Today, I get to return to the narrative about a subscriber routine. It’s been a really long time (WOW. I just checked and the last one I wrote was about Friend Chris, and I posted it back in July. And it wasn’t even a narrative). Today, I’m writing about Reader Mike, who I should have written about when he first subscribed. At the time, it seemed like I had all the time in the world to work on narratives because STILL GROWING wasn’t… well, growing. We had very few subscribers I hadn’t already written about, and there were two other posts in front of Mike in the narrative queue. Now, I’ve finally caught up and it’s Mike’s turn. (Don’t worry, Shasta. You’re next).
Here’s the problem. I don’t know what to write about Mike. He’s been too much – an encourager, confidant, role model, band mate (yeah Rock Band!), teacher and friend. I simply can’t do him justice. Most of the narratives I could tell about him don’t convey the things I want to convey. With Chris, I wrote down the things I admire about him… things that I’m not, but aspire to be. I guess I could do that for Mike, but it somehow seems lazy (yeah. It was lazy with Chris too. Sorry).
Oh well… here we go. Awesome things about Reader Mike.
1. Mike is willing. That sounds ridiculous, but let me just give you the context. I live with two girls who are both frequently the opposite of willing (not just unwilling… stubbornly opposed). I try to get them to do things with me by talking like I’m reminding them of something they always meant to do. “Don’t you want to go for a run with me?’ “Didn’t you mean to play Halo3 today?” “Don’t you wanna… go to the park?” “…get up early?” “…cook something weird?” “…teach my classes?” “…see who can eat more jalapenos?” “…climb on the roof?” “…whatever?” You see, just about anything can be fun in the spontaneity of the moment. You just have to make it fun.
I think girls in general are the opposite of willing because there are too many variables to control and girls are SUPER self-conscious.
If I climb on the roof, there’s a chance that my jeans will sink down too low and make everyone think I’m a plumber.
I’m not very artistic and if I paint, I will probably just reveal my inability to draw even stick figures well.
I share some of those insecurities with my roommates, but I think something more along the lines of If I jump off this balcony, everyone will have a wonderful memory regardless of how it turns out, it will be really fun regardless of how it turns out, and I might even get to ride in an ambulance.
Mike is like that too… even more so than I am.
“Don’t you wanna (insert crazy thing here)?”
“Sure!” Then Mike adds brilliant ideas to the plan and it becomes even crazier and more fun.
2. Mike is good at everything (except for ping pong). He reads better than the entire English department here at IRHS. He sings better than… I don’t know. If I was musical, I’d have an example. He can help Roommate Amy with her PhD history stuff. He understands microbiology and French. He runs really far and really fast. He cooks amazing concoctions and can tell you which combination of this or that herb will work best with whatever (oh yeah, and he gets the herbs out of his garden). The list just goes on and on. Dancing, gaming, public speaking, biking, laughing, refrencing obscure movies, making hats and glasses out of tin foil, yoga… He could probably build a spaceship, fly it to space, steal the moon, and still make it to the orphans’ ballet recital. Good. At. Everything.
3. When you walk with Mike next to a busy street, he walks on the outside.
4. He knows just the thing to say. I have an unfortunate tendency to bluntly express what I’m thinking. I might be thinking something offensive or vulgar… and I just say it. Mike expresses the same ideas I express, but he does it in more gentle and tactful ways.
5. Finally, Mike listens better than anyone I know. Part of the reason there isn’t a narrative to do justice to Mike is because the magic of Mike isn’t in what happens – it’s in how you feel after talking to him. He makes eye contact and nods at the things you say. He may even end up correcting something you say, but he makes it seem like he’s just expressing the thing you were already thinking. He talks to you about you… rather than about how your problem can be fixed by relating it to this one thing that happened to him several years ago. In fact, it’s sometimes really hard to get him to talk about himself. Still, you feel like you know him really well even after a conversation that was completely about you. You feel important and understood, which seems trivial when I write it out, but it isn’t. So much of life is a feeling of isolation and insignificance. And one of the most beautiful things about Reader Mike is the respite he gives you from those feelings.
*Footnote in italics: I will eventually get back to writing narratives. I will. You don’t believe me, but I WILL.