September 30, 2019 - Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

"The journey is the people you meet along the way," said the septuagenarian gentlemen wearing leather driving gloves as he drove me in a black Lincoln from the airport to my hotel in the Pittsburgh University district on an unseasonably warm late-September Monday morning.

We were talking animatedly about life, the universe, and everything, really connecting over, among other things, his Chicago roots and military service in the Vietnam War era.

I looked around to see if I was on some weird Academic Candid Camera (quick: someone pitch that show! Or not)... because I hadn't told the guy about my career as a bard telling the story of the Odyssey and one would be hard-pressed to come up with a quote more relevant to both my vocation and the subject of my song.

I wasn't on Academic Candid Camera (as far as I know) and soon enough the driver left me to check in to my hotel and kill some time before my late afternoon Odyssey show at Carnegie Mellon University.

A couple hours later I was on the shuttle to campus and walking into the beautiful old building that housed the English Department. 

Carnegie Mellon doesn't have a Classics Department (boo!) but I was lucky enough to be asked to come to perform in conjunction with an English class that was reading the Odyssey (yay!).  

The invitation came because of one of those "people I met along the way," a woman named Laura who was part of coordinating my performance at Duquesne in 2017 (in fact, the first show I blogged about here), and now works for the the Carnegie Mellon English Department.

We had a great time catching up and walked across campus to the auditorium in which I was to perform.

Along the way, something caught my eye on the quad: a long, low wall spray-painted with the phrase "ONE MAN IS NO MAN."



I stopped dumfounded. A Greek god himself couldn't come up with a more apt Odyssey-related sign. 

Soon I was set up in the beautiful thunderous hall and the audience filled in. The show felt and sounded great to me, the discussion was wonderful, and following that, Laura, the English professor and I went out to a fantastic dinner full of food and conversation. 

The next morning I led a more in-depth discussion about my performance and the text with the English class, and then we hustled out of the hall to see... my same loquacious driver standing by his car and grinning, ready to take me back to the airport.

"Joe, my man!" he said.

"Theodore, my friend!" I replied, shaking his gloved hand and introducing him to Laura.

The etymology of the name Theodore is Greek meaning "Gift of god."

You couldn't make this stuff up.

Theodore and I rolled out towards the airport, laughing and talking like the old friends we were.

Leave a comment

Add comment