The scene opens with six gentlemen sitting around silently—so far
–in a space that can best be described as 70’s chic. The men—representing the talented British actor Richard Armitage as some of his characters are arranged in a three quarter round semi circle—no doubt inspired by one character’s recent theatre experience two years ago—and seated upon multi-colored bean bag chairs of red, blue, brown, chartreuse green, black, and yellow. These are bold colors for bold men. Except, none of the men really wanted to sit on the yellow bean bag chair because they likened it to … something unmentionable.
The men reflect a few of the many incarnations/portrayals of a Mr. Richard C. Armitage, a finely talented British actor of international reputation–and a proclivity toward vascillating facial hair levels.
I walk into the room to serve as the facilitator of this group therapy meeting that we have from time to time—just to catchup and see how everyone is doing.
Gratiana: “Gentleman! I am delighted to see you again!” I smile professionally, by which I mean NOT that I am not glad to see them. But that with so much male handsomeness in the room, a lady—moi—has to remind myself why we are all here. But more about that later.
You will find that these gentlemen’s foibles will arise during their brief conversation–mine already has. I am exceedingly fond of exclamation points (!)! The period (.) is drab and nondescript with the comma (,) garnering only a little more interest. However semi-colons (;) have heft and importance—as opposed to their seemingly less, but more counterpart colons (:), which could be confused for the tell tale tetanus or tuberculosis vaccinations that we endured annually at our grade schools growing up 40 years ago. But enough about me.
Gratiana: “Fellas? Let’s go around the room and introduce ourselves again.”
The shy and retiring big bear of a man John Standring from Sparkhouse shrinks back into his yellow bean bag chair, his lower limbs akimbo as he tries to find a comfortable position. He looks more like multi legged spider—were not the man slightly averse to those creatures. Well move on and come back to him.
Chop: The gentleman stands up from his blue bean bag chair. “I’m Bernard Hare, currently between social service agency appointments.”
Then Chop proceeds to sway his hips from side to side as if dancing to an imaginary tune—and with an imaginary partner, if some of his hip grinding thrust moves are to be blushingly be observed. Oh to be in his imaginary dance partner just now. *trembles*
Gratiana: “Don’t you mean that you portray Mr. Hare’s fictionalized character of Chop in Urban and the Shed Crew?”
Chop: “Who wants to know?” I ask suspiciously. Government agencies want entirely too much information, but provide only variable social benefits to the citizens it is purported to represent and protect.
Gratiana: “Well, for the purposes of our discussion, you are Chop.” He sneers at me.
JohnS: “Oy. The lady merely wants to be clear, Bernard… uh, I mean Chop.” I offer tentatively. I am more used to being around sheep, than people. I know that sounds bad—my being more comfortable with sheep. But I mean it in a good way. Sheep don’t talk back to you, or interrupt you. And their hair is ever so soft. And though I am more partial to pork sausages to eat, it is mostly because pigs are not generally as friendly and don’t let you get close to them like sheep do. Again, I mean that in a good way—being close to sheep, that is. “I am John Standring, sheep farmer.”
Lucas: “Ah! Now, he speaks!” I stay seated in my black bean bag chair. It is sleek and mysterious, just like me. “My name is North, Lucas North.” I look cautiously around the room, wondering who might have a concealed weapon upon their person—besides myself—or maybe who might have an American CIA girlfriend with an annoying nasal twang to her voice that is worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. I am still trying to figure out how to dump that piece of baggage without it creating an international incident. We only started dating a few months ago. And what with having to sheepishly relay to my boss that she and I were sleeping together, shagging. I now regret that—not the shagging, but my having to reveal our shagging due to security protocols. What can I say? I scratched an itch with her—then I promptly developed a case of hives.
Gratiana: “And Mr. Shield, is it?” I turn to the small statured and rather hirsute gentleman to my right. He seems to be more diminutive than the rest of the gentlemen—and thus more comfortable in the bean bag chair seating in blue.
Thorin: “My clan name is Durin. I am Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror. I was bestowed the name Oakenshield for my bravery in battle.” I stare at them all with pride. Then I soften and wink at our facilitator and say huskily. “But you may call me Thorin, My Lady.” Her eyes widen in appropriate awe. Hmmmm. I am quite the ladies man—still waters run deep, you know. Or as in my case, mine shafts run deep.
Porter: “I am Leftenant John Porter, serial # 32675.”
Gratiana: “And your career?”
Porter: “I am not required to reveal anything about myself.”
Lucas: “Then you should assume a different identity if you don’t want to talk about yourself.”
Porter: “I do, often.” I, perhaps, sound rather brusque. But no air conditioning for most of my field assignments will tick off a person. However, I do rather like my desert sands stylist’s way with khaki.
Gratiana: “Very well Gentleman. I have one question to pose to each of you. Your responses should be short and to the point. Then I will release you to your various … activities until next time.” I smile knowingly. “Very well, here is your question. If you could be any other Richard Armitage character, whom would you be? And why? Mr. Standring?”
JohnS: “I guess …”
JohnS: “John Thornton.”
JohnT: “I am honored, Sir. Why?”
JohnS: “You’re a successful business man, philanthropist, and you have a girlfriend. And I am no Sir. But I think that we do have sheep in common.”
JohnT: “I beg your pardon!” I fume with righteous indignation.
Gratian: “I think he means that one of your mills processes the wool that his sheep grow, into fabric.
John T. “Well, that’s alright then.” I have only been to the rural country areas once. And I was not enamored of farm cattle. “Oh and I will also choose Lucas North—because he seems more reticent and considers his statements before saying anything rash.” Lucas merely smiles wanly.
Thorin: Blustering his way back into the conversation, he asks bold as brass. “Must I choose someone other than myself for my response to this unusual question?”
Gratiana: “That is the nature of the question.”
Thorin: “Then I pick John Porter. His explosive projectile war machine—gun– could obliterate a whole army of Orcs.”
Gratiana: “Ah! Now I believe that the only one we haven’t heard from is Chop.”
Chop: “Stupid bloody game.”
Gratiana: “Who said this was a game?
Chop: “Life’s a game—with the outcome rigged against the underdogs.” I state cynically. I am having one of my down days.
Gratiana: I look searingly at the other gentleman. “Do you agree with Chop?” The other men rather grumble amongst themselves. “So what do you believe is important in life?”
Porter: “Loyalty.” He states as one who has been betrayed.
JohnT, Lucas, Thorin: “Honor.” Because they are all men of honorable character.
JohnS: “A willing heart.” I haven’t had a girlfriend yet. Which perhaps explains a lot.
Gratiana: “Thank you gentleman. That was most heartwarming.” There is hope for finding good men in literature/drama and in life. “Until next time.” I wave at them as they stand and depart.
As the men file out of the room, I notice that the bean bag chairs they sat in retain the lasting impressions of the men. Lucky beans.
Collage Image and Character credits via www.RichardArmitageNet.com resources