The Write Life

10 Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About Me

Clay at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Theme Park, circa not that long ago.

Thanks to the lovely Lecia Michelle for tagging me in this challenge! Here goes, tipping my hand just a little. Hopefully, not too much.

1. I am not a fan of children.

I don’t have the patience for them. They’ve got too much energy and require a ton of attention. They’re not high maintenance. They’re total maintenance. Not to mention you have to think about three moves ahead of them all the time. And they can smell BS a mile away. It’s not like I don’t like “all” kids, just most of them. In all seriousness, mine isn’t an unfounded agita about ankle-biters, my reasons are very founded. I’ve opined extensively (and hopefully comically) about this here. Heaven forbid I fritter away all your time on this on item.

2. I was almost killed in front of roughly 5,000 people.

I’m sure by now you know that I performed for a number of years as a dancing baby teddy bear, Frosty the Snowman, and an elf, in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. But what you don’t know is that on the Saturday night of Thanksgiving weekend 2008, I almost met my Maker in the most expensive elf costume I’ve ever worn, centerstage, at Radio City Music Hall.

Look! Up in the sky! It’s an elf in a plane! Yes, it’s a great shot. I took it. Unfortunately, no one else in my cast could duplicate the shot with me in it. Ugh!

During the Santa’s workshop scene, I flew across the width of the stage in a giant toy plane suspended by cables. That night the cables got tangled mid-flight, and both the plane and I came to an abrupt stop centerstage in front of 5,000 people. Because the plane travelled across the stage at a quick clip, when the plane stopped with me floating in it some twenty-five plus feet above the stage, I swung like back and forth like a pendulum. Rockettes dressed as rag dolls ran upstage so as not to be crushed by falling elf and/or plane. And then to make matters worse, the plane plummeted ten feet, but thankfully, the cables snapped taut and I didn’t crash into the stage. Had that happened, there’s a 99% chance my hips and legs would’ve been shattered and I would have died. Talk about ruining Christmas. I remember thinking, “This is so not what I signed up for.”

The following year, I rode a red convertible across the stage.

You know what’s weird? Out of the 5,000 people who attended that show and dozens recording the show with their iPhones, iPads, et al, I can’t believe footage of the incident hasn’t shown up on YouTube yet. (Come on Internet. Do your thing!)

3. My favorite city is Paris, France.

Chez Clay. Don’t I wish!

How can you not like Paris? The food, the architecture, the art, the museums. There’s so much to see and do; which reminds me, I need to get back there soon.

4. I have never been in love.

(Yes, I’m co-opting this one from Heath Houston, Medium’s resident troubadour de l’amour.) Yep. I love lots of people deeply, and am inclined to maintain friendships beyond their expiration dates, but as for that reciprocated “You’re the One that I Want”-two peas in a pod-“We’ve Got a Love Thang” kinda thing, it ain’t happened yet. Don’t worry, I’m keeping hope alive. Got an available suitor in mind? Let me know — applications are being considered! Shoot me a message and we’ll discuss the short list of criteria.

No! I’m not kidding, people. I’ve only got x good years left, and I ain’t getting any younger!

5. I’m camera shy.

You’d think a former actor would love being in front of the camera. Not so! I’m terribly camera shy. Or maybe I’m self-conscious. Either way, I hate being on the front end of a camera. Yeah, I know it flies in the face of being on stage, but that’s a different experience all together. Go figure. Plus I take great picts of friends, and am probably way too picky about the when, where, and how I’m photographed that only a handful of snaps see the light of day. That preceding Paris pict is one of my favorites of all time.

Don’t get me started on selfies.

6. I stand forty-eight inches tall.

Readers who’ve followed my writing for while may already know this, those new to The Clay Show may not. So that makes me a short-statured individual, a person living with one of over 100 different types of dwarfism, a “Little Person” in politically correct terms.

Something from the “approved” collection of picts.

Which do I prefer to be called? None of the above. I respond best when called by my name.Think about it. Very few people like to be referred to in terms of a label. If you’re wondering how to describe me, “short, black guy with a mischievous smile” pretty much nails it. Keep in mind, while my height is one the first things people notice about it, it’s hardly the thing that defines me. My height is only one facet of my being that has colored my worldview for the better.

7. My favorite meal —

The Capital Grille’s lamp chop lollipops, Parmesan fries, and a mini cheesecake with berries for dessert. And the obligatory Manhattan for starters. Don’t get all worked up, the lamp chops are appetizer-size. And in case you’re wondering what’s so special the Capital Grille’s Parmesan fries, they cook them in duck fat, sprinkle on a little truffle oil, salt & pepper, and shave on a touch of aged Parmesan. Yes, the cheesecake is sheer gluttony, but hey, after everything else, why not? Right!

8. I have driven across the country. Alone.

Not long afer my father died, I knew I had to get out of Orlando. I helped a friend move to L.A. I never wanted to visit there and for the life of me couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to live there. Keep in mind, this was not long after the Rodney King beating, the L.A. riots, the Northridge earthquake, and the O.J. Simpson trial. But I arrived in the City of Angels, and loved everything about it. Less than five months later, I sent the majority of my belongings with another friend who was moving there at the same time, and loaded everything else into my two-seater Honda del Sol. I lied to my mom and told her I was going with a friend, but didn’t tell her till years later, after I moved back to Orlando, that I made trip by myself. The drive was amazing! And the Grand Canyon was glorious. If you have the opportunity, do it — with or without a friend.

9. I thoroughly enjoy knitting.

Look at it this way: one man’s athletic prowess is another man’s arts and crafts skill. I’ve been knitting for years. And if I must say so, I’m pretty good now, but in the beginning … shudders. My aesthetic consists of simple, timeless patterns that show off the beauty of quality yarns. Think cable knit sweaters, throws, hats, scarves.

If you get a handknitted gift from me … know that you hold a special place in my heart. I also make “footies” (footwarmers that look like uber plush socks) for friends who live up north. People go nuts for those. Yeah, I know … too much info.

10. I’m a private person. In public.

I’d never do this sort of thing on my own. I’d much rather talk about all of this over a peppermint mocha (my year round espresso drink) and slowly turn the tables on you. Haha! But I didn’t want to be a bad sport. You want a more unexpurgated version of all this stuff, drop me a line and let me know when you’re going to be in Orlando. Or ask me how you can lay your hands on the tome out there with all the deets.

GutbloomRé HarrisAllan IshacJohn Metta, and Jason Stelzner 🌹🍁, I’m willing to bet that you’re all probably more reluctant that I was to do this, but if you haven’t already, would you indulge me and your readers by sharing ten things with us we probably don’t know about you. I know I’d really enjoy reading your lists. Thanks.

Love one another.