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What if our differences are actually good for us? Short stories of people wrestling with the mystery of others who are so different than them.



#66: Different Together

Note: The Love Thy Neighborhood podcast is made for the ear, and not the eye. We would encourage you to listen to the audio for the full emotional emphasis of this episode. The following transcription may contain errors. Please refer to the audio before quoting any content from this episode. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Love Thy Neighborhood is now on Patreon, which offers exclusive bonus content to members. For just 10 bucks a month, you can unlock bonus interviews, livestreams, eBooks, and more. By becoming a Patreon member, you’re helping us make more of the podcast content that you love and supporting our urban missions program. It’s really easy to join. Just go to We’d love to have you with us as we explore discipleship and missions in our modern times. Again, go to, and sign up today.


AUDIO CLIPS: Love Thy Neighborhood… Discipleship and missions for modern times.

JESSE EUBANKS: So today’s episode is actually coming out on Election Day, and if you are anything like me, you have probably been pretty frustrated by just, like, how divided we all are. Like we are fighting with each other constantly, political parties – but even Christians, churches, you know, all have this different idea of what the good life looks like, what it means to follow Jesus, and it just seems like we don’t even know how to be around people who are different than us anymore – people who think different than us, people who have different opinions than we do, people who might even look different than us. We just don’t even know what to do with our differences. All that to say is that in this time in which we no longer seem to know how to be around people who are different than we are, it reminded me of this thing that we did back in 2018. It was Love Thy Neighborhood’s first – and so far only – live show. It was at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, and we invited a whole bunch of storytellers and artists to get together and to create pieces. They were all about what it means to live in a world with people who are different than we are, and a handful of those folks actually ended up coming to the LTN offices and recording their pieces in the studio. So today – four stories about what it means to live in a world where we can be different together.


JESSE EUBANKS: You’re listening to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. Today’s episode – “Different Together.” Welcome to our corner of the urban universe.


JESSE EUBANKS: Story number one – “The Briefcase.”

I wanna share this story with you about the time that I worked at a homeless shelter. So March 10, 2008, an employee walked out of the Louisville Federal Courthouse to take a smoke break, and unfortunately they would never get to finish that cigarette. And that’s because as they’re standing outside, they notice an accordion-style briefcase near the entrance. It’s just sitting there, unattended. And suspicious packages or boxes – or in this case, a briefcase – found near government buildings usually means one thing – one rather explosive thing. So the employee puts out their cigarette and, following procedure, notifies security and security notifies the U.S. Marshals and the Marshals, along with Louisville Metro Police and the FBI, arrive on the scene. Here’s part of an article from the Louisville Courier-Journal. Quote, “Police used yellow tape to cordon off the building, urging pedestrians to stay at least a block away. Broadway was blocked to traffic between Sixth and Eighth streets, there was some disruption to the afternoon rush hour, and” – listen to this, this is actually my favorite part – “several people also remained inside the American Nail Salon just across Seventh Street from the entrance. Employees also remained inside White Castle on the southwest corner.” End quote. Like why did the reporter feel the need to put that in there? Like, “Just, so you know, there’s a serious bomb scare going on right now, but don’t worry. People are still getting their nails done and eating sliders.” Anyway, once everything is blocked off, they hand things over to the bomb squad. Now, you’ve probably seen someone try to diffuse a bomb on TV or a movie, right? How do they always do it? With tiny wire cutters, a profusely sweaty face, and they can’t ever remember if they’re supposed to cut the green wire or the blue wire. Well, that’s not actually how bomb disposal works. The bomb squad actually uses robots to investigate suspected bombs. They don’t even have to go near the thing.

So the article from The Courier-Journal continues, quote, “The Louisville Metro Police Bomb Squad brought its remote-controlled robot. The robot, which has the name Bud emblazoned on the side, rolled across Broadway and climbed the courthouse steps to take photographs and X-ray images of the briefcase.” End quote. I mean, the thing totally looks like something out of the movie Wall-E. It’s got this robotic arm on the front of it with a camera eye on the end. So Bud gets the pictures and then rolls back across the street where the bomb squad is waiting to analyze the data. They all huddle around Bud for a few minutes, and then Bud goes rolling back to the courthouse and back up the steps. Bud stops in front of the briefcase. He starts making these robotic sounds. All eyes are on Bud to see – “What is he gonna do with the briefcase?” And then – (explosion sound) Bud detonates the briefcase – like it’s obliterated – and now raining down from the sky like shrapnel are the contents of the briefcase – hundreds and hundreds of pieces of paper. Once the papers settle, the FBI moves in to collect them. And on these papers, there’s one name that appears over and over again. 

