The other day, my friend Brooks left his hoodie sweatshirt behind when he took off to do whatever it is that he does when he's out of my sight. As I sat there idly looking at his plain black sweatshirt, I got to thinking about him. Brooks is a quiet guy, intelligent and thoughtful. He's not the kind of person who wants to be the center of attention, and certainly not someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. If you want to get to know Brooks, you have to be patient, because you're not going to figure him out in one day. You know how there are some people that you seem to know everything about in the first 5 minutes of meeting them? Not Brooks. But he's so worth the effort. Once you get to know him he's funny and friendly and kind and interesting, and just plain great in general--but upon first meeting him, you wouldn't understand all that, not yet.
And there's nothing wrong with that, of course. But I love Brooks, and I just wish more people knew him the way I know him. I sat there and thought to myself, "What can I do help broadcast the truth about the real Brooks?" It would have to be something people could recognize immediately upon seeing him for the first time, the way a big, broad smile lets you know that a person is friendly and approachable. Then it hit me. I could personalize that simple black sweatshirt for him in such a way that it telegraphed to the world "I am Brooks, and here's what I'm about."
So I did it. I put some vinyl letters on the back of his sweatshirt--just a few concise words, not a whole book-length speech. Just a simple statement to distill my friend Brooks down to the core element of his personality, the thing that really makes Brooks "Brooks." I did it out of love. I am that kind of friend.
And then I had another friend model the new-and-improved sweatshirt so I could get a picture of it for a memento.