Sometimes it must seem like the weight of the world is pressing down on my stepdad Al. His daughter has Down Syndrome. His wife, my mom Judy, is 13 years older than Al—a fact we didn't find out until they'd been married for a bit. He looked older than his years and I suppose he felt uncomfortable being 4 years older than his stepson. That may have accounted for the fact that he was drunk the day I met him. Which is ironic, because in the 30 years since, he's been one of the most sober people in our family. At his best, Al runs on adrenaline and love. The weight of the world can be heavy when you've got a family and you're working retail. Al's the lead cashier at Temecula's big Barnes & Noble. One of the constants at every job Al's ever had is that his co-workers and customers seem to love him. I think he's missing his calling by not doing voiceovers and being a professional sitcom audience member—his laugh is booming and infectious. His game show contestant ebullience won over Richard Dawson when Al was in the 5-spot during our appearance on Family Feud in the mid-90s. And when you can charm a half-in-the-bag Brit who shuffles through hordes of middle America families while working his craft of game showmanship, well that's saying something. Go, Al!
Do I know you? One man's attempt at a lifelong head count.
NOTE: If you think I might have a photo of you—most likely at least one great photo of you—don't be afraid to ask me to post it (firstname.lastname@example.org) along with a brief entry about how I know you. And if I've met or known you but don't have any photo evidence, feel free to send along YOUR favorite photo of you. (I'm fascinated by what that slideshow might look like.)