A Hairy Situation

I went on a hike last weekend with a few friends as well as a newcomer or two. We headed into Butano State Park, on the coast, about 45 minutes below San Francisco. It’s a nice little place, with a mix of some redwoods and meadows, as well as hills and ridges. The first part of the trail was uphill, and as we neared the upper part of the ridge, it had gotten a little hotter. So a few of us moved to shorts. As we resumed the hike, one lady was in front of me, and as I glanced down to watch where I was going, I saw the legs. And the hair.

My first reaction, was sort of a double take. Did I see right? It got me thinking, in between dodging the poison oak vines and the occasional branch waiting to whack me in the face. I normally associate hairy legs with men and clean shaven legs with women, because “that’s how it’s always been”. Seeing this aberration, part of me had to keep reminding my brain that “this is a woman, this is a woman”. Another part was thinking, “Why doesn’t she shave?” Yet another was thinking, “Is the problem not with her, but with you expecting shaved legs?”

I think if someone asked me, I would always say, “yes, I prefer shaved legs on a woman”. They do (at least in my mind), look nicer, cleaner, and sexier. However, as I walked along, I started to think of what I would do as a woman. Or even as a man if the standard was shaved legs for men too. I have to admit that the first thing that popped into my mind was, “No way I’d shave my legs….waste all that time…. go through all that headache and mess of razors and shaving cream or other machine…..FORGET IT. If people don’t like it, the heck with them.”

So now, with full acknowledgement of her decision being truly understandable, I then started to wonder if I’d be okay with Mrs. Dolphin going the no shave route. (In my case, the Mrs has already stated she is not about to sport hair on her legs, so this thought exercise is a bit theoretical). I’m not sure, as it felt like something I’d have to get used to. Probably no different that getting used to women with nose or body piercing, colored hair, different facial or body features, accents, or cultures. I think that after awhile it would be less of an issue, as I’d most likely be focused on the person, not the package. Which makes me wonder if society as a whole would get used to hair on lady’s legs if all the sudden everyone did it. I’m sure there’d be an uproar initially, and some people would accept it quicker than others, but would things change enough so that in a generation or two it would be no big deal? It’s an interesting question.

Going Back Home

“Driver’s License, please.” A few minutes and a number of keystrokes later, lights flashed, a tiny machine whirred, then gave birth to the object of my desire. My very own library card. It was like getting a book of E tickets at Disneyland, only without the long lines, screaming kids, or that chewing gum you just stepped in. Underneath my calm adult face, I had a smile as wide as the Mississippi river, like a kid on Christmas day.

The library in my old hometown was a two story affair. Upstairs was the adult library, with imposing dark aisles of books that seemed to reach to the sky, and tables filled with serious looking grown ups, none of whom were smiling. Not to mention the fearsome Dewey Decimal System (abandon all hope ye who enter here). Downstairs, however, was the brightly lit children’s library. It was a magical place, filled with adventures to exotic lands, puzzling mysteries, epic wars, and more. Captivating stories that would draw you in and wrap you up in a warm cocoon, as you lost yourself in the words. Time stood still in the outside world while you traveled in a different time zone across the flipping pages.

I still remember one of the captains of this ship, a grandmotherly lady called Mrs. Martin. Pearl framed glasses, grey hair and properly dressed, she was THE librarian. Always welcoming, smiling and friendly, she was fantastic in suggesting books for us to read. Encylopedia Brown, The Pushcart Wars, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were just some of the jewels unearthed. My brother and I would leave the library clutching our stacks of books, eager to get home and dig into our piles of treasure.

As I got older and moved into junior high and then high school, I progressed up into Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury, action and murder mysteries, and a ton of books on WW II (always fascinated me for some reason). An afternoon on the couch buried in a good book was still one of the great pleasures in life. By the time I reached my 30’s and 40’s though, it seemed like somewhat a forgotten pleasure. Life always seemed busy, with little time to read a book, unless I was on an airplane or sick. The internet and TV didn’t make things easier either.

From time to time, I’d hear people talking about a good book they’d read, or sometimes about quite a few books they’ve read. I’d be thinking “Where do they get the time to read?”, and I have to admit part of me was jealous. The other part was enveloped in regret, as I realized I was missing out on something special. Then this spring, an epiphany surfaced, like a lone plant through a barren field. Carpe diem, it was now or never. So off I went last month, and got my card. Paradise, here I come, I’m coming back home….

