Friday, September 6, 2013

Goody Two Shoes

A few weeks ago, I hosted my co-author on a new book project at my home in Boulder, so we could begin outlining the story of how he gave one his kidneys to a woman from Ethiopia, whom he’d never met. Just because.

Harold is tall and affable and has a bushy grey mustache that dominates his face. He’s the kind of guy you meet once and feel as though you’ve been pals forever. He met his wife on a blind date and recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. He has a daughter, whose artistic creativity he regularly showcases on his Facebook page. He works with his best friend from high school who was the other half of the class-clown duo, their late ‘70s “Joke of the Day” morning program a huge hit until banned by the principal for overstepping the line.

Harold chaired his neighborhood’s annual blood drive in Virginia for years until he and his family relocated to Los Angeles, where he launched a new neighborhood blood drive program. And in between the blood drives he coordinates, he commutes to his local Red Cross to donate blood every eight weeks. Like clockwork. Just because. 

To put it succinctly, he’s a true mensch.

Since first encountering the force for good known as Harold, I’ve had the privilege of also meeting the recipient of his gifted kidney, a diminutive and soft-spoken woman who immigrated to the U.S. in 1987 and then spent more than a decade on the kidney transplant list. That the paths of these two conspicuously dissimilar people crossed in a manner so profound makes their saga a true love story, not in the romantic sense, but in the unconditional sense the Greeks called “agape”—a selfless love that neither demands nor expects anything in return.

While Harold and I were writing together at a coffee shop during his recent visit, a woman whose misfortune was apparent approached the outdoor area where he and I sat with our laptops. Her weather-worn skin and long stringy hair piled haphazardly atop her head suggested a life hard-lived. Wearing thread-bare jeans and a ratty faded print top, she looked directly at Harold, as if deliberately selecting him from the array of people that filled every table on the patio. 

“Excuse me, sir,” she said, her gaze never wavering. “Could you give me some money so I could get a meal?”

Many of the coffee shop’s patrons—myself included—had turned to face the woman during this encounter, but quickly returned to their laptops and books and lattes once they heard her request. Not Harold. Without fanfare, my giant altruistic buddy stood and walked to her side, discreetly pulled a ten from his wallet and engaged in a brief and muted conversation before returning to our table. Before I could say it, Harold cut me off. “I’m not a goody two shoes. I’m not.”

“Uh-huh,” I said, smiling playfully because I’d just witnessed yet another example of this man’s kind and gentle approach to having an impact in the world. “That woman,” Harold said, “that’s my mom. That’s my wife. That’s my daughter.” And I got it. I totally got it.

I believe this essence of agape dwells within us all. It’s there. It’s real. And in giving expression to it—as a pint of donated blood, or a ten dollar bill for food, or any number of other ways—we multiply its impact exponentially. 

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Download a PDF of the first 4 chapters of Lauren's memoir, Zuzu's Petals: A True Story of Second Chances, free.  Click here and go to the link below the "Buy the Book" button.  Zuzu's Petals is also available on Kindle and Nook.  Hardcover signed and inscribed copies are available at Happy reading!


  1. What a lovely blog and a wonderful man. So what is wrong with being a Goody Two Shoes? Like who cares what people say, you know? We have to be true to what we feel we want to do.

  2. Thank you, Harold, and good luck on the writing.

  3. Harold sounds like an amazing human being, one that you've had the good life fortune to connect with. Thank you for sharing him with us.