Interview by Mdluchies: The protagonist in Conversations on the Bench is Sebastian. Who is Sebastian?
DC: Sebastian was one of the main figures of Thinking Outside the Boxe. He was in his 50s. He was morbidly obese, but he didn’t let it get him down. He was brilliant. He was quick with a joke and with statistics. He had a mastery of economics and a good grasp of world affairs. He could debate with you.
He could be devil’s advocate. He was a mentor for a lot of folks. He was the life of the party. He had this aura about him. He just emitted this tremendous amount of positive energy. You couldn’t help but like the guy. The women all loved him; they thought he was a giant teddy bear. The guys loved him because he was like a brother to you. He was always a very positive person. He offered such encouragement and support to his friends. He was just a good man and a good friend to a lot of people, particularly his colleague at Thinking Outside the Boxe, Robbie. They were this Mutt and Jeff duo. Sebastian was this loud, garrulous person, large in stature, who was the center of attention. Robbie was this reserved, quiet, but highly intelligent friend who tried to motivate Sebastian to get out and do more after he became disabled and was forced to retire. Thinking Outside the Boxe was Robbie’s way of keeping Sebastian involved, keeping him “in the game” as Sebastian like to say.
Sebastian grew up in Charleston, South Carolina during segregation and desegregation. He was of Spanish, Filipino, French, American Indian descent, so he didn’t feel he ever quite fit in with the whites or the blacks in Charleston. Growing up, he had to try to find his place in a tough world. And throughout his life he would just keep accumulating these very worthwhile life lessons that he tried to share with anyone who would listen, and he found an apt pupil in Robbie. He encouraged Robbie. He gave him advice. He was a confidant. He was like Robbie’s big brother. And when you read the conversations and understand the lessons he was offering up, you really see Sebastian for the warm, caring, and insightful guy that he was. There are very few people like him in the world. If you’re lucky enough to find someone like him, don’t take them for granted. They have a lot to say, and we can learn a lot from listening to what they have to say.