I was so energized by these two passengers. It was a very uplifting experience for me and, I believe, for them as well.
An international hip-hop master
My next trip has me searching for my rider along a retail-dense, seemingly endless strip of stores, restaurants and businesses. The rider has entered his physical location—where he is standing—and not an address to which I can navigate with greater precision.
I’m already gathering evidence that this choice by riders to use their actual physical location as the pick-up spot can confuse GPS and Uber’s system.
Alas, I’m in the wrong parking lot … by a hair! My passengers tell me they’ll walk to me, and they trek across a snowy patch between the two parking lots to get to my car.
They’re young, in their mid-20s. One is Black, thin, muscular, good-looking. The other is Latin, model-level handsome, which is a good thing because, well, he’s a model in Miami. I ask him what kind of modeling he does and he says mostly swimwear because, and I quote, I can still pull off the 18-year-old athletic look.
I wonder if by swimwear he means gay porn, but I don’t say anything, and as long as he’s happy and getting paid, all is well.
I tell him I was married for a time and that my then-husband did some professional modeling. He had grayed early and was blessed with height, good looks and an exotic Mediterranean demeanor and vibe. He could pull off the handsome older-guy look while still having a younger man’s appeal.
We talk about how the modeling business is like gambling. Well, that was my experience of watching my husband audition for gigs: getting the call, preparing, driving to the audition, waiting sometimes several hours for a five-minute (or less!) assessment, then waiting for a return call.
The gamble was for the big jobs: the spokesmodel gigs, being the next Marlboro man, or Flo of Progressive Insurance. I tell them that when we were first married, Viagra was very interested in my husband for a very big job.
I tell them how we were both quite excited. How I wondered what it might be like to go out and about, people recognizing my husband as the Viagra guy and wondering if he needed it himself. I tell them how right after the audition for the Viagra gig, Viagra came under FTC investigation for advertising claims they were making at the time. How, just like with gambling, we thought we were going to win the jackpot, but didn’t.
The other guy is from southern California. I ask what they were doing in the area. He was teaching a hip-hop class where I picked them up. His friend, the model, is along for the ride.
Hip hop? Yeah, hip hop. He teaches, choreographs, produces. He has worked with his mentors whom he has most admired many years and has now built his own consulting and production business. Commercials, movies, shows and productions.
He’s working on an international project to bring master teachers to less-glamorous cities and towns throughout the world so that kids can have experiences working with the best talent and trainers. The teachers, students and he all work together for about a month and then do a show for the community.
I ask him about the funding. It’s all coming out of his pocket. I take a moment to reflect on my own income at age 26 and my own vision of what was possible in the world, and I have a fleeting and alternating mix of envy and thrill: envy for a world that simply did not exist—to me—at that age, and joy for a world that has so many more openings and possibilities.
I ask him if he’s going to create a 501(c)(3); this is a term that eludes him. A nonprofit, you know? He knows next to nothing about the tax implications, the structure, what 501(c)(3)s are, why they exist. I share an overall picture.
We talk about corporate funding and his message of youth, hope, dance, expression … and it seems with his Hollywood connections and organizational direction that corporate sponsorships will probably work better.
He mentions that some people in his life think he should settle down and not be out and about so much. I tell them both about the work of Allison Armstrong and Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women.
How, per her work, women are born with Temptress (play), Mother (nurture) and Queen (ruler) energy and can activate any of these energies at any time in their life span; how the female challenge is to find balance and to be all those roles with love and kindness.
How the masculine path is different: how a man must first be a page, then a knight (away from the kingdom and security, out slaying dragons, finding out who he is), then a prince (applying what he has learned, developing his craft and himself), and then, and only then, can he become a king.
I share how the path for men is linear. How he and his friend are doing the best that they can be doing at this point in their lives by being knights; how they are investing in their future selves as kings.
I feel a rush of love for them and the knights they are now and the kings they will become. Their energy and hope is lifted. All smiles. Power is in the air, in them.
We say goodnight. I wish them the best and that all their dreams may come true.
Key experience: One small piece of information may, perhaps, help someone for the better in ways I’ll never know.
Photo by Andre Hunter.