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watching people touch standees is a weirdly on point analogy for us all

after almost every trip, once pockets were emptied and suitcases were unpacked, miscellaneous things of all kinds somehow ended up appearing. mostly, they were client gifts or odd things they carried around and forgot about. few at that level toted their own ornaments, and offering to hold something before hitting the red carpet usually locked said kind person into ownership.

most adopted finds were the sillier type of things one gets on vacation from a hotel. no one knows what to give their idols of the moment in the moment, whatever the circumstance, and we all seem to misjudge what others want. or can use. will use. but, the laughs the trinkets garnered were usually worth whatever strife was had at airport security.

at a music festival we attended, one of the bandmates of the comedy and music act we hurriedly traversed the grounds with nabbed a life-sized cardboard standee of mr. rogers. it was there with a movie promotion, and its absence was likely felt and dismissed by that staff almost immediately. but our gang insisted that it make the return to los angeles a few days later. that no one wanted the responsibility of ensuring its safe relocation left the duty to me. the corporate minion for whom slinging the odd totem was second nature.

but this folded up likeness was unlike anything i’d brought on board before. anywhere. the attention it drew when it was seen for who it was made of was astounding. and everyone wanted their photo taken with it. lines at the airport gate before we boarded were longer than those to go through security.

it was a weekend day. most people’s day off. alone sans talent left me in a more vulnerable position than i was used to. grabby hands aren’t just wielded on talent, apparently. but regardless of what should be barriers, the unasked for lesson that day was that unless you uphold your own boundaries, outside trampling is likely. nothing that seems obvious holds firm when faced with others’ wants sometimes.

until my m.s. became obviously problematic, the same was subtlety proved to be true in human form as well. it never dawned on me that suggesting hand-washing was necessary. not knowingly in my wildest dreams would i touch someone without first making sure that i was as germ-free as possible. but that’s not everyone.

that cardboard figure was folded in the oddest way. it would stand upright best when it was leaned on something else, but there were greasy grab marks on all its bends, hinting that it had been manhandled when it was moved between rooms. but, like me now, it bent sharply in the waist area, and could not be easily righted. how prescient life can be.

somewhere i read that everything experienced in life is preparation for events to come later. what they will be is one in a grab bag of options, and we typically don’t find out what the experience is for until far beyond that moment in time. we hopefully use what we learned the next time we’re faced with such an encounter. if we have the presence to connect the dots. use the deductive reasoning needed to make the connections.

the word math of comedy bits helps analogies to make broader sense. in a real world kind of way. circumstances that seem akin to foreign gibberish look to be more sound when analogized with an accompanying organic laugh track. taking the time to make things relate to each other is what comedians do. and what we all probably should if we want to truly understand our surroundings. and really, the people in them.

carting that standee first around an outdoor music festival and then an airport after a brief stint at a hotel lobby for goodbyes was oddly enlightening. presumably, had the notable comedian guy been present, the standee would have been mostly ignored in favor of possible photos with him. there is always a hierarchy. but the touchy-feely nature of most of us was maybe more obvious that day.

there is no day off when people want something. whatever it is. and that includes our persons, too. chronic illness is mostly invisible. m.s. famously uses that reality of the disorder as a point of explanation despite its accompanying implications being truly unknown to most who hear that. which only muddies the waters, really.

regardless of the “why” for it, respecting others and their settings is paramount to living a shared life. crowded thoroughfares let this be flagrantly apparent as we endeavor not to run into people. but extrapolating that logic is perhaps our next challenge to meet. how to express love and gratitude without sharing unknowingly tainted hugs and awkward hand shakes.

as with most of the things, it is all probably easier than we make it. simply looking at the deep creases in that figure may have halted those who insisted it fold another way before they manhandled it. asking folks i know and cherish to wash their hands may seem overbearing, but being able to stand is far preferable to the minimal discomfort that arises in the moment.

if this is all preparation for something, it’s a nice thought that makes this life all that more palatable. exciting to experience. like a live game of chutes & ladders, we never know what space we’ll land on that will send us careening back down. so we may as well enjoy the ride. and, as we can, help others to do the same.


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