So the next day I’m at work, and suddenly there’s a forceful knock on the door. I open the door, and two men come in. They both have on bulletproof vests. One of the guys has a very military look to him – shaved head, he’s wearing a chain with a badge on it. The other has the letters FBI written across his vest. And they start telling me what happened outside the courthouse with the briefcase and Bud the robot and the flying papers, and then they say who they’re here for – a man named Donnie Craig. Now Donnie Craig was a resident at the homeless shelter where I worked. Now I’ve been working there for five years at this point, so Donnie and I – we knew each other pretty well. But rather than have me tell you about Donnie, I had one of our Love Thy Neighborhood team members, Darrell Johnson, tell me what he remembers about Donnie. 

DARRELL JOHNSON: Donnie carried a briefcase with him and there were legal documents in this and sometimes his papers would be sticking out. I mean, the briefcase was just full, full of papers. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And just like the rest of us, Darrell was curious about this briefcase and all these papers. What did Donnie carry it around for? And then one day, he found out.

DARRELL JOHNSON: One time I saw him just writing fervorously. He was just writing, writing, writing. And I asked him, I said, “What have you got there?” He goes, “I’m writing to the president of Russia.” And I said, “What do you wanna talk to the president of Russia about?” And he said something along the lines of, “We need to talk about gas prices.” And I just said, “Alright, man. Um, I hope that goes well for you.” 

JESSE EUBANKS: You see, Donnie had severe schizophrenia. He would constantly be talking to people that did not exist. He was constantly in his own fabricated world, one in which he was often an astute businessman taking care of matters that were extremely important for our country. Here’s Darrell again.

DARRELL JOHNSON: And I just remember going downstairs and I heard this fast-paced talking and I, I was wondering if somebody was hurt or if somebody was in trouble, so I rushed down and I found Donnie talking on the phone. And I really couldn’t make out every word he was saying, but the look on his face said he meant business and I didn’t even bother asking him if he needed my help ’cause the guy was taking care of business. And then all of a sudden I hear “Slam!” And I said, “You alright?” And he said, “I just got off the phone with Obama. We are okay.” And I said, “Well, alright.” And then he was singing Michael Jackson, like literally he was moonwalking. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So here’s the thing – even though Donnie suffered from severe mental illness, he was also just a really kind man. He was never really argumentative. He loved to talk to people – imaginary people, but real people too. He just loved people. 

DARRELL JOHNSON: If, if you’ve met Donnie, you would think Donnie’s a suspicious character, but really he’s not a suspicious character. He’s just, uh – he’s Donnie. That’s the best way I could put it. He’s really nice. He, he has a great memory. He’s super sweet to people that, um, you know, he comes in contact with.

JESSE EUBANKS: But despite being super sweet and despite having a mental illness, when you’ve got the FBI looking for you because you left a briefcase at the federal courthouse building – that’s serious. So these two FBI agents tell me they’re looking for Donnie Craig, and I told them “Just a minute.” I turn around, and Donnie happens to be right there in the hallway. He’s looking at a mirror on the wall and he’s sternly pointing his finger, having a serious conversation with his reflection, and I hear him say to himself, “You can’t be the real Messiah if you’ve never had a fried bologna sandwich.” I look back at the two FBI agents and tell them, “That’s Donnie.” They kind of cock their heads to the side and watch for a moment as Donnie continues his conversation with the mirror. Suddenly, Donnie breaks out in falsetto, singing Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” The FBI agents look back at me and say, “Thank you for your time,” and then they walk out the door. 

