He was playful, a childlike giant.
We shared M & M’s during class
and conjured ways to humble our
egotistical, arrogant Mensa teacher
in a school of adult students,
at a career-expanding boot-camp.

One day we met for dinner at Trophy’s.
I hadn’t known he was a celebrity Jock
until they announced his presence and
comp’ed the meal. He laughed at my naiveté,
liked that I wasn’t dazzled by his stardom.

Another time, at lunch at the Imperial House,
seated in their high wing-backed chairs,
devices of illusion, of discretion, of anonymity,
heads swiveled and peered unsmiling at us.
At first I thought they recognized him,
until he placed his dark, manicured hand
on my white arm and said ”Leave it alone”
in a gentle warning voice. Fame wasn’t drawing the
attention from these men in penguin suits,
color was – fearful color, a darkness
perceived as tainting their colorless world.

We drove down Imperial Avenue one day,
he signed autographs at stop-lights. Another
free lunch, soul food piled high on plates the
size of platters, in a Mom ‘n Pop restaurant,
a mere mile from my childhood home.

My friendship, without strings or guile,
was like a pair of comfortable slippers
for him. Women usually chased or tempted,
or sought attention from his presence.
But like childhood friends, we talked of
hopes and dreams and of secrets that are
still kept.