Here’s the Beef

Ran across an interesting article back in 2011, about how they were beginning to use DNA and tracking systems to keep track of where beef came from as it moved through the food distribution network. The technology was more widely used in Europe than in the US, but that appeared to be changing. Originally touted as a means to cut recall times down to hours instead of weeks, it was also going to start being used for marketing purposes. So here’s a peek at what future menus will have:

RALPH’S STEAKHOUSE IS PLEASED TO OFFER THE FOLLOWING OPTIONS:

TEXAS TENDERLOIN:

A monstrous cut of beef, since it’s a fact that EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas. Our cattle are raised on individual farmer owned land. No government handouts, no government regulations, no big corporation pinheads in fancy suits. Our beef is tough, raised out on the open range with no fancy pants barns, and kept lean with our unique Friday Night Football games with local schools. Sure, a player may get gored occasionally, but that’s life, and that’s Texas.

When it comes time to slaughter the beast, Joe Bob gets in his 73 Chevy pickup and hits the open range. The kill shots are delivered by Joe Bob at 200 yards, with one arm tied behind his back and with a blindfold on. From there it may be the chain saw and Bowie knife, or in extreme cases a stick of dynamite for a really tender burger.

CALIFORNIA CUTLET:

From the moment a new calf arrives in our low light birthing room, surrounded by running waterfalls, aromatic candles, and indigenous rain forest music, it is wrapped in a loving, caring process that will help it achieve its full potential. All young cattle are closely monitored for any signs of aggressive behavior, bullying, or unresolved emotional issues with their parents. We have trained counselors available at all times. As the calf develops, we surround it with love no matter what the gender, faith, color, body shape, or heritage it has. Transgender surgery is available if needed.

When it comes time to say goodbye to our dear, loving friends, then all staff members gather in the Farewell Room, to view a slide show celebrating our guest’s life, deliver the final goodbye hugs and kisses, and achieve closure to this very painful, emotional moment. Then our guests are given a final vegan meal with a strong sedative that lets them achieve that final sleep that they so rightly deserve.

KANSAS RED BEEF:

Here in Kansas, we consider ourselves a Red state through and through. We don’t go for any of that Sodom and Gomorrah Blue state stuff. Our cattle are bred from our “Certified Heterosexual Cattle” parents, and raised on good Christian ranches. We prohibit our cattle from accessing the internet, to protect them from all that porn and filth. Each Sunday, all ranches conduct Sunday Services, using bullhorns to deliver that day’s sermon to the animals.

On the day of their Dispatch to Heaven, the animals arrive at our House of Worship, where they are given a chance to confess any sins and re-affirm their faith in the Lord. Then they are dispatched to the World Beyond, unless we have any heathens or homosexuals to dispatch first.

NEVADA BLACKJACK BEEF:

Every 21st package of beef comes with a $1 casino token hidden inside, perfect for starting your vacation fund. Double bonus if that annoying mother in law gets it caught in her windpipe and your inheritance arrives earlier than expected. All beef cuts are stamped with our unique red or black playing card imprint (except for the Clive Bundy Beef, which is red only, no black allowed). In limited distribution areas, we offer our Area 51 beef, which glows a wonderful soft green in the dark. Any E coli contaminated beef is limited to our unlucky 777 beef packets, which seem to be popular gifts to give to the aforementioned mothers in law, as well as rude co-workers, nasty bosses, and those pesky neighbors with the noisy leaf blower.

Our slaughterhouses have a unique feature. As the animal proceeds inside, they step on floor plates that will spin an adjacent slot machine. Should all cherries pop up, the blade swings down, dispatching our friend to their destiny. Any other combination on the machine will let our friend proceed to the next plate. Oddsmakers display odds of the Grim Reaper arriving, and all betting and video is accessible from our Vegas casinos.

