A portly man, poorly dressed and disheveled, walks onto the stage. From the crowd comes snickers and laughter. The judges speak.
"What’s your name?" they ask. The fat man is now visibly sweating. He puts the mic to his mouth.
"My… name is… Bbbb-bob, sir." His stutter induces more laughter. The judges exchange glances, like Romans who’ve spotted the lion cage before the slave has. This will be a slaughter.
"Well, Bob. What is your talent?" a judge asks. Bob swallows hard before he speaks.
"I… can sing?" he says, his voice rising at the end. The statement sounds like a question and it reveals the doubt boiling inside of Bob’s chest.
The judges exchange looks again. This time, the cage is being unlocked. The door is swinging open and the lion is making his way into the coliseum. They can’t help but smile at what they believe is about to happen.
"Well, then," the judge says, spreading his arms, "let’s hear it."
The music comes up. A few introductory notes are heard and Bob closes his eyes. Then, it comes. The lyrics. Bob opens his mouth and from out of it comes a sound not unlike that of the angels. Powerful, rich, and beautiful. Each note his given from him with such care, such perfection, that people cannot help but to be moved. They stand on their feet, many with tears in their eyes. The derisive laughter of earlier has turned into a collective gasp as the entire audience is given the chance to see something magical. Bob continues. The judges rise to their feet. The gazes now are ones of utter disbelief. Their smiles are at what is happening in the moment, rather than smiles of what they anticipate to be.
Bob finishes. The place erupts into applause, an abundance of rejoicing. After minutes pass, the applause settles down and the judges, smiling, speak to Bob.
"Wow," says the judge.
"Thank you," says Bob. Again, the people, so moved by this performance, cannot help themselves but to begin applauding again. It subsides and the judges take turns speaking to Bob.
"Bob," says a female judge, "when you first stepped on the stage, I thought that there was no way you would do anything but fail."
"Yes," agreed a second judge, "I also thought this, because you are fat and unattractive." The three judges nod in agreement.
"Indeed," says the main judge. "I believed that you would fail spectacularly, because you are not physically attractive. But because you are so ugly, and therefore should not be able to possess any type of actual talent, the fact that you can sing is made all the more amazing!"
Bob grins from ear to ear. “Thank you!” he says. The audience again erupts in applause.
Within hours, social media feeds are covered with videos of Bob.
"This fat, gross person can do something you’re not going to believe, and it has nothing to do with eating or belching!" reads the headline on the Huffington Post.
"An undoubtedly smelly waste of a man might just change the way you think of all sweaty, gross people," is the headline on Upworthy.
"This fat person will prove that fat people are not all useless and disgusting… what he does is made all the more amazing by the fact that fat, unattractive people are supposed to not have any desirable talents," read the teaser under the Buzzfeed list of "25 people who shouldn’t be anything but dead and buried at the hands of an angry mob."
Tumblr is soon covered in photos of Bob with misattributed quotes.
"Even though I am fat and gross, I have one thing that makes me not the worst human being alive today." —Bob
"When I was a kid, other kids made fun of me, but I can sing, so that proves that I hold worth in the eyes of others." —Bob