In the spring of 1977, the State Champion Mime receives his trophy. After the applause dwindles he removes most of his make up with Noxzema and tissue. He slips out of his costume, striped-shirt, black pants and bowler into bellbottoms, paisley and platforms. He tucks his trophy under his arm and races outside, his heart a scratching dog.
Behind the school, he gets into the drama teacher’s wood-paneled station wagon. The teacher taps his wedding ring on the steering wheel. Like always, they drive to the edge of town, a pullout in the trees by the railroad crossing. They climb in back. Behind them, an aluminum baby seat is tossed next to a bag of groceries, a box of Ding Dongs on top.
The mime nudges aside a crusty Sippy Cup and kneels in graham cracker crumbs on the floor mat. The teacher holds his head, pulls his curls. The mime grips invisible ladder rungs and leaves a grease paint stain on the teacher’s trousers.
When the teacher undoes him, the mime flattens his hands against unseen walls and shouts silent Os. He feels the rumble of the train before he hears the short horn blasts and whistle before he sees the flashing red lights through the windshield before the crossing arms lower and the locomotive and boxcars roll across the tracks.
The teacher tells him he is beautiful. The teacher tells him, “My wife is waiting. The goulash is getting cold. There is going to be hell to pay.” The mime reaches over the seat, opens the box of Ding Dongs, takes one and waves the thick silver coin package as payment for services rendered.
In the fall, the State Champion Mime will go to Paris to study with Marcel Marceau. He will be well known in “certain artistic circles”. He’ll make a decent living from cameos as the street mime in blockbusters. His signature moves will be stepping out of car and wiping invisible crumbs off of his knees. The audience will whisper, “He makes it feel so real.”