WASHINGTON DC BEEF:

Our beef is unlike any other you will find in any other state. Your first surprise will be when you bring it to the cash register, and find your $4.99 package of beef has ballooned up in cost to $345. Next, upon opening it at home, you will find it to be a small piece of beef that is laden with pork. Lots of pork. Pork with the names of your neighbors, fellow citizens, and a few large corporations stamped in it. Once you find the specific piece of beef with your name on it, you will find you paid $345 for an ounce of beef. You also find you owe $35 in beef consumption tax (as listed on the inside of the wrapping), and by unwrapping the package you have inadvertently agreed to send the title on your car and the deed to your house to our Washington Beef headquarters.

When it is time to dispatch our animals, they are ushered into the production facility and met at the door by one of our impeccably dressed and coiffured Congressional officials. Declaring “I’m from the government and I am here to help you”, they proceed to dispatch the animal before it has a clue as to what is happening.

The Supremes & Marriage

Well, it appears the end of the world began yesterday, as the US Supreme Court struck down state bans on gay marriage. Judge Roberts dissented and said “the fundamental right to marry does not include a right to make a state change its definition of marriage”. Judge Scalia said it was a threat to democracy. As the four conservative judges fought valiantly, the US slid down the slippery slope of further destruction. I fear for what is next. Will those crazy liberals now claim that the world is round, and not flat? Perish the thought.

Sigh…..in these crazy times, it is perhaps best to remember that the sun will still shine tomorrow, and life in many ways will go on just fine for most of us. “The times, they are a changing”, and change is sometimes far from easy. The US has struggled with this idea for awhile. However, the reality is that this is a good thing. A society that discriminates is not the society we should be. There were teeth gnashed when women were given the right to vote, when blacks were freed and later given civil rights, when we let the Irish/Chinese/Polish/Hispanic people into the country, etc, etc, etc. Yet through it all, this country and its people persevere. Not always perfect, not always smooth, not always right, but we manage. This will be no different.

Support for gay marriage increases significantly as you move from the old to the young. With more exposure to gays in school, work, and social settings, the young are more supportive and understanding. Even in society, it is gradually becoming less of an issue. We have a whole lot of other things that are a “threat to democracy”, Mr. Scalia. Such as Citizens United. Such as inequitable tax laws. Such as Medical Monopolies. Such as huge and endless wars and government spending. Blaming gay marriage would be like blaming the butterfly that lands on the house, which then collapses due to dry rot.

I liked one quote from Kennedy’s decision – “Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the couples seek it for themselves because of their respect – and need – for its privileges and responsibilities”.

In time, I think it will be clear that this was a civil rights issue, not a religious issue, not a states’ rights issue, not a democracy issue. If we want to “save” the institution of marriage, we should invite those in who will be dedicated to their partner, and set a good example for the family and community. Heterosexual marriages are not perfect – look at the divorce rate, the number of spousal abuse cases, the number of child abuse cases. Those in glass houses should not throw stones, I think. If all the money and effort against gay marriage was instead spent improving the lives of families and family members in heterosexual unions, we all would be better off.

To Do Lists

Going through a stack of papers on my desk, I came across a To Do list. I was almost ready to put it on the bottom of the pile when I saw the date………..2009………Ooops! Apparently, I did not quite finish that one. (understatement of the day).

 Looking at the list, I was struck by how many of these unfinished tasks were not really that important in hindsight. Would we be better off applying that “If you only had a week to live” idea to our To Do lists, to only put down the things are more important or critical? I wonder. It seems as though To Do lists are almost like New Year’s Resolutions. You write down this, you write down that, and a year later you look at your list and only a couple of them are done. In the meantime, the unfinished tasks are like a sword hanging over your head, dropping some guilt onto you every time you review them.

On the positive side, trying to get things done, and working to improve yourself and your life, are both commendable things. So I’ll take 3 seconds of solace for that. In a perfect world I would be independently wealthy with a personal assistant to do some of this stuff, or retired with 20 or 30 hours a week to get all these things done. Since there are no recent phone calls from the Trumps or the Kardashians, neither of those appear to be on the nearby horizon. Therefore, the lists remain on my desk. Watching me……..Waiting……… Cooking up more guilt. Waking me up from my sleep once in awhile for good measure. Just to remind me who’s boss.

