Sunday, October 30, 2011
First Prize Relinquished
But here’s the interesting note about this Halloween costume contest in St. John’s grammar school in Kingsbridge. The boy who came in second place to me dressed up as a woman. He went the whole nine yards, too, with a fashionable dress and high heels—not some Woolworth-Woolco $2.47 mature woman costume. I’ll call him the K-man and concede that he really and truly merited first prize. But then, it was a democratic vote—at least that’s what we were all led to believe. In retrospect, considering the time and the school, perhaps there was some chicanery behind the scenes and the ballot box was tampered with in some way. However, I don't think so.
Whatever the real truth is, I would like on this Halloween—some three decades later—to at last award the K-man first prize, because—really—he so richly deserved it, not only for the costume itself, but for his audacity to wear it in front of his peers. After all, how old were we then? Ten? My only other personal memory of the K-man involves a certain request of his. He asked me if I would be his straight man in an effort to cheer up a classmate of ours named Karen who, for some reason I don't recall, was bereft and weeping uncontrollably.
Anyway, the K-man, with me at his side—two fourth graders—said to Karen, “Nicholas is ridiculous,” emphasizing the syllabic rhyme. I remember, too, he employed various other rhymes and plays on words to cheer her up, which is laudatory in and of itself, but particularly so considering his young age. While I wouldn't call it a rousing success, I think the K-man’s ten-year-old therapy actually worked. But, if nothing else, it’s testament to his heart and soul, and I am proud to have been his Charlie McCarthy dummy for one brief shining moment a long time ago. I sincerely hope the fifty-something K-man has put this incredible empathy of his to good use on a much grander scale. And, as for Karen, I hope the “Nicholas is ridiculous” moment made a difference—even if only a tiny one. Whatever…this Halloween first prize…transferred finally to the K-man…is, I know, justice delayed but at long last served.