“What are YOU looking at?”
“I am looking at you,” I said.
“You are an interesting person,” I ventured.
“What do you mean?”
Ah, I think to myself, a glimmer of humanity, if only quick curiosity.
“Well, like all the rest of us have had to, you are becoming an adult and your intelligence and athletic ability are showing through the antisocial bed you’ve mad for yourself.” I hoped that didn’t sound condescending, as I knew I would only get one chance.
“By the way, what is your passion?”
“What are you fascinated with?”
“Music I guess.”
“What is your main life goal in music then?”
“I want to play drums.”
“When are you going to do it?”
“Oh I don’t know.” A snort of impatience comes with this one.
“How bout right now?”
Fortunately for me, I know just a little. I grab a nearby pencil and rap out a simple African bell rhythm on the table. I hand the boy/man a pencil and suggest a two beat answer. We play this for a second and then I add a complimentary riff. With no words between us he adds one too. Pretty soon he we have graduated to palms on the tabletop and a pan lid. We go on without talking for perhaps twenty minutes.
I have no more time so I get up and say, “Yeah, keep up the good work I think you’ll make that goal easily.”
He looks up astonished. I get a quick grin as a reward.
As I leave I realize that today I have touched an alien. Hopefully he will realize that he can do anything and this brief encounter with a stranger will help him on his difficult path. After all, teenagers are often what you tell them they are, and when you find one who is rude, weirdly dressed and uncomfortable, you know nobody has believed in them for while.
Causes Linda Hunter Supports