I’m still not ready to speak of condescension….but I will continue on with  Charming Eddie stories…again, for background…when I do get to the condescension tales.

When I was four, my brother was five and my sister was seven there was a talent show at the park directly across the street from our house.  We had a few weeks notice.  Vickie and I began immediately.  We decided to lip sync to the song from My Fair Lady…The Rain in Spain.  She took the part of the professor and I did Liza Doolittle’s.  We practiced and practiced.  We were hilarious.  Fame and fortune were ours.

Eddie had signed up for the talent show, but was never seen practicing.  He would not tell us what he was doing.  We mocked his talentlessness.  He pounded me.

The morning of the talent show was a flurry of activity as our mother tried to transform my sister into Rex Harrison and me into Audrey Hepburn.  Ed put on his plaid flannel and jeans…unphased by any sort of pressure.

Before we left for the park Vickie and I decided to practice one last time.  We put the album on the record player and the needle simply skipped right over the song.  We had played it so often we had literally worn away the grooves that had held the words and melody.  We couldn’t believe it. We didn’t have time for our mother to go find another copy.  The talent show was happening, and we were out of it.

We wailed and gnashed our teeth…but the album was a goner, and we had sunk from sure winners to audience members.

We watched as unprepared teens lip synced “The Bloody Red Baron” and small children did impromptu dances and cheerleader wanna-bes threw and missed batons.  It must have been a slow news day because a reporter and photographer from the local paper were there.

It never even crossed our minds that Eddie would perform…but suddenly the name of the last contestant was called, Ed Clark.  “He changed his name?” I wondered.

Out he walked with a piece of red construction paper folded in half to resemble a book.  He simply took the stage.  Some adult adjusted the microphone to his chubby little height.  He then put one hand in the pocket of his jeans, held the folded paper as if it were his music and sang “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”  He didn’t have much of a voice, but he did have a lot of volume and enthusiasm and confidence.

Vickie and I could not believe how lame he was, and yet, when he finished, this horrid turn of events occurred in silent slow motion: the crowd went wild, the announcer deemed our stupid brother the winner and the flash of the photographer’s camera started illuminating his victorious face.

Vickie and I sulked the rest of the day and night.  In the morning, right where our picture should have been was a huge picture of Ed singing, one had in his pocket, holding a piece of construction paper.  The headline?  Of corse it was simply, “Ed Clark Wins Talent Show.”

That’s the kind of charm he had…and has…and encourages others to fight for him when there is no battle…to advocate for him when he is perfectly capable…and to continue the lifetime’s worth of annoyance I have for his charm.