(From my article in the New York Times June 17, 2007)
ATOP a derrick 300 feet above the Gulf of Mexico, Lawrence Harris decided what to do with his life.
Mr. Harris, a Texas native, was a professional football player whose career was foundering because of injuries. But since childhood he had also sung, and he sometimes surprised his Houston Oiler teammates with arias in the shower.
He was on the derrick that night because he was working on an oil rig to keep in shape between seasons. To entertain himself, he was singing opera at the top of his lungs.
“I never sang on the rigs because of all the testosterone around the place,” Mr. Harris, now of Yonkers, said. “But up there no one could hear me but God. I said to myself, this is what I’ve got to be doing.”