Recognized Social Butterfly


Over the Top


I will always remember my father’s pre-alcoholic affection for me when he nightly piggybacked me to my bed. Always a bit apprehensive (my head almost touched the low-slung ceiling), I tightly held on to his neck and shoulders before and after I safely ducked under the threshold between the hall and my bedroom. At the end of the journey, my father ever-so-gently lifted me onto my bed. It was a tradition that I faithfully followed with my own son.


Every time that I see a father giving his son or daughter a piggyback ride at the beach or on a hiking trail, I get soft hearted. But not yesterday: I was appalled. The father was on a skateboard near a bus stop, swerving between throngs of pedestrians as his fearful son clung to his shoulders. What an outrageously dumb thing to do! No matter how skillful the father thought he might be, I felt that he was endangering the child. I had to look away to avoid the hideous prospect of seeing the boy topple to the ground if his dad collided against any obstacles on the street.


I prided myself that I had never been so reckless with my son. But then I remembered how equally heedless I was of my son’s safety.


I often fast and furiously biked down the steepest hill in my residential neighborhood: with my son strapped to my back. I never used the brake, even when I saw a car approaching. I and my son reveled in such a glorious adventure; both of us screamed with delight all the way down. Because we never crashed, we convinced ourselves that we were invulnerable. What a delusion! All it would take was one careless moment for us to be splattered on the road.


I pray that the skateboarding man with his son perched on top of him did not have an accident. Our children should not be hostage to our daredevil antics, no matter how thrilling the ride.


Today, I was amazed to see a slim young woman sedately (she also looked like she might have been sedated) curled up in a Walmart shopping cart gingerly pushed by a middle-aged lady, perhaps her caregiver. 


Right away, I was reminded of the skateboarding piggybacking. Sitting in a shopping cart is a safer mode of transportation than being precariously balanced on the shoulders of your dad.



Two Women at Costco: a Minus and a Plus


The other day, my wife and I pretty slowly walked toward the entrance to Costco. A middle-aged lady had pulled up to let us pass. When I happened to look back, I saw her purse her lips and shake her head in disgust at our presumably snail-like pace. My wife and I did not make the mean-spirited woman’s day; that’s for sure.


Inside Costco, we encountered another woman. This time it was much more pleasant. After my wife brought some fruit from the ultra-cold fruit and vegetable alcove, I methodically plopped the stuff into the huge big-box cart, unaware that I was partially blocking the chilly aisle. In between my efforts, I noticed a woman waiting for us to move on. I hope she wasn’t getting frostbite while I was sorting out the food. I apologized for the delay. She graciously replied, “You’re good.” In a moment, we got our cart out of the way, and the woman leisurely passed by us. Such an aloha spirit.



You Never Know What to Expect on TheBus


At the end of March, as I was riding the bus to the gym, a chatty female bus driver found everything anyone said to her to be hilarious. Passengers are not supposed to talk to the driver while the bus is in motion, but that rule is often ignored, no matter who initiates the conversation. Her continual guffaws were so intrusive that I couldn’t read my book. Instead, I was subjected to loopy-like Carol Burnet on steroids. I already had a slight headache: I was not amused. I couldn’t help but wince at the bus driver’s uproarious decibel-shattering deep belly laughter. I wish I had brought earplugs with me.


There are laughing clubs throughout the world, including Hawaii. No auditioning is required, but if there were, this bus driver would be the number one candidate. She should patent her laugh. No kidding.


The next day, I was in a better mood. Before I got a chance to read my book on the bus, a strung-out man (he looked like a discombobulated Edward G. Robinson without the cigar) sat next to me.  Unlike the woman bus driver, he never laughed, but he liked to poke me in the arm as he fumbled bout to make a point. After hovering over my crime novel, A Killing in the Hills, he off-the-wall sqeaked “Genesis, beginning, penta.” I told him that my book had nothing to do with the first five books of the Bible. He looked lost for a moment, poked me some more, and then whispered that he was 55. I congratulated him and added that I was 75. He blurted out “wooooooooo.” I guess he didn’t believe that I was that old, so he poked me again. The poor guy needed someone to talk to and to poke at. I good-naturedly obliged. I bet that the stone-faced people around me were relieved that they didn’t have to engage with the incoherent derelict.  


In between disassembled thoughts and blank looks, the man dreamily stared at the cover of my book. Just as I was ready to get off the bus, he clearly said “Give me a synopsis of the novel whenever we meet again.”


Wow! Was this man’s verbal stumbling and spastic poking just an act? How could this spaced-out man become so articulate? Wasn’t jibber-jabber his default?


Maybe not: I remembered the date: April 1!








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