Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Pink Professor A Baton Twirler

You might remember an acquaintance of mine. I've written about him a few times. He's a guy they call the Pink Professor, and he really stands out at the Roadhog Roadhouse, a bikers' bar he frequents. You might think they bully him something fierce, but they don't. That was their inclination at first, but it turned out he was fairly quickly accepted and was completely incorporated into the Roadhog family.

He showed them by the strength and quality of his character that he was OK. And that doesn't just go for Pink Professor types, because everyone who's accepted into the Roadhog family has to prove the same thing. For all their rough exterior and seeming devil-may-care attitude, bikers are (not too deep down) people of great sensitivity, tradition, and quality. I know because I've been there too, and am getting close to them, and will probably also be accepted.

You can look up some of my other posts with the tag "Pink-Professor" to see some of the background there, and what it's like at the Roadhouse. Basically, the Pink Professor is a very open and caring and helpful person, stepping in even when the others might think they're too busy to help someone. I seem to remember writing about him teaching some new folks about playing pool. That's the kind of guy he is.

It does my heart a lot of good to see the way things go for him. Because I'm also a kind of bleeding heart, wanting the best in human relationships, regardless of the differences that might otherwise separate us. And some people really stand out, especially at first, before you get to know them, but then when you get to know them, they're people just like anyone else. It helps, I believe, if you wear your sensitivity on your sleeve, like the P.P. does, or like I do, for that matter.

The P.P. will console you if you're down. That's the kind of guy he is. Or he'll give you a playful slug on the arm and playfully scold you if he knows you can take it. I do that too, like with my dog Underbrush. I've got her trained to love -- to absolutely love -- playful scolding and playful threats such as, "I'm gonna get you!" and "You're meat, dead meat!" The P.P. might say to one of his trusted confidantes out there, "Your bike sucks." And whereas the guy would likely kick the crap out of anyone else who said that, to the P.P. he just mimics a slow motion slug to the face, with the P.P. backing up like he's mortally wounded! It's beautiful!

I was out at the Roadhog the other night. Just between you and me, I'm trying to gain acceptance into their circle as well. I want to ascend, you might say, at least to the plateau of being able to tell a biker, playfully of course, that his bike sucks. Then, who knows, maybe I'll be on the receiving end of a slow motion slug. I love doing that kind of stuff with those who know me best -- then "making up" with the darkest beer the bar serves, which usually turns out to be a super expensive bottle of Guinness. But it's just money and you only live once.

Anyway, I was out at the Roadhog the other night, sitting in a booth with the Pink Professor and I kept watching his hand, my watching not apparently noticed by him. He kept twitching and moving his fingers, apparently in rhythm to the music on the jukebox, but almost like he was practicing something, like he had a family-friendly activity in mind that had something to do with his hand. If it had been the other thing, I would've turned my head and given the guy his space. I mean, I've been around, I know what goes on. After all, I'm a disciple of the Indian guru Swami Masturbananda, so I'm not naive. But this hand movement wasn't that.

I thought (99%) that I recognized the gestures. So, after a while, I decided just to be bold and ask him what was going on. One reason, I know he loves it when people ask him what's going on. Because that gives him a chance to shine, to let his beautiful personality play itself out. He got a big grin on his face, almost a guilty grin, almost as if to say, "You caught me! You're too good!" I shrugged my shoulders, as if to say, "You're under constant surveillance, my friend. After all, you've got a reputation!" He shot back a steady look, looking right into my eyes and wouldn't break the stare, as if to say, "Are you sure you can keep up with me?" But I returned the stare, as if to say, "I'll do anything that you do!" Finally, he laughed and waved me off, as if to say, "I surrender," even waving a pretend white flag.

When the chuckles died down, he said, "You're wondering about the hand movements..." I nodded in agreement, for that was exactly what had caught my attention. I didn't let on that I already knew (99%). He said it went way back, to the time he was a kid, to the first group of roughnecks (some of the town boys) he hung out with. Of course they weren't really roughnecks, but that's how they fancied themselves. They'd walk around town looking tough. But they had a very youthful (future) Pink Professor to keep them softened up. ("Back then I wasn't a Pink Professor, just a regular pink kid.") And how would he do this? By pretending he was the group's baton twirler!

Whether it was a stick, a branch from a tree, or just a pretend baton, the group would be walking along and he would veer off into the passing lane and advance to the front, twirling his "baton." The boss of the group -- some kid, and his underlings -- would feel fairly embarrassed about it, but then, like the way it is with roughnecks everywhere, after a while they'd see it as a thing of pride to have their own baton twirler! I nodded in wonderment, for I too was the baton twirler in my own little circle of roughneck boys! And I told him so!

The P.P. reached his hand across the table and shook mine. We really had something in common. I don't know, maybe every little town had a dozen or so baton twirlers. But I was the only one I ever knew about at the time. I had an insulated life and we baton twirlers didn't communicate even from town to town. I just came up with it on my own, thinking, "We need a baton twirler." My best move was to throw the baton up (pretend) 100 feet in the air and wait for it to come down!

I asked the Pink Professor, "What do you think?," then I gestured around the room. This was one thing he hadn't tried -- to be the baton twirler among the Roadhog clientele. They might think it too childish. But I don't know ... maybe if you approached it right, and maybe just started twirling a pool cue for a few seconds over by the jukebox, then a couple minutes over by the bar, then five or 10 minutes over by the pool table, it wouldn't take long before they'd have him twirling something every night.

But the thing is, he doesn't actually know how to twirl a baton (and neither do I, alas, just the air baton). We pretended we were doing it so much, we never really learned how to do it. Speaking now just for myself, I never even owned a baton ... and it's one of the biggest regrets of my life.

Note: If you too were the baton twirling boy in your group of friends, please write about it in my comments.

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