The news article from The Courier-Journal about the briefcase ended with a quote from the Metro Police spokeswoman. She said, “Maybe someone left it there unintentionally.” You see, Donnie was not a stranger at the courthouse. He went there almost every day. He thought that’s where he conducted all his business, and he would often return from there with gifts, gifts given to him by the judges who worked there. Turns out all the judges knew Donnie on a first-name basis, and they all loved him. And it just so happened that on this particular day, Donnie was outside waiting for the bus. He got sidetracked, and when the bus came, he was flustered and worried he would miss it, so he ran, forgetting to grab his briefcase. And this sort of behavior – distracted, not really aware of what’s going on – this was really all we expected from Donnie. He was just a sweet man in a world all his own, and he had no concept of reality. He couldn’t really contribute much to our community, and honestly, for myself and all the other staff at the mission, that’s how we saw Donnie. The relationship went one way. We were there to help him. And we all love Donnie dearly, but we completely discounted the idea of him ever being more than a man who had conversations with imaginary people – until one day, when Donnie astounded us all.

So the reality of working at a homeless shelter is that you face some pretty tragic situations. And shortly after the whole briefcase incident, we had one of our residents pass away. He had an unexpected heart attack. And we gathered all the residents together in the lunchroom to give them the news of what had happened, and it was one of the hardest things that I’ve done. This resident we had all done life with was suddenly gone. It was sad. And I knew that this was the perfect moment to share the gospel with these men, to tell them that this tragic moment shows exactly why we need Jesus. But for some reason, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t find the right words. The man who died had been a good friend to many of the folks in the room, so I didn’t wanna make it sound like I was being insensitive or dismissive of this man’s death. I was trying to give encouragement and hope while also trying to use my words carefully, and I was failing miserably. Some of the other staff realized what I was trying to say so they chimed in, but again, the situation was so complex that they couldn’t navigate it any better than me. And then – Donnie Craig stands up. He looks around the room, and he says the very thing that we’ve all been trying to say but somehow just couldn’t. He says, “Listen. The reason Jesus came and died for us is because eventually all of us are gonna die, and we need to trust him and put our faith in him because this day will happen to all of us eventually. But if you put your trust in Jesus, you don’t have to be scared of these kind of days because God is going to take care of you. This is why we all need Jesus.” Then, Donnie turned around and sat down. And within minutes, he was talking to himself again.

It’s easy when we meet someone like Donnie to assume they don’t have anything to offer. That is what I had assumed. But in this moment, I was the one who came up short and Donnie was the one who helped all of us. This moment made me realize all of us have something to offer and that God often speaks not from platforms or celebrities. It seems God still has a preference for speaking from the most surprising and unexpected sources.

Story number two – “The End is the Beginning.” This next story comes from Jason Stephens, and it’s actually a spoken word piece. And in this piece, Jason wrestles with the truth that there’s probably nobody that is more different than we are than God. And so in this piece you will hear Jason wrestle with – “What does it mean for us to be in a relationship with a God who feels so different than us?”

JASON STEPHENS: But at this current moment, I’m feeling depleted. It’s one step away from being defeated. I wonder why it feels like the weight of this world is stacked on top of me. Feeling the pressure of every single moment that’s ahead of me, it’s killing me to think ahead. It’s beheading me. Hopefully this only exists momentarily. But let me tell you something – life ain’t easy once you acknowledge an enemy. A war in which you were drafted into, not some figurative war that can be erased with a pencil, but a matter of life and death as you wonder why this was pinned on you. I feel compelled to fight this war on penmanship. But up to this point into this, I didn’t realize that prayer was the only way of winning this. But still, I write. Still, I fight. My father considers me righteous, but nothing about me seems right. I’m supposed to be a light in this world, but there is darkness everywhere around me, abounding. Jesus, I need you now. See, I can’t live without thee. I woke up this morning and I felt like I was drowning, so I slept all day dreaming of a way to avoid my life and this darkness that surrounds me. Christ, would you be my night light? Would you be my rising sun in dark skies? Why do I wake up and hate to do the things that I have to do? Why do I feel like I’m not able to do even the things that you have called me to? And in these times, when I feel my life is stacked against me, I know that you will help me see my way through, and this is faith. That’s f-a-i-t-h. How I wish that I can write this into existence. See, I know it, you have won the war, but the enemy seems to be blessed with persistence. God, can you help me see what’s at the end of this sentence? It seems that since I found out I was free, I’ve been a fugitive being chased to be thrown back into prison, and I’m not going back. Lord, be with me when I can’t feel you. I know the enemy can’t steal you from me, especially in the times where I need you. And see, now is the time that I need you. Right now, in this time, in this place. Carry me in your arms, for the next steps that we take are on faith. They say the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but there’s an army rising and they ready to deploy. But it’s hard still. There’s evil in my heart still. The battle is within me, and I forget where to find joy. And it seems there’s never shelter when the rain comes, like we can never find healing when the pain comes. And then I start to think in desperation of my situation. I keep hearing voices, but I don’t know where they came from. Is it the enemy, his Spirit, or the inner me? I’m crying out to God, but is he hearing me? I wanna keep fighting, but I don’t think I have the energy. I know he lives in me, but lately what has gotten into me? In these moments, I refrain from asking God why. Nothing compares to the pain felt when Christ died. He who endures to the end shall be saved. In my suffering, he deserves praise.

