A few weeks ago a group of us were sitting around our table telling stories and one of my friends pointed out that I was surrounded by characters. I’ve heard this before, but it did make me wonder – am I drawn to colorful people, do I bring out certain outrageous qualities or do I simply create them to fill a part in a story? and if I was creating them, what did it say about me?
I spent the next couple of weeks, during those quiet moments, making this a fairly big deal in my head. I like to prod and probe through the murk that makes up “me” on the off chance there’s something new to learn. It’s a great game that we introverts like to indulge in. Externally, I was also in the process of taking a few photos for April’s Summer Photo Scavenger Hunt – this is where we have the entire summer to capture a wide range of photos from “toy” to “mystical”. I shared the idea with a few co-workers who wanted to represent “Friendship” and “No” (both photos that are on the list), so I brought in my cheap point-and-shoot to work one day.
That’s when I took this photo of Merl. To put this in context, let me tell you about Merl. Merl has been with variations of our agency for over 35 years. When you mention where you work to people who are familiar with the agency, they typically won’t know the head of the agency or any of the upper echelon, but they’ll always ask if you know Merl and by knowing Merl, you go up in their eyes. He’s always polished, professional and the most knowledgeable person in the room. He’s our “go-to” and our front man. And of all the people I work with, he happens to have the most dry and wicked sense of humor. I don’t snicker, chortle, chuckle or laugh around Merl, I cackle from the bottom of my soul. I suspect people outside of our team get hints of this in meetings (if they’re paying attention), but I always wonder if they’ve ever been fully treated to Merl’s terrific sense of humor.
So, we were setting up his team to take the photo to fulfill “Friendship” and he furiously worked to lick down some red candy to match his team’s red outfits. Unfortunately, the red dye wasn’t transferring to his tongue. I finish taking the photo of the group with their hands overlapping and the next thing I see is Merl laying this fake candle on his head and smiling. I want to say that there was some declaration about being a unicorn, but I could be making that up. I asked Merl if I could take a photo of him with the candle on his head and as you see he was completely willing. This picture makes me laugh for so many reasons – the serene smile, the knowledge that our group are some of the few folks treated to his wit and seeing this highly respected individual, one who I consider to be one of the true faces of our agency, being so absolutely silly.
I’ve decided, I definitely don’t “create” the characters around me. Everyone is a character – it’s just a matter of degree and willingness to share.