My dinner with Bradon.

9 Mar

A high-school senior who volunteers at the local animal shelter and is training at his local zoo, Bradon loves giraffes. A quick draw on an iPod, he showed me an endless array of photographs of him and the tower of giraffes under/over his charge. Giraffes come in herds, but alternatively, come in towers which I find far more descriptive and poetic. Giraffes live to be about forty years old in captivity, and have agile tongues that wrap around Bradon’s hand like a boa constrictor when he feeds them. They have tough gums for stripping trees of leaves and are playful and loving, much like Bradon who towers above me. (Sorry. Bradon does not strip trees. But he is playful and loving and has eyelashes like a giraffe’s.) The gestation period for a giraffe is a grueling eighteen months at whose culmination the mother will drop the infant to earth a full six feet, shocking oxygen into the baby’s lungs who will be up and walking in about in six hours tops and eating out of Bradon’s hand. Like me. These were the things I learned from Bradon over a burger or should I say burnt Frisbee at the miserably campy and filthy Jekyll & Hyde restaurant in the Village. All the while, cheap animatronics interrupted our conversation, which Bradon seemed to enjoy while I yelled like the Village idiot at the plastic ghouls on the walls and ceiling would they please shut the fuck up so I could hear more about the giraffes.

Bradon is the only student I really like on this trip of theater students. Thirty-two prospective theater professionals and not one of them ever took it upon themselves to ask me what is it like to be a theater professional. Perhaps it is too frightening a thought or even out of the realm of possibility that their spangled futures might take a turn for the worse and they find themselves telling hackneyed jokes to a bunch of brats in a frighteningly unfrightening theme restaurant that serves shoe leather and side dishes of E. coli. Bradon is the one kid without theatrical ambitions which is likely why I like him. He is a gentle giant who had something to teach me that I didn’t already know. He talked with great affection about these beautiful creatures, gesturing with his enormous hands, nails bitten down to the bed, and kindness radiating from his heavy-lidded eyes. Bradon has a nice haircut, I thought to myself, and his dreadful acne will wreak its havoc for maybe one more year. After that, he could be a catch, if the world were kinder.

I spent a very long day walking these kids a total of nearly eight miles all over lower Manhattan. It was as grueling as a giraffe’s gestation period, without the satisfying drop. If pregnant giraffes could talk, I suspect they would say all the whiny boring things I heard all day today in my herd: I’m exhausted. When will we get there? My feet are killing me. Why is this taking so long? On and on with the towering complaints as if I had made an executive decision to cross the Serengeti myself and was willing to suffer a few losses along the way. Everyone chimed in at one point. Everyone. Except Bradon. Bradon did, very sweetly, very kindly, ask me to walk him to a pharmacy at one point so he could maybe buy an Advil, if it wasn’t too much trouble. This was in our seventh mile.

“Are you alright?” I asked him.

“Oh, I’m fine,” he quietly replied. “Sometimes, my knee just gets a little sore where it meets my prosthetic leg.”

Lucky giraffes.


4 Responses to “My dinner with Bradon.”

  1. transparentguy April 2, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    Damn. Well done. You really know how to pack a punch into the end of your pieces.

    • NC Coot April 2, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

      You do that, too. It’s why I like your work.

      People surprise me. They never react the way I expect them to, or are as cruel as I expect them to be. I can’t get over how wrong I always am, and usually, pleasantly so.

      I suspect it is similar for you. You always seem to find a thread of humanity in the unlikeliest of places.

  2. MaryRivesBrown July 11, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    I don’t know how I missed this before. I love this so much.

    • NC Coot July 11, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

      How kind you are. He was an extraordinary young man and touched me to my core.

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