Posted by: MC | October 2, 2011

Mr. Prude – III

“I didn’t make the second cut.”  Mr. Prude was smiling.

We’d run into one another again in the crosswalk on Sandy Boulevard and I’d turned to walk with him back toward the dialysis center.  We stopped to stand on the sidewalk just beyond the old Barber Babes (EX:C blog, “I’m Not Done Yet,” 5-21-2011).  Mr. Prude had been telling me about being just back from Joseph, OR where he’d spent a week with his 97-year-old Nez Perce grandfather.  “He always reminds me of who I am,” Mr. Prude said.  “Not like I forget or anything, but it just goes so deep out there on the land, in the language and with him.  Yeah, we talk Nez Perce and he only calls me by my Indian name.”  He looked out toward the passing traffic.  “Nez Perce on my mom’s side, Jamaican on my dad’s,” he said.  “It’s a good combination.”

There are at least two reason’s Mr. Prude was smiling when he told me about the second cut.  The first is context – his talking of his grandfather, the way the feeling of that time radiated from him like the gentle morning mists rising off warm rivers in these days of early autumn.  The other reason for his smile is simply a fundamental aspect of his nature.  Mr. Prude is a man who chooses from minute to minute to see and feel and live the delight of being alive.  It would be easy for him to choose otherwise for any number of reasons, not the least of which being the demands diabetes makes on his body, on his time.

“Yep.  I was down in LA the week before,” he elaborated.  “Started out my time on stage with Al Green and went through three rounds.  I almost made it, but the younger hip hop guy on the judging panel voted me out.  I don’t know any of that style – hip hop.”  The follow-up to Mr. Prude’s American Idol experience (EX:C blogs, Mr. Prude – I, 7-16-2011; Mr. Prude – II, 7-23-2011)  was a week of glamour and performance in Hollywood.  I’m just assuming the glamour part, because Mr. Prude didn’t say anything about that.  “But I got past the Brit!” he beamed.  Simon had liked his singing and his style.  They had talked afterward and Simon connected Mr. Prude with a man who does a similar but less well known show based on groups.  “Maybe me and guys will go for that one.  Who knows?”

“I talked with Randy, too,” he continued.  “We get along, me and Randy.  He was one of the Spinners there at the end, before they broke up.  The youngest one and maybe the last one to join.  He was 19 or something.  Randy told me to do what I can to get to a Kool & The Gang concert, to pay the money for a ticket in one of the front rows and get back to see them.  He told me, ‘You just walk in the room, sit down in a chair, and start singing Joanna.  They’re looking for someone to do harmony, and you sing this music the best of anyone I’ve heard in awhile.’”

I love this story because it’s a great story, but I love it most because of its optimism, its presence.  I guess what I mean is that we hear lots of cynicism and bad news.  LOTS.  Mr. Prude, like all of us, has every opportunity to slide into that well-worn and way-too-comfortable way of talking and seeing; but it’s almost as if that kind of perspective on the whole experience of walking the planet as a human being isn’t within the realm of his way of knowing.  With that kind of view on things he gets into conversation – into connection and relationship, however temporary with people like Simon and Randy, with the Native American nurse at the dialysis center, with the bus driver and the people down on their luck who live on the streets or in the lower-income housing where he lives.  Optimism and presence.

“So, what have you been up to?” he asked.  I told him about the 100 Voices book, invited him to the release events, told him I wanted him to meet my mom.  “I’d like that,” he said, “and about the book, that’s good.  You’re the kind of revolutionary we need around here.”

Takes one to know one, I say.  Mr. Prude – a lifelong student of his grandfather, his mother, and his dad is also a good friend.  He’s a good guide, a good model and a he’s great teacher.  In our new friendship we make quite the pair – a marine and a professor – Love warriors on the ground.


  1. What a great post Mary. Inspiring and necessary! I can’t wait to see the book and am planning to spread it around to other “revolutionaries”. I saw this link today in the NYT and thought you would like reading it if you haven’t:

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