Every small town has one. That rather eccentric soul that walks the streets in a repetitive pattern, that haunts the coffee shop twice a day, and guards the square in between. And this he has done for so long that he has become an icon or town mascot – a talisman of sorts. And the longevity of his appointment, the years and years this has been so, has the rest of us thinking that he leads a charmed life with magic powers of invincibility.
In our small town, our mascot is a thoughtful philosopher of politics and religion. With totally fresh, and never before contemplated thoughts for every day. Oracles from the gods that he is anxious to expound. And for this reason, I’m ashamed to say, so many of us avoid him.
But he might have written the book on public relations. We skirt him because he has the special talent of seducing and solidly magnetizing total strangers into conversing with him. And if you don’t keep a greater than twenty foot distance, before you know it, you are floundering in the middle of a conversation that sinks to the core of your being. I swear the talisman is capable of altering DNA linkages within and the only suspicious telling of that alteration might be a goose bump or two. So knowing this, if you have neither the time, or the inclination, or the fear as I have, you concentrate on a game of out-maneuvering.
And yet, although we avoid him in a physical way, we think of him in an endearing way. As representative of our town, of our people, of what we were before the now…when hope was compact and living was simple.
But only last week, our physically rejected, yet emotionally beloved, mascot passed on. How could such a thing happen to an invincible talisman with more spirit than body form? With a reliability and longevity that suggested permanence? But it happened. And if we were remiss in his life, we were not remiss in his death. The ‘obit’ in the paper did him proud justice.
This is what it said.
“We laughed at him because he was different. He laughed at us cause we were the same.”
When I read that I felt such overwhelming pride in our talisman and such an unexpected sense of loss. He did, for certain, go amongst us altering our DNA in ways that will forever defy understanding.