Sometimes doing street work someone casts a little hate on you. It happens a lot when you mime in the United States. (I’ve heard all kinds of derogatory comments from “Mime’s suck!” to “All mimes should be shot!”) I suppose I should blog about that. But not today!
I had just arrived at a new corner, behind Great St. Mary’s church in Cambridge. Usually when I’m just settling into a new location it doesn’t matter what you do. People who saw you coming don’t have any reason to give you the time of day, let alone money. So often I just hit a statue, conserve energy, and wait until people pass on by and I gain the home court advantage. When doing statues, it helps to zone out.
I was just a few second into this semi-comatose state, when three young people coming out of the market across the street began whispering about me. I missed the first comment, not realizing it was about me, but heard the boy in the group say, “Throw a rock and distract him!” Followed rapidly by a throwing motion (this I’m seeing out of the corner of my glazed eye…)
I don’t encourage bullying, but since the buffoon is one of mime’s progenitors I decided to break my young statue and pretend as though his invisible rock struck me, and knocked me into a deep back bend. Kids catch on quick, and it wasn’t a second before he threw another “rock.” This I ducked.
I don’t mind being the butt of a joke, but there’s a line when it comes to mime abuse. Quickly I donned a baseball glove and caught the next two flying objects, playing with them like balls. With no end to the barrage in sight, I decided instead to erect two panels between the kids and me. Now it was a game.
The kids realized what was happening and called friendly taunts to their buddy, “Oh oh, he’s put up a wall!” I teased the kids a bit, sticking out my head a few times and ducking back to safety. I leaned on the wall. And pushed it. I showed its top edge, and jumped up and down to see over it.
Realizing invisible projectiles weren’t getting anywhere, and that they’d gotten a sporting show, one of the trio finally said, “We should put some money in, now that you’ve thrown rocks at him!”
I was pleasantly surprised. And here, I thought, the conscientious one of the group will put something in. But to my surprise, all three of the kids approached and dug change out of their pockets, and dropped it in my hat, even with a grin or two!
A rude encounter ended in friendly respect.
To these three I bowed deeply; not everyone let’s their hearts be changed. Exchanging a negative heart attitude for a positive one is a noble and admirable human trait. In some places it’s called repentance. I encourage it wherever I can.
Knowing I had made three friends, instead of three aggressors, brightened the world, just that little bit more.