The Silver Fox

Mike Wieringo was, let us be honest, a very good looking guy. He was substantially tall with broad shoulders and, of course, his remarkable smile. He had a presence that was both startlingly unassuming and vaguely imposing at the same time. It was a presence unique in all my varied experiences of meeting many, many highly varied types of people. Mike was simply Mike. I would say he looked like Will Ferrell, but, in my world, Will Ferrell always looked like Mike. I would watch Will’s movies and I would constantly be remembering something funny Mike had said…I always felt Will Ferrell could crack me up without saying anything, and that was because I saw Mike instead of him. Mike could make you laugh with the most innocuous expression or line of dialogue; he was just one of those people. Well, anyway, another major feature of Mike’s life was his hair. He went prematurely grey. In fact, I really can’t remember him without salt and pepper hair. The hair was probably Mike’s most unusual feature, since he went partially grey so young. But it just made him more distinguished, really.

All this leads to one of my favorite stories from Artamus Studios, one that I wasn’t even there to witness. Turns out that Mike and the guys had gone out to eat at this diner and one of the waitresses had taken a shine to Mike. Mike was always very proper with women, even to the point of overt shyness on occasion, and I imagine she picked up on this and was flirting/toying with him. Anyway, at one point, much to Mike’s great embarrassment, she called him the “Silver Fox”. Which, since it embarrassed Mike, meant it greatly amused the rest of us. I personally had many occasions to drop a line like, “Well, I dunno the answer to that…Why don’t you ask the Silver Fox?” (at which time I would point at Mike). Mike would reliably give me a look that promised retribution, which he could come up with in many deviously funny ways. It was probably the only thing like a nickname I can remember giving Mike, and it really was so perfect, because it was really in no way insulting. I mean, what man wouldn’t want to be called “The Silver Fox” (sincerely, of course!) once or twice!

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