When was the last time you squeezed the ass of your church's minister? Can't remember? Likely never, I suspect. I know that I've never had the occasion to give it a try and, upon reflection, I'm not complaining. .
When was the last time you were Hulk Hoganed by a minister, caught in a head lock? Some people wrestle with their faith, but rarely with their minister, though it happens figuratively more than you might expect. If you worship at the altar ego of Robert John Burke, then a bum grab and a head lock are not out of the question. In fact, it appears to be the norm. .
Robert John Burke, aka The Naked Cowboy, is apparently an ordained minister, if you can believe what you read in Wikipedia. To say that this piece of research surprised me would be an understatement of Richter Scale magnitude, followed up by a tsunami of disbelief and/or skepticism. You see, I have this preconceived notion regarding the behaviour of god's earthbound spokespeople, and parading around cities in nothing but cowboy boots, tighty whiteys and a cowboy hat doesn't quite jibe with that notion. It's too bad, because a metaphorical naked cowboy is exactly what the church needs, instead of being saddled with frumpy old men in non-western garb. .
It's funny, because this was day two for encountering the Naked Cowboy, such is the luck of the draw when you pass through Times Square. Day one, Friday, was a premeditated stalking of the Naked Cowboy by my diminutive traveling companion, Timmy. Yesterday's encounter was a random act of god, out of my control. .
Wendy and I had visited a music store by the name of Sam Ash Music, located on west 48th street, on the upper haunches of Times Square. This most impressive store sells guitars made by an irreverent American company called Rickenbacker. We'd love to buy our son one of their 360 twelve string models, but all he'll get for Christmas is his two front teeth, literally. A Rickenbacker 360/12 costs about $2700 U.S. so it's not a purchase to be taken lightly. Our son has had some dental work scheduled for 2009, to the tune of $9800 (key of 'gee, that's a lot of money'). We've already forked over four thousand clams for the the titanium posts to be implanted, the remaining five grand will be paid around Christmastime when the two implant teeth are ready to be installed. If it wasn't for this expense, our son would be strumming a Rickenbacker. .
Here's where the guitar dilemma gets comical. I've told Julian that if he wants a Rickenbacker, he has options. Of course he could always get a job to finance the purchase, but as a role model to my son, do you really think I'd suggest a job? Come on. One option is to get the guitar and only one tooth, because each tooth is approximately the same price as a Rickenbacker. Pound for pound the Rickenbacker appears to be a better deal than the tooth. The guitar would make Julian smile a lot, though that might be a problem with only 31 teeth. Needless to say, he'll get the two teeth for Christmas and his parental roadies won't be handing him his guitar of choice...still, he'll be smiling. .
So Wendy and I left Sam Ash Music empty handed, but content in knowing that a Rickenbacker may someday be filling our home, or junior's dorm room, with sound. It's no more expensive than a good dSLR and lens, or a windsurfer, or a pellet stove. We believe in the long term value of music, and a Rickenbacker will deliver dividends that the stock market never could. When my ship sails at the end of a hopefully long and happy life, I wish not to hear the bagpipes, but the Rickenbacker. .
I do expect to live a long and happy life, though I expect to do it with ill fitting pants. Wendy and I crossed through Times Square on the way to Old Navy's flagship store on 34th Street. Old Navy's web site listed pants in my size, though we would discover that their flagship store was being run by pirates. Not one pair of pants my size was available in their cavernous store. I was told by the young sailors at Old Navy that I'd have to order them on-line. It's not easy finding a proper place to put my booty. .
Back in Times Square the Naked Cowboy was sharing his booty with the masses, in every sense. During our first encounter with the Naked Cowboy, on Friday, Wendy wanted nothing to do with him. She refused to hand Timmy to him, or to even get within a pew's length of him, for fear of catching 'something'. During our Saturday encounter with him, she had an epiphany of sorts. Hardly a religious one, but an epiphany nevertheless. As she watched the Naked Cowboy, she saw the joy and happiness that he brought to the faces of the women with whom he posed, and the men who watched. Everyone was laughing and showing their 32 teeth. It was a feel good moment. No longer was Robert John Burke a slimy, long haired, muscle bound, Fruit Of The Loom wearing freak. Wendy saw him spreading joy, and it made her smile and feel good about this fleeting moment in her New York life. .
I suspect that not a soul in Times Square knew that the Naked Cowboy was a minister. He neither spoke a word of religion, nor wore his beliefs on his sleeve. It would have been a moot point given that he didn't have a sleeve to wear it on anyway. Having said that, he most definitely delivered a sermon, of sorts. It was about being comfortable in your own skin (most of his we saw!). How many of us could be comfortable enough with ourselves to stand virtually naked in Times Square? If we could bring moments of joy and happiness to people, could we do it? .
The Naked Cowboy showed us that it's okay to be exposed in a big, scary world. Everything's going to be okay when we finally know and accept ourselves. Beyond being an ordained minister, the Naked Cowboy also has a bachelor's degree in political science. Wow. You simply can't judge a book by its cover, can you?