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, that’s the first two stories, so stay with us because after the break we will be hearing from Nathan Robertson and Lachlan Coffey. We’ll be right back.


JESSE EUBANKS: Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. Jesse Eubanks. Before the break, we heard a story from both myself and Jason Stephens, and our next story actually comes from Nathan Robertson. Nathan’s twin brother Nicholas actually has special needs, a thing called Angelman syndrome. In this story, Nathan explores the mystery and the beauty of growing up with his twin Nicholas.

NATHAN ROBERTSON: I walked into the bathroom where my mom was giving my twin brother Nicholas a bath. The question I wanted to ask burned in my stomach, the way it does when you’re eight years old and you’re about to ask your parents a question that will probably make them upset. However, the question needed to be asked, and I was going to be the one to do it. The redness slowly filled my cheeks as I stood guiltily, even though no words had escaped my mouth yet. Head down, I could see from my peripheral vision the mirror through which I saw my mom glance up at me with a puzzled look on her face. “What’s wrong, Nathan?” she asked. After a brief silence, I forced the words out of my mouth as fast as I could. “Why do you love Nicholas more than me?” Nicholas has a rare genetic disorder called Angelman Syndrome. It is a deletion in the 15th chromosome that eliminates his ability to speak, to think critically, and to even walk on his own. He will be fully dependent for the rest of his life. Every day someone has to change him, bathe him, dress him, and feed him. We did not find out this information until Nicholas and I were about three months old. That was hard, to say the least. I wish I could write a whole story about my parents and their unrelenting strength and constant love and their unending displays of grace, but that would be much too long. I think it may be wiser to simply tell the story of how I lack those traits and how I finally found them in an unexpected place – between the covers of my first copy of Calvin and Hobbes.

Calvin and Hobbes, written and illustrated by Bill Watterson, is about the many adventures of a rambunctious boy named Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes. The comics are all fueled by Calvin’s imagination. To him, Hobbes is a full-grown tiger that he talks to and plays with every single day. Now, I’m going to be open and honest here – it was years before I realized that Hobbes was actually a stuffed tiger and not real like Calvin thought he was. I’ll never forget making that realization and running downstairs to my dad and yelling frustratingly, “Wait, is Hobbes not real?” He laughed and said, “Yeah, you didn’t know that? He’s just a stuffed tiger.” Those were such profound words to me – “He’s just a stuffed tiger.” To me he wasn’t though, and he wasn’t to Calvin either. I decided that though I knew he wasn’t real I would imagine he was a full-grown tiger who sometimes acted as if he was a stuffed animal. Every new book of comics I got was like a completely new adventure to me. I can still see Calvin as the renowned Spaceman Spiff flying through space with me sitting next to him as his co-pilot. I can see Hobbes and him playing Calvin Ball as I came running out of the house to join them. But maybe most of all, I could still clearly see myself laying in the grass with them as they discussed the meaning of life and other philosophical questions.

