Monday, July 20, 2009

Hey Mister, Hey Mister!

I won't think I've measured your dreams just by looking at your face.

I'm just saying? Next time you're on the patio and a mosquito lights in your crotch area? Before swatting good & hard, consider; this may be a date with destiny for both of you.

So what is it about Mike you find so endearing? Well, he challenges my assumptions, and his exuberance about his passion.

Like today he walks up to me, no "Hi, how ya doin" just straight into it. "You ever seen that movie Valkyrie?"
"No I haven't, have you?"
"Yeah, it reminded me of Battle of the Bulge movie."
"You mean it's got a semi-documentary feel to it, and keeps switching back & forth, showing what the two sides are doing?"
"Naw, there ain't really two sides. It's about trying to kill-"
"Yeah I know, Von Stauffenberg plot. So why's it like Battle of the Bulge to you?"
"Ah, the costumes and sets, realistic feel to it. These modern war movies they usually skimp on details like that. I bought the DVD if you ever wanna borrow it?"

This wouldn't be odd conversation if Mike looked like a Jeapordy contestant...OK I don't know what a Jeapordy contestant looks like, but I know what they DON'T look like; Mike. He looks like a rapper's body guard. Bet when he crosses a street, he hears car doors locking. 6'3" and 320 lbs. of mostly muscle. He could probably without much effort wrench my arm from its socket. But he's a gentle giant who means me no bodily harm, except for talking my ears off of course.

He just started in on me one day, with a stream of concsiousness thing I can only describe as "Jack Kerouac teaches history." Something like...
"WWI was just the dumbest war ever not only didn't it solve nothing but it made stuff worse the way Germany was treated after the war just set up the conditions for Hitler to get power and there wouldn't have been a Bolshevik revolution and the USSR except for WWI and the Czar wasn't really that bad and they even killed the Czar's little children poor little kids they hadn't hurt anybody that was just cruel nothing but cruel all of WWI was just stupid and cruel you know they even used poison gas in that war?"

I said, "Yeah, first time was Battle of the Somme." And he smiled, realizing he'd just accidentally found the only other person in a five mile radius who knows as much history as he does.

But I wonder why he started on WWI with me in the first place? Sure, people know I'm intelligent. This because I had business cards printed saying, "Dave's REALLY REALLY smart." And right under that in parentheses, "except about swatting mosquitos." Still, even without the cards, language is a way we form impressions of people, and I've got a large vocabulary. So maybe Mike figured a smart guy like me would enjoy learning about WWI?

Or maybe he's sensitive to the stereotype that big, strong guys are dumb. A fellow smart guy enters his range, and he wants to let me know he's got something under the hood too.

Perhaps he just goes around telling everybody he meets about WWI, the Great Depression, and how Patton got a raw deal, Patton was the best general we had (Mike really likes General Patton).

You'll never know which Dave, so you get to make up your own narrative! What's it gonna be dude?

Well I'd like to think I radiate inclusiveness, and people sense I'm a safe place to bring the trinkets of their secret joy, that they won't be made to feel foolish for their effort. Gosh Dave, soaring prose there buddy! What's that somewhat more compact term for this vibe you radiate, the one April uses? Oh Yeah! "Weirdo Magnet."

But I find something achingly beautiful in imagining Mike going around telling everybody he meets, all about historical stuff. Throwing his joy against so many human walls, hoping it'll stick eventually. It bespeaks a passion so great its bearer senses the weight is too much for one to carry.

The thing where I'm a welcoming spirit, some hollow tree where all the Boo Radleys crossing my path can safely hide their what-nots? That's ego food of course, but your ego could do with a couple weeks in Somalia, if ya know what I mean?

I prefer the prettier image. A big man going through the world trying to let all know, "I'm not what I appear, I'm what I am." Exercising the sacred right of self-definition that's denied to all of us by all of us. Because we're petty and mean, or just too busy with our problems to stop & listen. Labels are cheap, listening is expensive.

Really I don't know which it is: Either I'm a hollow tree, or Mike's out there throwing his passion at every human wall that comes along. I know one thing for sure though? In the near future I expect to hear a LOT about General Patton.

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