was too startled not to agree to my request.

In my persona that evening , my shortcomings all disappeared. If only I could bottle whatever was in that shirt.