So,,,,I hop out of the car, in the middle of downtown, reach into the back of my trunk and pull an enormous box from it…a box which once held 48 four packs of Dove moisturizing unscented bars….I set it on the ground and stare at for a bit….ya think this will hold me? I ask, sort of to myself, and sort of to anyone at all who is passing by…I don’t get any answers. I look around, just a block away or so I see the “occupiers.” Wow. Is this what I have become. Honestly, am I no better than these people? Staring at them I’m forced to admit to myself that other than the obvious amount of attention they garner, they do look to be very serious about what they are doing. Perhaps as serious as a cat who hasn’t eaten in three days and will just not stop clawing your bedroom door. But then you are forced to think, if I don’t feed the cat what is he really going to do about it? I wonder if we have looked at them that way. Honestly, what are they really going to do about it? The answer to if I’m better than them or not weighs in my mind a bit and I settle on.. Well at least I have a job, after all I’m doing this is on my off day. The thought makes me smile a bit, and I reassure myself that yes indeed, the box will hold me up, well it should….
I stand up on the box and proceed to follow through with my plan….
Step one, take off my clothes…man I didn’t think it’d be so cold today. Of course I knew it was going to be cold that day….sort of the point,,shock value you know…perfectly normal for the 24th of December to be cold. Besides it’s much easier to attract attention to yourself in this kind of weather if you are standing around in just your knickers on top of a box, rather than fully clothed.
Step Two, start singing Man in the Mirror, crap, couldn’t I have picked a better song, maybe one that is a bit in my own key, that way I’m not getting looked at like one of those auditioners from American Idol that are just there to be on TV.. Although my intention there had absolutely nothing to do with changing myself, though the outcome might be a change for me as well, I thought the classic hit from old MJ would be a perfect tune to attract a crowd….and I was right
Step Three….just start talking….. I had never been more prepared in my whole life. I’d mapped out my whole speech….I would spin a tale of such intrigue, of such shocking truth that the audience would be captivated, moved to tears even. It would be full of suspense, heart break, betrayal, conspiracy,, and just when they thought the worst had happened the third act would push them to the point of giving up…and then the answer……and at last I’d offer them HOPE. They would find such purpose in my talk, such inspiration that they would go through a change right then. Right at that moment they would alter themselves and their own family trees for generations to come. I would be amazing…..
It will be amazing…..
I was so ready. Nearly sure that here right now at this very moment is what the better part of my life had been preparing me for. I wasn’t cold, I wasn’t nervous, I was filled with the need to share..and give everything of myself to these 60 or 70 onlookers…..
and then I saw her……
Front Row, about my 10 oclock (just to my front left for those of you not acquainted with those directions)…she was bursting at the seams pregnant, it seemed she held just about all her impossibly petite frame could hold, Jeez her due date has to be…right now.. In fact it was an amazing sight to behold, and she would have been equally as beautiful as the fact that she was pregnant had she not been tugging on a Marlboro…..
What a shame…
Just to her right side my eyes locked with a man at least twice my age…his clothes were tired, his eyes worn…..he’d seen a lot, been through a lot, those tired hands clutched a paper bag that could only have held the cheapest bottle of liquor that the store around the corner sold….
Just then a voice turned my head…..it was a school age child, her voice shrill and peircing….she was standing with her mother and brother, he was roughly the same age. Mom was rather overweight..Huge..and it seemed she was doing the best to have her kids catch up and eventually surpass her. Her children each clutched a burger of some sort in one hand and a meal full of happiness box in the other….it was the box that was creating the argument as it appeared that bro was trying to relieve sis of her toy…her toy or the french fries….wow…
The authenticity of what I was about to do finally sank in.
What could I possibly say to change this? How could I possibly connect with these people…..how could I hold on to them long enough to pull them away from the commercials, the restaurants, the pizza, the wings, the beer, their cubicles? What was I going to say today that would really do any good at all? Are they really going to listen to some half crazed, freezing, (albeit charming), half-naked man on a soap box standing in front of the biggest toy store in the world on Christmas eve???? Really, isn’t health and fitness the farthest thing from chimney mom’s mind…hell she’s probably lucky to make rent since Dad’s not around anymore to help….Weren’t most of them going to go home tonight, order out, plop in front of the television, and eat, drink, and be Merry….after all tis the season…..for heart disease, cancer, obesity…..it would seem. How can I possibly change their minds????
I bowed my head in defeat, and took one foot down from the soap box…..I was finished….there was, in my mind, no longer anything I had to offer them. I had lost the game even before it started.
…then I saw him….
He was young, maybe 6, and nestled into his mother’s leg, but staring at me intently. I perhaps imagined tears welling in his eyes, perhaps not, either way, he was the moment I needed. In him I saw incredible things. I saw a world were people cared for each other first, and found that in doing so it was really caring for themselves. I saw a world where we didn’t settle for being lied to by the media, where we didn’t expect politicians to be half true with us. I saw a world where heart disease was as foreign to us as the bubonic plague…and damnit when you saw people at the mall, or Target, or in line for the bank…can you believe it they were happy, because they felt good, and lived healthy….amazing the things I saw in the young man’s eyes, once I made it past Spiderman and the Power Rangers…..and then there it was…..
HOPE………by god he wants me to talk…..
In that moment I wasn’t talking to a crowd of people any longer, I was speaking to him. As far as I was concerned this little guy was going to be somebody important, and I was going to influence him right now…hell this little guy may even be president 40 years from now…how crazy of a thought is that…..
Rejuvenated I stood up on the soapbox, fully prepared to address my congregation……
Deep breath, here goes…
” Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Robert Edwin Vest II, and wow do I have a story for you……”