One thing about Charles was his fearlessness. I'm sorta’ careful. He sorta’ wasn't. I liked that. If you’ve read my CATastrophe blog (here at www.heygodyescharles.com or on my FB author page), you know how his fearlessness translated into more concern for an injured cat in the middle of a busy two lane road than worrying about the danger of positioning your car sideways in that road until you can pull off a rescue. It could also go deeper.
Once we did not recognize our somewhat reckless daylight parking decision until we walked out of a restaurant later that night right into a dark and deserted alley. Deserted-- except for the scary guy who approached out of nowhere and stopped us. Charles positioned himself in front of me and alternated every next sentence between talking to the man and telling me to get in the car. I was rooted to the pavement as surely as if I'd stepped in a pothole of fresh tar. After the fellow got around to asking for money and directions, Charles handled both requests calmly and efficiently and sent him on his way. When we both finally did get in the car, I said, "I thought he had a gun." Charles, as exasperated as I rarely saw him, said, "I did too and the next time I tell you to get in the car"…well, let’s just leave the rest of that conversation from my fearless husband to your fearless imagination.
Most of his boldness was less dramatic of course. For a kid or a cause, he was happy to don multicolored wigs or grass skirts or suit up in Big Orange attire for a dunking machine. And because he feared nobody, he knew everybody. Once, in Sitka, Alaska, we rounded a corner and heard a shout from half a block away…"Heyyyyy Coop!!" Really? Sitka, Alaska? Mostly I just shook my head.
On one occasion, we were privileged to attend a wonderful play in New York City. I went to the ladies room at intermission, only to come out and find him standing in the back, chatting with Paul Harvey. I always figured the famous Mr. Harvey was glad to finally get a chance to meet Charles Cooper. The time he made immediate friends with a guy he immediately envied makes me laugh the most.
“Hey, God? Yes, Charles.” mentions that we traveled in a motor home the year before Charles died. In that regard, I have to say we were both fearless because if ever a “….for Dummies” book was written for us, that was it. We knew nothing about driving a 40 foot house on wheels with jeep in tow. THOSE stories are endless. But this one started when we were walking in the park where we’d landed for a few days and Charles spotted this guy on a ladder - with a bucket and a long handle brush - lovingly washing and spiffying up the front of his bus. Charles’s big blue eyes got bigger. I should have known. About an hour later, after I came inside, I looked up to see my husband on the other side of the windshield. He was perched on a ladder he didn’t own, with a long handle brush he didn’t own, dipping into a bucket he didn’t own. I stuck my head out of the door with a quizzical look. Charles assured me his new friend was delighted to share.
I hope fearlessness rubs off. The older I get, the more I try to be less like I am and more like he was. I want to meet the folks who have buckets and brushes and ladders and see if they're delighted to share.