So today, I fight back. Donning my sword and armor, I ride forth to fight the good fight. Until I hear a siren song in the distance. I look around and see a refuge shimmering in the distance. It’s the couch, ready to welcome me with open arms and soothing comfort. So I take my pencil and add “clean up the To Do list” ……to my To Do List….. Sigh…..

Rising Moons

Back in the good old days, when men were men, women were women, and the sheep were scared………Oh wait a minute,………. wrong story line……

Anyway, back in my younger years, it seemed that there was more order in this world. Everyone had their place and their role in life. Men worked at jobs, women were mothers at home, kids were playing carefree out in the backyard, and the milkman made several visits a day to Mrs. Murphy’s house……… All was well.

Things have changed nowadays, and that was brought home to me last week. I was driving along the street, stopped for a light, when a bicyclist passed me on the left. As she passed, my eyes did the obligatory check. She had nice long brown hair, average upper body size, and a nice firm pair of jeans. As my eyes slid down toward them, I got the shock of my life………

THE MOONS WERE RISING!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, Venus One and Venus Two were both surging out above the jeans, seeking a little light and exposure.

While at first I thought maybe it was either a bad nightmare, or a one time aberration, my worst fears were confirmed later in the week when I looked over at a young lady bending down to get something out of her car, and saw this nightmare shot again. Seared into my brain, I’m not when this haunting vision will go away.

Over the years, I have come to expect this view from the local plumber or refrigerator repairman. The cheeks, the hairy moons, the crack……..it is indeed an awful sight. However, you knew ahead of their visit to prepare yourself, and as they worked you could avert your eyes and gaze elsewhere in the kitchen. You paid by check, so as not to risk the chance of a stray coin disappearing down the Crevice of the Creature, and you having to fish it out. Plumbers Butt is a terrible sight for the eyes and should be contained in isolated areas, sort of like hazardous waste.

It would be one thing if the pants showed a sliver of decorative derriere. It is a far, far different thing when you see massive angry moons threatening to explode to the sky. If the young women of the world have appropriated this dangerous weapon for their own use, I fear for society. An innocent appreciative glance will run flat smack into Nightmare on Main Street, and Trauma on Aisle 5. No amount of therapy or counseling will be able to repair the psychological damage. Will hairy chests and beer guts be next?

Labels

It seems like every week I get a solicitation in the mail from some charity group, usually accompanied by a sheet or two of address labels. Apparently the thinking is that this is a useful gift that will make me so appreciative that I immediately grab my checkbook and fire off a large check. It makes a lot of sense………except for two things.

First, in the age of the internet, people are increasingly sending emails instead of letters, and paying bills online instead of mailing checks. Second, unless these groups never venture out of their offices, don’t they notice that every other charity on the planet is also sending me address labels? How many letters and bills do they think I mail, and just what exactly am I supposed to do with hundreds of labels? Save them on the off chance the post office will still be there when I emerge from the fallout shelter after Armaggedon?

After some thought, I’ve come up with some ideas on what we can do with all those labels, and what the charities could send out instead.

NEW USES FOR LABELS:

Paste them on the forehead of your wayward spouse to reduce the chances of them cheating. No need to sneak a peek at the left hand to check for rings, or inch closer to look for the telltale white band where a ring sat a few hours earlier. Just a quick glance at the forehead and you’re done.

Paste them on wedding gifts you send, so they can be more easily identified and returned when the couple breaks up. For added entertainment, the stickers could have a time release glue formula, so that after 1 year, 3 years, or 7 years, the sticker would pop open to reveal a “We bet you’d break up in 2021” (or whatever year you picked). If you guessed the correct year of the breakup, you’d get your gift returned and collect the pot of money.

Paste them on the nearest telephone pole, mailbox, or table at Dennys. Just to mark your territory, like Fido does.

Require donors to paste their sticker on the politician they buy, so the rest of us can figure out who’s beholden to who.

Paste them on the bumper of any fancy sports car you see. If the owner ever can’t be found, the first sticker gets dibs on the car.

Paste them on your kids, just before you send the kids off to the address shown on your chain letter. In 7 weeks, you’ll receive a new set of kids. Since we all know kids are better behaved when they’re at someone else’s house, every parent is happy. After a week or two, you repeat the process. More advanced users will be able to swap spouses and in-laws via the chain, as well as Aunt Mabel’s holiday fruitcake.