Everyone may have told Calvin that Hobbes couldn’t talk to him, couldn’t go on walks with him, couldn’t understand his intellectual mind because he was just a stuffed tiger. Calvin never saw it that way though. Hobbes was his partner-in-crime, the one he told all his secrets to, the one he tested all of his jokes on because he knew Hobbes would always laugh. Who had a right to say Hobbes couldn’t do those things? Slowly, as I worked my way through more and more of their stories, I began to glance up from the pages and see Nicholas sitting in the chair opposite me. I began to tell some of the jokes to Nicholas, to read them aloud, to perform each little vignette of Calvin and Hobbes’ life. Who is to say he couldn’t enjoy these stories too? Just because he couldn’t talk or walk or understand didn’t mean that he should be ignored or viewed as nothing more than a fully dependent being. And then it hit me. Hobbes was a stuffed animal and he couldn’t walk on his own or talk on his own or understand people speaking to him, but that never stopped Calvin from trying to make him feel as though he could. Every time Calvin and Hobbes would climb up a tree, Calvin had to carry Hobbes up with him. Every time they rode down a huge hill in a wagon, Calvin had to hold Hobbes so he wouldn’t fall out. Every time they had a conversation, Calvin had to speak for Hobbes. Every time Hobbes didn’t understand the strange ways in which humans behave, Calvin had to explain it to him. If these stories were so important to me, then I should be willing to do the same. 

As I think about the past 20 years that my brother and I have spent every day of together on this earth, I am reminded of wonderful conversations and adventures that we’ve shared. Perhaps we’ve never been out west together, but we’ve been to old rundown saloons with John Wayne and tested our quick draw with the greatest gunslingers. We’ve been to Camelot and sat around the table as King Arthur presented a rousing speech. We’ve talked together about the meanings of our existence and how the world could be a better place. At this point, I think he’s far more on track to answering that question than I am. 

And yes, to some it may look odd that I’m talking to Nicholas and he’s just staring back at me with a huge smile on his face. One thing I failed to mention is that one of the major symptoms of Angelman syndrome is frequent smiling and laughter. Nicholas laughs all the time, but to me he’s not laughing for no reason. He’s laughing because he sees things in a way that I don’t. He sees the world through eyes of joy, not eyes of frustration. To him every day is an adventure, whether someone decides to join him or not. It simply took me a while to get in the wagon with him.

I think it’s funny to realize that my major discovery through the stories of Calvin and Hobbes was something that my parents knew all along. Nicholas’s dependency never meant their suffering. It meant their opportunity to join him on an adventure that few had traveled on and experienced. I wish I had seen that sooner. I think I could have loved him better, like my parents did. 

“Why do you love Nicholas more than me?” The question fell like a flat basketball on the pavement. It just sort of stuck there. I’ll never forget how my mom looked at me trying to channel her frustration at the question, but ultimately it was her love for me that shined through.

“Nathan, we do not love Nicholas more than you. We love all of you the same, but Nicholas needs us more than you sometimes. One day you’ll grow up and be on your own and Nicholas will still be here and I’ll still be giving him a bath, but Nicholas doesn’t just need us. He needs you too. God didn’t make you twins for no reason. Okay?” 

It was such a short response, so simplistic and yet so powerful that it shook me to my core. It might seem more realistic to say that even after her answer I continued to struggle with the question, but I didn’t. The question never again breached my mind. My mom’s response really unlocked a door of understanding for me, and strangely enough it was Calvin and Hobbes who opened it. We’re both 20 years old now. He’s a good bit shorter than I am. His foot is five sizes smaller than mine is. And he has watched far more Jackie Chan movies than I will ever hope or want to watch. A particular Calvin and Hobbes strip comes to mind when I think about Nicholas. 

Calvin says to Hobbes, “You know what I pray for?” 

“What?” asked Hobbes. 

“The strength to change what I can, the inability to accept what I can’t, and the incapacity to tell the difference.” 

“You should lead an interesting life,” Hobbes responds. 

“Oh, I already do.”

I’d like to say that I live my life that way, trudging through life with an innate ability to get through hardship. But the more I think about it, the more I think it’s more true for Nicholas. His disorder makes him laugh all the time, so he uses it to bring joy to others. His disorder doesn’t allow him to have complex conversations, so he simply smiles in response and accepts it. So whether he understands what’s going on or not, he’s always looking for the joy in a situation, which certainly leads for an interesting life. I always looked at myself as Calvin, trying to be a life-giving force for Nicholas and trying to allow him glimpses of a normal life. However, I think for a long time I was the stuffed tiger and it was Nicholas who was trying to wake me up and go exploring.

