Recognized Social Butterfly



Strangers in Paradise

Last Friday, three strangers made my day as I took a bus to and from the gym. At the bus stop near my condo, a gnome-like, scraggly-bearded codger inquired if I was 75 years old. Flabbergasted, I said that I was. He replied that I looked good for my age and then asked me how I got to be in such excellent shape. Still a little unnerved that he had guessed my age at a glance, I blurted out that my daily workout and virtually a sugar-free diet were a big plus. The man nodded and walked away.

Just after I left the gym, a tottering elderly man asked me how much weight I can bench press. Although I have never bench pressed, the fact that this stranger thought that I was able to do so was an ego boost, especially since I am now less muscular after forsaking all weight machines and free weights because of persistent neck strain.

On the way back to my condo, I noticed that the stone-faced, fairly young broad-shouldered Hawaiian bus driver paid no attention to the passengers as they entered or exited the bus. But after I told him thank you as he dropped me off at the bus stop, he said “See ya, bro.” Sure, it was a superficial farewell, but it still was heartening to hear such an unexpected term of fellowship coming from a stranger.

Later on, as I was reflecting on these encouraging strangers, I realized that their gestures came on Aloha Friday. Regardless of what day of the week it is, people should graciously greet one another. I’m convinced that if any state can foster such daily camaraderie (no matter how fleeting), it is Hawaii. After all, national surveys have for years indicated that people living in Hawaii are fundamentally happier than are mainlanders.

To epitomize this fellowship, the website for Honolulu’s Reform Temple Emanu-El is entitled, adding the first two letters of shalom (the Hebrew word for peace, hello and goodbye) to aloha (the Hawaiian word for peace, hello and goodbye). Shaloha is also an insignia on the T-shirts and hats in the Temple’s Chai boutique.

I already have the cap. But after seeing an abundance of goodwill this week, I’m going to buy the T-shirt as well, as my wife has been encouraging me to do. She has four of them in cheerful colors. I’ll settle for one: good cheer is not my forte, so I’ll start slowly.


Curious Obsessive Behavior

When I am occasionally bored, I can always find someone to keep my interest. Last week, I had to have some paint mixed at a hardware store. The young woman who inserted my untreated can into the paint mixing machine was a rhythmic riot. While the machine was churning away, she grabbed two paint stirrers. Listening to the cadence of the tumbling paint can, she began to lightly drum on the top of the machine. After a while, she gradually increased her speed and volume; and just before the paint was completely mixed, she whacked away with a vengeance. Her transition from pianissimo to fortissimo was masterful.  

The other day while I was long awaiting a bus, a persistent young man bided his time by continuously stepping across a series of exposed roots in a mammoth tree beside the bus stop. Whatever he was listening to through his earbuds may have choreographed his movement from one root to another. He never faltered as he unpredictably rotated from one exposed root to another.

When I got to the gym today, I realized that I had left my book at home. Usually my half hour on the stationary bike drags on if I am not reading. But today, I got some relief. I noticed a woman on a nearby bike doing some calisthenics while she was pedaling. She started out simply enough by raising her hands over her head. But then she started to slap her left hand against her left arm pit so vigorously and for so long that I feared that she might fall off the bike. It looked like she was flagellating herself. I wouldn’t be surprised if she badly bruised her armpit.

I enjoy watching quirky people unselfconsciously being themselves. Soon I’ll have a new observation venue: my wife has just become a member of the beachfront Elks Club (spousal privilege adds me as well to the roster). I’ll be on the lookout as we use the facility to dine, dance, exercise, and marvel at the ocean and the mountain vistas.  And of course, characters welcome.





























Honored Social Butterfly

Awesome. So nice to run into happy people comfortable with themselves.  


If you don’t write professionally now, you really should.  I always enjoys your observations and insight. 

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