You know, you try to live your life in a mild-mannered way…unassuming…normal. Then fate has its way with you and the next thing you know you’re a superhero.
I’ll spare you most of the gory details, but as part of my membership in a fantastic group of Public Relations practitioners, I attended a conference in the magnificently southern city of Charleston, S.C. A capstone of the conference was dinner at a lovely restaurant a mile or two from the hotel. As is my custom when I find myself in a strange city, I decided to walk by myself. As is also my custom, I only had a vague notion of where I was going and took little care to ask if my foot route was safe after dark. (Yes, I have unwittingly taken my life in my own hands many times due to this idiotic predilection for wandering. To spare a dose of the stink eye from my bride I’ll refrain from listing the places; suffice it to say I should be more careful.)
Before I embarked on my stroll I passed through the hotel lobby where complimentary hot herbal tea was available. Waving at a couple of our conference speakers camped out on comfy couches in the lobby–no doubt waiting for a taxi or at the very least a large group of companions with whom to sensibly walk to the restaurant– I took my hot tea in a paper cup and struck out to explore before dinner.
Besides the usual shops, hotels and banking institutions I discovered a lovely, decrepit old church cemetery and lingered a moment in the shadows–Moon Over Bourbon Street playing on my mental jukebox. A few persons unknown passed by, taking my odd behavior in from the corners of their eyes. I rejoined my route to dinner.
I had just passed an entire block of closed upscale shops when a man in a hooded sweatshirt approached me. He wasn’t belligerent in an overt way. Instead he seemed to be going for “menacing without obvious intent.” That is, when he asked me for my money, he didn’t produce a weapon or lunge at me; but his tone of voice told me he wasn’t asking me to donate. He was telling me to without actually saying “Give me your money or else.”
I raised an eyebrow, took a step back and said. “I’m not carrying any cash,” and fell silent. I’m no action hero, but I have been known to stare down trouble. (Once, I sent back my eggs at a certain national breakfast food chain knowing full well they might not come back spit-free. That’s how I roll.) So in the silence, it occurred to me that what I was carrying was a hot cup of herbal berry something-or-other. Yes, if the man made any sudden moves, he would get the Celestial Seasoning of his Life. I held the tea to my lips, conspicuously blowing the steam off the lip of the cup.
The face underneath the hood grunted, “You sure you don’t got any money for me?”
I replied that all I had was a cup of tea. Very hot tea. My eyebrow–sensing a need–raised itself again.
The menacing man grunted again and walked away, muttering.
I quickened my pace and walked a few more blocks. I’ll reiterate: I have a wife and daughter who depend on me for smart-aleck remarks and the occasional home repair. This sort of meandering in the dark was not a good idea–even in the gentile South. Still, I felt pretty good–I got out of it with my money and my life–almost like a superhero without the cape.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, I related the details of my run-in to my colleagues. My pal Barb Harris (who is quite the wit and one of my favorite people) found the entire story hilarious. I guess it is a little ridiculous, but really, it’s what transpired. I fought off a mugger with herbal tea.
Barb also finds my distinctly Spockian eyebrow raise–which I initiate without significant provocation–amusing. She has more than once made reference to it and the fact that after a couple of drinks at the hotel bar I was unnerved by the unrelenting gaze from a painting of a horse (that is another tail, er, tale).
T-Whiz is a mild-mannered superhero that can take down a potentially accosting criminal with just one cup of tea. His green super hero suit is quite fetching, and he can stun anyone just by raising his eyebrow. He rides a horse that he has a portrait of hanging in some bar somewhere in Charleston, South Carolina. When not fighting crime with hot beverages, he is partying hard and drinking vodka and Sprites. Of course, he never drinks and rides…
(Artwork courtesy of Barb’s talented cousin John Aardema/inkyboy)
So, G Whiz readers, let the word go forth on the mean streets of whatever city you dwell…if criminals meet a man riding a trusty steed while enjoying a steaming paper cup of hot tea, they’re gonna get burned–and not just by a raised eyebrow. Some think T Whiz is whistling past the graveyard…but it’s actually a tea kettle.
Move over, Iron Man. T Whiz is in town.