I was seated inside a booth in a fashionable hotel bar. I was waiting with my then boyfriend for another couple who were joining us for dinner. It was late afternoon almost 5:30 when he walked in. He was wearing a hoodie underneath a dinner jacket the hood was up on his head. The bar was quite dim lighting was low and it wasn’t easy to see his features but I happened to look at his face as he passed and was shocked to see it was the same shape as the Elephant man, he had the same disease Neurofibromatosis. I noticed that one of his eyes seemed to be dangling down near the bottom of his chin. I controlled the gasp but I did gasp as he passed. My boyfriend didn’t see him and would not be able to because the man sat directly behind our booth. I was suddenly so sad trying to instantly imagine what life would be like to have such a devastating condition that cannot be easy to live with. He like John Merrick (the elephant man) had the most melodious beautiful voice I was mesmerized. I couldn’t help but listen to him; it was a meeting with a lawyer who was concerned about how he would get back home. The man let the lawyer know that he preferred traveling at night less people on the subway.
The couple we were meeting arrived and we shoved off to dinner elsewhere. I wondered what his life was like and how hard it was to have a body that was grotesquely deformed. We who are “normal” have no idea what life is like when children scream and adults gasp when they catch a glimpse of him. This was Toronto in the late 1990’s. Canadians are kinder or better mannered and I like to think stare less. Still there is always one who is an ass no doubt.
I wanted to stare at him and examine his face his features but I could not I could only try and understand the big picture the broader perspective. If there is a god that loves us as we are told in every religion then the logic should go that there is a good positive reason that this man with the deep sweet voice is living a life that will serve his highest good. I need to think this because if there is a God and he isn’t all loving and the deformed man with the acute intelligence and the gorgeous insides suffered for what? I like to think hardship is asked for so we can evolve and become more whole. I like to think that life is the only place where the rubber hits the road and our souls evolve. In the after life there is no such growth or it isn’t as swift. People with this condition don’t live long and I am grateful for that it cannot be easy living life with that.