WHAT SHOULD THE CHARITIES SEND OUT INSTEAD OF STAMPS?

Since advertising is targeted to certain customers, the charities could do some targeting themselves. Send an attractive young man/woman and a bottle of champagne to the single folk, a new saw to the home improvement guy, a new pet to someone else, and some Ben and Jerry’s to the girl who just got dumped. Almost anything’s better than a label.

Early warning systems would be of far greater value. Phone or email alerts to tell us the neighbor is headed over, would be especially appreciated if we’re home in pajamas, unshowered & unshaved, looking like a police mug shot. Or to alert us that the relatives are heading in for visit, our kid’s boyfriend/girlfriend is headed over, or that Jehovah’s Witnesses are in the neighborhood. Another option is an alert ot our car as we drive home, letting us know that the kids/spouse/parents are in a BAD mood, the house is a mess, and the dog/cat just barfed inside the front door.

For those charities working in a foreign country, I’d be much more inclined to donate if my donation resulted in them taking a relative of my choice for a year or so. Preferably to some remote outpost. Preferably one that has no communication and no choice for return. Bonus donations would be given if they take two relatives instead of just one.

Lotto tickets in selected mailers would be a good idea. That would give us an incentive to open them.

If they’re gonna be staying with labels, at least send us somebody else’s labels. They’ll come in handy when we’re sending that obnoxious gift or unwelcome item to our rude boss, irritating co-worker, or despised family member or neighbor. Imagine being able to blame it all on Alice Smith, 114 Locksley Lane, Portland, OR. Just the thing when you want to send your boss the head of a mop, labeling it as “New Hairpiece”. The possibilities are endless………

Malysia Air

I thought the Malaysia Air saga had vanished, but apparently not……

 

8am:

Authorities announce they’ve officially, honestly, really, promise on a stack of bibles, suspended the search for Malaysian Air flight missing since March.

 

9am:

Malaysian officials announce that new evidence points to the flight not heading west of Australia, but in fact heading to mainland China.

 

10 am:

Chinese officials announce that due to NSA hacking into their computers, they did not realize that the missing plane did in fact land in China. They are investigating further.

 

11 am:

Chinese officials announce that the plane was apparently sold to Donald Sterling, the LA Clippers owner, and was taken to the US several weeks ago.

 

12 noon:

Los Angeles officials announce that the missing Malaysian Air plane has been found inside Staples Center, the home arena of the Clippers. They are investigating reports that Donald Sterling was planning on using it to send black fans to the newly opened Clive Bundy Cotton Fields in Nevada.

 

1pm:

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, announces that Russia will help erase the stain of racism in the United States. An agreement is signed between Putin and Sterling, specifying that Russia will trade 50,000 Ukrainians for 50,000 blacks.

 

2pm:

Nigeria announces it actually has the missing plane, and is willing to sell it for $750,000. Due to unfortunate complications, buyers are asked to wire $250,000 to Nigeria as a good faith down payment, and promise that the plane will be delivered within 48 hours.

 

3pm:

North Korea says that it has the plane within missile range, and will blow it up later tonight unless the US and other governments agree to send 10 million dollars in foreign aid by Friday.

 

4pm:

Google announces that the plane in LA is merely a holographic image, derived in part from a 3 story high version of Google Glass. In a slap at Apple, Google announces that they will now offer iPlane, a 3D virtual plane ride with Google Glass.

 

5pm:

In an embarrassing press conference, Los Angeles officials admit that the missing plane has been stolen. “We turned our backs for a few minutes to make some phone calls, and when we returned, it was gone”. Rumors swirl that the plane will get new hydraulic lift shocks, oversize rims, and a stereo system upgrade at East LA chop shop.

 

6pm:

ABC denies stealing the plane for a new season of Lost.

 

7pm:

California activates its statewide Amber Alert system, ask motorists to call 911 immediately if they

happen to see a Boeing 777 motoring down the freeway.

 

8pm:

US Customs and Border Security announces the 777 has been seized in the interest of National Security. They deny reports that Homeland Security officials are circulating among illegal immigrants in detention centers in Texas, offering free airline tickets to Malaysia.