JESSE EUBANKS: Story number four – “The Whitest Name I’ve Ever Heard.” Our last story actually comes from Lachlan Coffey. He shared this at the podcast live event in 2018, and what you’re gonna be hearing is actually audio from that event. And let me just say that while the audio quality is not the best, we just thought that the moment was too special to let it pass. So, here’s Lachlan Coffey with “The Whitest Name I’ve Ever Heard.”

LACHLAN COFFEY CLIP: It was January 13, 2011, and my wife and I had two small kids – not on that date, but rather earlier than that date – but we were in the throes of being young parents with young kids and we were desperate for a date and I wanted to do something different on that day than just your traditional dinner and a movie. I wanted to take her to do something unique, and so I found out that Nick Cannon was coming into town at a comedy club in downtown Louisville called The Louisville Improv. Now, I knew Nick Cannon for two, two things primarily. Number one, he was the host of America’s Got Talent, and I am obsessed with that show. I don’t know if it’s just an obsession with wanting to see how many swords one man can balance on his tongue, or if it’s just a love of Simon Cowell. Either way, I love that show. And number two, Nick Cannon was the ex-husband of Mariah Carey. And I know that comes as a shock as many of you all still think he is married and you’re just finding out right now that the matrimony of Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon is over. I know. Who would’ve ever dreamed this day would happen? We thought it was everlasting. Now, you might know Nick Cannon for other things. You might know him from shows on Nickelodeon or you might know him from his sketch comedy show called All That or you might know him from a 2000 movie that Wikipedia calls a musical comedy drama called Drumline. (cheers) It’s delightful. You might know him from the 2003 hit single called “Gigolo.” And you might know him – my wife tells me that Nick Cannon has a pretty mean sock game, and I checked out his foot apparel. It’s very nice. So Nick Cannon was performing at The Louisville Improv and my wife and I decided to go and we went and we purchased general admission tickets. I was very excited about this ’cause of all of the reasons I just stated. And I walked and I gave the tickets to the ticket lady and she gave me a little wink and I thought, “I know, I do look fine tonight.” (laughter) And as luck barged into my life that very evening, the ticket lady took us and she walked us to the very front row of the stage that evening. And many times, the front row is where you wanna be. If you go and see an NBA game and you have Drake sitting next to you watching the Toronto Raptors, it’s delightful. If you go to see Celine Dion at Caesar’s Palace and she’s singing that near/far song, front row’s where it’s at. It’s your jam, as they say.

But that evening I looked around and I noticed that everyone in the crowd was African American and I was a white, middle-class man at the front row of an African American comedian getting ready to come out. The, the microphone stand was in front of me. If I reached out my hand, I could touch the stage. And I thought, “Oh no. I know I’m in the future also.” This was the moment that I realized that the wink had nothing to do with my amazing fashion sense and all to do with the color of my skin and the fact that I was white middle-class. It was no bueno. 

Well sure enough, Nick Cannon – Mariah Carey’s ex-husband – came out onto the stage, and about two jokes into his set, he says, “What’s your name?” And I said, “Lachlan.” (laughter) And he said, “That’s the whitest name I’ve ever heard.” Which I looked it up – that’s not true. Cody is the whitest name. (laughter) Amen? Well he says, “That’s the whitest name I’ve ever heard.” Everyone starts just laughing. They’re going crazy. They’re pointing. They’re saying, “Did you hear how white that guy’s name is?” (laughter) It was hilarious, which my hindsight informs me now. And Nick Cannon – Mariah Carey’s ex-husband – he went on to say that night – he said, “Lachlan, tonight I’m going to translate many of the jokes so that you understand them.” (laughter) And so for the next hour or so, Nick Cannon – Mariah Carey’s ex-husband – went on to translate jokes that were intended for an African American audience to me, a white, middle-class man named Lachlan. So for example, he would say, “In where I grew up, Lachlan, we had hood habits. Now, hood habits for you is like trailer park tendencies. Do you understand?” And I would say, “Yes, you know. Thumbs up. Yeah. I do understand. Thank you.” He would – I remember he had a joke where he said, “Now Lachlan, you and I grew up different ’cause you had rich white people cereal with – ” I remember one specific example was Tony the Tiger. He kept talking about that. He said, “We couldn’t afford no Tony on our tiger. No man, we had Tyrone the Tiger.” I was like, “I, yes, I, okay.” Uh, and on and on it went, back and forth we would go with this over, uh, a long, extended amount of time. 

