Fiction begins with real life: the story of a rapping guyPosted: December 9, 2013
When I was in high school, there was a talent-type show in the auditorium. The student council performed a skit. I did some stand-up comedy poking fun at the school. One guy rapped.
Now, this rapping guy was notorious around the school. He was the type of teenage boy who thought he was cooler than he actually was, and thought he had more buddies than he actually did. He tried to wear a gangster image that fit him like a cheap Halloween mask. This guy didn’t spend high school crammed into a locker or anything — but his name was certainly a punch line among the student body.
So this guy got up on stage and began his rap. He made a decent rapper, in my thoroughly amateur opinion. But that wasn’t the issue. It was the sheer fact that he was on a stage in front of the whole school, nonchalantly wearing this persona that everyone made fun of. It was a firing range. Some kids booed. A few threw fruit, paper wads and whatever else their school bags could provide.
As a sandwich came flying at his head, the rapper stopped his performance and caught it. He was done rapping. Even he could tell it wasn’t going so well. But he stood there and took a bite of that sandwich. The tables had turned: the rapper had a free sandwich and the thrower was presumably missing some of his lunch. I saw it as a turnabout, anyway, or maybe even a victory — even though the rapper walked off the stage with people still heckling. That classy sandwich catch raised my respect for the rapper considerably. Hey, if you can manage that level of aplomb, then do whatever you want and let the haters hate.
I would have forgotten that rapping guy along with many other high school. But a few years ago, while I was waitressing at a little sushi restaurant, the rapping guy turned up as a customer. I’m not sure if he remembered me as the stand-up comedy chick (or as anything else). All I did was take his order and bring him some food. I didn’t see a reason to bring up long-gone high school, because it’s not like I knew him as a person. I know him for that inspiring scene he made. By catching a sandwich, he lodged a scene in my head — one pinned in place with the kind of character tropes and morals I associate with books and TV shows and video games, not real life.
But inspiring things happen even in our ordinary lives, and they gain meaning when we think about them. Characters walk among us. There’s potential fiction everywhere.
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