 

9pm:

Brazilian officials announce that the 777 will be used in the World Cup closing ceremony, as skydiving soccer players play a 3D soccer game using a specially outfitted ball, as they parachute toward the main stadium.

 

 

 

Bikes

Walking down the street today, I saw a bicyclist blow through a red light while making a right turn at high speed, completely ignoring a police car that was just getting into the intersection. Crazy and stupid. However, the cops continued on their way and he got away with it. No wonder why there are so many traffic accidents. Anyway, it got me thinking about bikes. Whether motorized or pedal, there’s something cool about being on a bike. Whether it’s the wind in your face, the sense of independance and freedom, or the excitement at exploring new worlds, it makes a bike ride something special.

 

It starts off with your first bike, and of course, a set of training wheels. Once you master the basics, the next immediate goal is to get rid of those training wheels. All the kids, especially us boys, knew that training wheels were for babies & sissies. Being seen in public using them was like walking around in your diaper, sucking on a pacifier. Acute embarrassment for a 3 or 4 year old, as we wanted to tell the world we were BIG boys now. So after more than a few “Dad run behind us and get us started” launches, our crash rate finally reached zero and it was a quick transition to normal bikes.

 

Once you had a bike, then there important science experiments to perform, such as seeing how fast you could go. My brother and I had very basic cheap 1-speed bikes when we started out, probably something similar to a $10 Walmart special. Red and white, as I remember. One day, a group of neighborhood kids were hanging out and decided to do the speed test. The subdivision had a few hills, and we went up one of the shallower ones. As it came to my turn, I pushed off, pedaling as fast as I could. Then it was time to coast, as I reached warp speed.

 

Warp might be a good description after all, as the handlebars and front wheel started to shake violently back and forth, and it was all I could do to hang on and stay upright. Braking was out of the question, as I was frozen in the moment. Apparently I had now reached the appropriately described terminal velocity, one of nature’s tools to help cull the herd. The bike apparently had a mind of its own, and was proceeding down the hill in a straight line at that point. As I looked ahead I saw the bike was headed directly for a corner curb………… DIRECTLY…….. It was as if the corner had a bullseye on it and I was a dart headed straight to the center. I remember thinking that turning might be a good idea at that point, but getting that thought transferred to my shaking arms was easier said than done. Impact was a a few seconds later, followed by Launch, as both the bike and I went head over heels.

 

I think I got walloped pretty good. I remember a friend’s dad coming over to pick me up off the concrete, making sure all my body parts were intact, then walking me a few houses to home. From what I remember, the bleeding was not too bad, and I kept all my teeth. A successful mission! Even though it was pretty scary, I have to admit it was also sorta cool.

 

A few years later, we had ditched our kiddie bikes to ride with the big boys. Yep, 2 speed Schwinn bikes with…………..drum roll please………banana seats. I kept my bike relatively normal, sometimes adding playing cards to the spokes. I loved the sound those made. My brother spray painted his seat purple and put in green sissy bars on his seat, making it more like a chopper. He always was one for making his own way a little different. The bikes changed gears when you braked with the pedals, rather than have any gear shifter on the handlebars. A good idea in theory. However, when you were going fast, braked a little, and went to pedal hard, you’d sometimes find yourself in low gear suddenly. Your legs and the pedals would be going crazy round and round, with your feet flying off the pedals. If you were crouched up a bit, you could land hard on the seat and smash the family jewels. Not a good feeling.

 

It was about the same time that “popping a wheelie” became popular as well. There were some kids who were masters of this skill, and could ride 50 or 100 feet with a wheelie. Then there were the rest of us. My wheelie attempts were pitiful, as I yanked back on the handlebars only to see the front tire rise up an inch or two off of the ground. Catcalls from the peanut gallery only added to my embarrassment. So then, determined to save face, I’d try another time with as much force as I could. No inch or two this time. No, this time the front wheel rose high up in the sky, and I celebrated my glory for a split second. In that moment, I was a giant among pygmies, an eight year old Evil Knievel. Alas, the glory was short lived, as I then fell on my butt behind the bike, with the bike crashing over me a few seconds later. Humiliation had made a quick visit again…..On the positive side, this provided endless amusement to the other kids watching as they laughed their asses off.