And right at the end of his set, Nick Cannon – Mariah Carey’s ex-husband – he said, “Guys – ” And he was very serious about this, had a somber, reflexive moment. He said, “Guys, racism has got to end in this country, amen? We need to end it. And I think it’s not as hard as what we make it out to be. I think we could end racism tonight if we really want to. Do you guys wanna end racism?” “Yeah!” Everyone’s screaming, “Yeah!” “Do you all wanna make history in Louisville, Kentucky? We could do it tonight by ending racism for once and for all. Do you want to?” “Yeah!” “Lachlan, get up on stage with me.” What? Well, this was the moment where – at, at that time I was a secondary character in this comedic set. I was on the periphery of it all, but I was being upgraded to primary character. I, I leveled up in the set, and it made me quite nervous ’cause I didn’t know – “Is this gonna go really good or really, really bad?” I had no clue. But then I saw his fancy socks, and I thought, “I think this is gonna go okay.” So I stood up and I walked onto the stage and Nick Cannon – he locked eyes with me, and he said, “Lachlan, do you wanna end racism?” And I said, “Nick Cannon – Mariah Carey’s ex-husband – yes, I do. I do wanna end racism.” He said, “It’s simple,” and he reached his hands out, outright and he gestured me to come in and give him a hug. And I stepped into Nick Cannon’s arms that night and he wrapped those warm arms around me with his fancy socks and we hugged for like 20 or 30 seconds. It just kept going on and on. And I thought one of two things. I thought first – I was like, “It’s weird that me and Mariah Carey have both been in this position.” (laughter) And number two, I thought, “How long are we going to do this?” ‘Cause I was pulling away – I thought the hug was over – but he was pulling me in and it was like this tug-of-war moment that was happening and finally he released me and it felt so good and I felt like a changed man. And we were standing side-by-side like when a ref – the ref at the end of Rocky – and he holds my hand up and he says, “Guys, Lachlan just helped us end racism!” And I said, “Yes, I did.” And he looked at me, and he said, “Thank you, Lachlan, for helping me end racism.” And I said, “You’re welcome, Nick Cannon – ex-husband of Mariah Carey. You are very, very welcome.” And the place went nuts, they were standing ovation, people were chanting my name, it was a wonderful feeling. And Nick Cannon goes off to the side, the set is over, and we all usher out of the room. And my wife and I, we talked about all the funny jokes that evening. We talked about the sage wisdom of Nick Cannon that night – that racism, it’s easily eroded by just us being together – two races, two colors, all sorts of different people being together and just laughing together and sharing life with one another and, if needed, hugging it out. And that’s what it was about that night for me, and it was an ever sombering moment for me that we can do this and we can acknowledge that, yes, sometimes we’re different. And just like tonight, the theme is Different Together, that it’s better to acknowledge those differences together rather than in part. 

Now as an epilogue to this story, I had to do some research to prepare for this evening and I got on YouTube. I found a set that Nick Cannon – Mariah Carey’s ex-husband – did on the same timeline that I had seen him in. But it wasn’t in Louisville, Kentucky. It was in Baltimore, Maryland. And there wasn’t a man named Lachlan Coffey in the crowd. There was a man named Bernard. (laughter) That was the moment I realized that Nick Cannon – Mariah Carey’s ex-husband – he cheated on me. He was hanging out with another man. And I was hurt and upset at first, but in reality when it came down to it, me and Bernard and Cody and all the other white, middle-class man that littered the nation that, that tour – we all are linking arms with Nick Cannon to end racism. I’m okay with that. Thanks.


JESSE EUBANKS: If you benefited at all from this podcast, please help us out by leaving a review wherever it is that you listen to podcasts. Your review will help other people discover our show.


JESSE EUBANKS: Special thanks to our story contributors – Jesse Eubanks, Jason Stephens, Nathan Robertson, and Lachlan Coffey. This episode was produced and edited by Anna Tran. Music is by Murphy DX. 

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