Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Most Beautiful Boy in the World

It's October 20th and because of the rash of recent suicides by teens who were homosexual or bisexual there's a push to talk about the situation and to assure teens that it gets better--life goes on and you reach better places and meet better more understanding people. I'm going to agree with that idea and tell you a little story that I hope will give you hope. It's a bit grim at a point, but it proved to me the resilience of the human spirit and that old adage--"it's always darkest before the dawn"?


I want to tell you about the most beautiful boy in the world...

I was either seventeen or eighteen when I met him. I was at the Renaissance Faire in my pirate garb, peace-tied sword at my side and stiletto at my back, and it was one of the few days I wasn't making trouble for the actors and actresses. I don't remember where my crew was or if I'd gone up without them... I just remember it was summer, I was Muirgheal Brighid Faoltheargna O'Shanahan the Irish pirate lass and life was pretty good.

I was sitting on the benches at the Rose Stage watching people come down the steep hill from the Gate and make their way to the long line of food and beverage stalls that ended in a crossroads at the hill's bottom.

He caught my eye immediately, dressed beautifully in black--a trim build with decent shoulders and the way he carried himself--there was an understated pride and leonine grace about him. He was a brunette, his hair nearly shoulder length with a wave I envied.

And he paused at the lemonade stand at the bottom of the hill--very close to my bench. (You have to understand something about me that I seldom confess--I'm not tremendously brave by nature. At one time there were only a small handful of people who really--really--knew me, and, in fact, I'd have to say the same's true today. But when I was Molly or Muirgheal or Karalinda--I was bold and a touch dangerous. I blame the boots. ;-)

He had paused. He was handsome. I was unencumbered...I had coins in my purse. These things coming together meant I had to buy him a drink. It was destiny. So I kicked out my feet, rose and strode across the hardpacked red clay path toward him. I saw his profile first--an aquiline nose and firm chin--a jaw that was strong enough to devastate a girl's heart. The hint of cheekbones...

He turned to face the wench behind the counter and I slipped between them, setting my money down. "Good sir, I pray ye, allow me to buy ye a drink," I said, looking up to catch his eyes.

He smiled and I managed to keep breathing. And it wasn't his beauty that made me nearly lose my breath--though he was dazzling--it was the scars that sliced up his face and tried to make him less than he was. But I was a good actress--or so I thought. "Thank ye, milady. Tis most generous of ye," he responded.

He followed me to the benches and we began to talk. I was smitten--scars or no scars. He was sweet and gentlemanly and paying attention to me. And I was quick to look beyond the scars (thank goodness), but he wanted to address their existence (and probably clarify that we wouldn't go any further than potential friends). He opened the topic and I opened my mouth and asked, very simply, "What happened?"

He caught my eyes and held my gaze throughout the conversation--the whole time he told me he and some friends had been playing a gig at a gay bar in Philly. He held my gaze the whole time he explained that his friends had left ahead of him and as he headed out into the alley he was jumped by a couple drunk guys from another bar who called him "pretty" and beat him down in that dark alley and pulled out knives to cut the beauty from his face and leave him...bleeding...among the garbage. The whole time his gaze never once wavered from mine.

In that brief conversation he defined courage for me like no one else had.

And his beauty? It was only eclipsed by the bravery he showed by moving forward and boldly dealing with his pain.

I have to admit (and I'm ashamed to do so) that I don't know his real name or even recall the character name he gave me as his own. And, being a dumb teenage girl I had no idea what to say to him after all that other than "I'm so sorry." We chatted a little longer--he must've known something about me had become unhinged at that moment and didn't want to leave me that way--so he did me the courtesy of making small talk. And then we went our separate ways.

But the memory of him has stayed with me for years. And the way he dealt with his attack and came back into his own--beautiful and proud--it made me want to understand people better. To be a better and stronger person myself. So, those of you who know me--really know me--know I can be overprotective and a bit of a bleeding heart (which is disastrous for my sleeve as I tend to wear it there). Now maybe you understand a little bit better why. Our lives are short, the world's too often cruel, but what we do within that world makes all the difference. To us. And to everyone around us.

So if you're being bullied--hold on to him the way I have--know that you can come back from whatever is done to you. Yes, you may need help--there's nothing wrong with that--but don't give up. It matters that you keep fighting. It matters more than you can possibly know when you're hurting. But it does. It matters. You will help make the world a better place in your own time, the way meeting him made me a better girl.

And like he doesn't realize the impact he had on me--you may never fully realize the impact you have on others. But it doesn't mean you should quit trying.

Much love to you all,


Indigo said...

Beautiful! It's so disheartening to see these wonderous souls give up and take their lives. (Hugs)Indigo

Lynsey Newton said...

Awww, I'm astounded by people's bravery sometimes. I love how people can touch your life and stay with you throughout the years without even knowing the impact they made on you. Thanks for sharing x

Shannon Delany said...

Thank you Indigo and Lynsey--it reminds me of the song "For Good" from the musical Wicked. Or vice versa.

"I know I'm who I am today because I knew you."
"Who can say if I've been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed for good."


L.J. Boldyrev said...

Beautiful post, Shannon.

Shannon Delany said...

Thank you, Lacey--I don't often share this story.


Mitzi said...

We affect others in ways we may never know. That's why we should always "harm none." Lovely post, Shannon.

Shannon Delany said...

Thank you, Mitzi. Agreed.