 

 

A Lunch For the Heart

Some years ago (maybe 5 to 10), I found myself ordering a dish of pad see ew (noodles, chicken, broccoli, egg) for lunch at the counter of a small Thai eatery. When I opened up my wallet to pay, I saw I only had $2.00. My heart sank. I had forgotten to go by the ATM again. Writing this now, in the age of digital cash, credit cards, debit cards, mobile phone payments, etc, it does sound sort of dated. However, at that time and that place, I don’t think credit cards were an option.

 

Although I wasn’t on my last dime, it felt a little like that. Over the years, occasionally I’ll end up with just a dollar or two in the wallet. Although I don’t do it on purpose, I have to admit that in a perverse way, I kind of like it. You don’t really think about the value of money and economic priorities when you have a wallet full of cash or a well stocked credit card. Handing over money can at times become almost meaningless. That picture changes dramatically when you only have a couple of dollars to spend. It brings me back to my college days and childhood, when every dollar seemed pretty important and you spent some time thinking about what you really really wanted to spend it on (or not spend it on, for that matter). It keeps me humble, and reminds me that a lot of people in this world ARE on their last dollar. Sort of a quick reality check, to remind you that the day’s sometimes petty problems are nothing compared to someone who doesn’t have enough to eat, a place to stay, can’t afford shoes, can’t afford medical care, etc.

 

So as I stood at the counter looking down at the two dollar bills in my wallet, I felt like a complete idiot. I was also pretty embarrassed that I had not checked the wallet before ordering, and had wasted the counter guy’s time. I looked slowly up at him, and told him that I was sorry, that I only had two dollars and would have to cancel the order. I half expected him to get mad at me and tell me what a fool I was. Instead, he merely smiled, and said that $2 was fine and I could pay him back in the future.

 

As I walked over to a table and sat down, I remember feeling grateful that he would do something like that. He didn’t know me from Adam, and he might never see that money again. A big corporation might not miss a dollar or two, but many of these small food shops are not rolling in the dough, and every dollar is important. Sort of like how I felt with my $2. So I took a blue paper menu with me as I left, and I vowed to myself that I would repay him some day.

 

Although I’m a little ashamed to admit it, that menu has been sitting in a pile of papers ever since. First it was a few months, then a few years. Once in awhile I’d come across it and say “Oh yeah, I should go back there.” Yet something else would always seems to come up. As the years passed, there were times I’d think about maybe just tossing it in the trash and forgetting about it, since it was so long ago. Yet I could never bring myself to throw it away. I’d see it and feel a little twinge in my conscience, reminding me of the generosity I’d been shown and the debt that was still unpaid. This past weekend, I just got the feeling it was time to set things right.

 

So last week, it worked out that I had some extra time to make a bit of a detour, and pop in for lunch. I drove up the street, not even sure the place was still there. I remember questioning myself as well, wondering if I was doing the right thing or being a complete idiot. Sort of felt like a scene from the movies where the main character is returning home to see someone again after 20 or 30 years and wondering if they’d be welcomed with open arms or anger or indifference. I have to admit I’d feel even worse if I found out they closed and I could do nothing more.

 

As luck would have it, they were still there, so I stopped and went in. They had re-arranged things a little but I still remembered it. I ordered one of the lunch specials, then gave the lady at the counter a $20 and told her to keep the change. I figured a $13 pay back for a $3 gift was fair. I handed her the worn and slightly tattered blue paper menu, and told her my story. She got a huge smile on her face, and told me that the menu was from about 7 years ago, and that the man behind the register at that time was her husband. Now I was the one with the huge smile on my face, and I was thrilled to be able to repay the good deed. It made me smile even more when I heard her telling the cook about it in Thai. Even though I couldn’t understand a word, I heard the excitement and happiness in her voice and saw the cook beaming in the kitchen area. It was music to my eyes and ears.

 

The one down note was that her husband was not at the restaurant today. I would have loved to meet him face to face, shake his hand and say a heartfelt “thank you”. As I left after lunch, I asked her to please tell her husband thanks from me.

 

Walking out the door of the restaurant, I had a smile on my face, a lightness in my step, and feeling of being at peace with the world. It felt wonderful to repay the gift of kindness.