It’s Fun Friday, and since work continues to be stressful this month I thought I would take a moment to tell one of my favorite stories of the workplace. That and I just told it to someone live and in person, so it’s on my mind.
So at the job I worked before the one I have now I had a really good friend, Kyle. Kyle used to drop by my cube to hang out now and then. Possibly because his desk was tucked way the heck back in the corner where no one ever went. Anyhow, we used to have some terrific conversations about things. He’s a fun, deep, interesting guy.
Kyle is gay, which was fantastic because we had the same taste in men. He also loved my cousin Jake, which was really what got the original conversation going. What conversation? The conversation about how we shared a love of Daniel Radcliffe.
This, of course, was back in the day when the lovely Mr. Radcliffe was still mostly Harry Potter. But I recall there was a lot of speculation between Kyle and I that he would someday break out of the HP mold and become a big star. We always knew he had it in him.
Then came Equus.
Now, I don’t know if any of you remember the hype that surrounded Daniel Radcliffe doing that play. (The fact that as I wrote that sentence I accidentally typed the word “dong” instead of “doing” says it all). The promotional pics that were being released leading up to the opening were a steady progression of less and less clothed Daniels looking very grown-up indeed. It was such a tease of a campaign. But it did the job. All that people could talk about was that Harry Potter was going to get naked on stage!
Kyle and I knew there was going to be a Naked Daniel Radcliffe Picture. The people marketing Equus had even announced the date it would be released. I looked forward to it with about as much maturity as a school kid who had been told there was a hole in the wall in the boy’s locker room but who had to wait until after class to take a peek. Yep. That was me.
And then the day came.
Kyle bounced into my cube with his ever-present coffee cup and said, “Did you see it?” with a glimmer in his eyes.
“No! I haven’t had a chance to yet!” I replied with giddy disappointment. “And I’m NOT looking at it from my work computer!”
“Okay, but you have to see it,” he teased and walked away.
Sure enough, that night I went looking for the Naked Daniel Radcliffe Picture. It wasn’t that hard to find. I did an image search for “Daniel Radcliffe” and my computer screen was instantly flooded with naked. I giggled. I blushed. I looked at the picture at full size, took a good look, and then closed the window while laughing like the doofus that I knew I was.
I saw Daniel Radcliffe naked!
The next day I went in to work and waited for the inevitability of Kyle showing up at my cube. Sure enough, before ten minutes had passed he was there.
“So did you see it?” he asked.
“Yes!” I replied with a giggle, blushing furiously.
“Well? What did you think?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t have much basis for comparison. What do you think?”
And then Kyle uttered a phrase which will forever stick in my memory: “Well, length is average, but there’s some considerable girth there.”
I died. I must have turned about eight shades of red and laughed myself under my desk. I mean, seriously! What a silly thing for two people to spend time discussing over their morning coffee at work. And I swear we weren’t being pervvy at all! No really!
See, we all have a unique relationship with the people we work with. Those relationships exist somewhere in a fuzzy gray area of friendship. Too many work-buddy relationships are situational and limited. Or maybe that’s just the way things are. But just because you don’t see someone outside of business hours and just because that friendship stops when you move on doesn’t mean that people don’t play a hugely important role in your life.
That job was a really tough work environment. I mean, I worked customer service and spent all day being yelled at on the phone by disgruntled customers. Kyle was my sunshine and my breath of fresh air. So what if we bonded over a naked picture of Daniel Radcliffe? It wasn’t about the girth at all. At least not for me. It was about silly shared interests and finding joy in little things. Or average things at least.
Kyle once said something else over lunch one time that I have carried close to my heart all these years. I asked him why it was that the gay men that I had known were always the nicest, sweetest, most wonderful people I’d met. He paused and corrected me to state that they were either the nicest or the craziest, most awful people you could meet. Why? Because when you realize at such a young age that you are so profoundly different from what society considers normal or acceptable it forces you to do a lot of painful introspection. The effect of that introspection is either to develop a greater compassion for the people around you or to go completely crazy.
Those words have always stuck with me to the core. I may be straight, but I also knew from a very early age that I was profoundly different from what everyone around me growing up considered acceptable. And Kyle was right, that does cause a lot of introspection. I can only hope that I have used those reflections to become a warmer, more compassionate person, like Kyle.
So when I see this picture I don’t see something salacious or tawdry or provocative at all. When I see this picture I am reminded of the simple joys for friendship. I’m reminded of a goofy inside joke that brightened my day five or so years ago and continues to make me smile even today. And yes, Kyle, whenever I see Naked Daniel Radcliffe I think of you, my friend. And I always will.
[P.S. Anyone tempted to leave a comment informing the the picture is a fake, please don’t bother. That’s not the point of the story.]