Eerie McDreary

via Daily Prompt: Eerie

Eerie was four years old when her neighbor told her
that her name was an unusual one
and downright crazy if you ask me
and what was her mother thinking

Eerie changed her name to Cheery
but couldn’t cry during sad movies

She called herself Weary but became
too tired to play in the schoolyard

Leary didn’t work either because
she believed in Santa Claus

So she stuck with Eerie and at twenty-two
she married her high school sweetheart
Thomas P. McDreary who was star quarterback
and she became Eerie McDreary

* Daily Prompt encourages folks to write a new post based on a word prompt.  Fun stuff!

Syncing with the 60s

Marvin-Gaye-Grapevine

After midnight
They’ll be dancing in the street
So don’t sleep in the subway, darling
And touch me in the morning

You really got me
Tossin’ and turning’
You keep me hanging on
Like a rolling stone

I heard it through the grapevine
You lost that loving feeling
Where did your love go
I got nothing but a heartache

Love is blue
And I’m alone again, naturally
But big girls don’t cry
And a change is gonna come

So people get ready
I’m waiting for the man
Reach out I’ll be there
Be my, be my baby

My Dad Used to Talk to the TV

I’m re-posting something I wrote a couple of years ago.  Missing my dad this Father’s Day . . .

Yup, he told Lawrence Welk that the Lennon Sisters should sing in every other number, and told Walter Brennan he needed to do a better job in protecting the McCoys. He told Walter Cronkite that Americans were bullies in the Vietnam War, and let Lyndon Johnson know that lives were being wasted in a stupid war. He let Vic Morrow know that he was the hero in Combat, and informed Sargeant Joe Friday when a clue was right under is nose.

Dad liked serious shows, like Gunsmoke and Route 66. He disapproved of comedies. So when Dick Van Dyke and Carol Burnett came on, Dad shifted his conversation to me and Mom. He told us how silly they were and that watching them were a waste of time. Somehow, Red Skelton escaped his critique.

Ed Sullivan was hit or miss for Dad. He liked Louis Armstrong; the Beatles were definitely out. Elvis was okay as long as he sang gospel music. Forget the pelvic gyrations.

Dad made it through the third grade. He was orphaned at 14, and was raised by Catholic nuns in the town of Narvacan in the Ilocos Sur province ofthe Philippines. In 1946, at 19 years old, he immigrated to Hawaii to work on the plantation in Lanai City in Hawaii. There was no real city on that tiny island and plantaton life was not his idea of America, so he moved to the main island of Oahu. He worked as a housekeeper at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki. When he retired in 1975, he was the longest standing employee — 30 years.

To put my brother and me through parochial schools, he took on a second job as a waiter in a Waikiki restaurant. He’d work from 8AM to 4PM at the hotel, eat a quick dinner, change and go off to his restaurant job at 5:45. He’d come home after 11PM, smelling of his customers’ cigarette smoke. On weekends, I used to stay up and help him count his tips.

When Dad was home, the tv was his to command. My brother and I were the “remote control,” and we took turns changing the channel. There were only three.

The television was my Dad’s binoculars to the world. He watched the news whenever he could, and knew the events and capitals of many countries. He was very critical of the United States in foreign affairs, and yet when I was a teenage peacenik, he chided me for not appreciating my own country. He remained a citizen of the Philippines throughout his life.

The television was also his main companion after he retired and my mom continued to work. He’d call me at work just to chat, and I could hear Judge Judy in the background. I could only imagine what he told her.

One day in my office, he asked me, “What is dot com?” I did a brief tour on my computer and he was amazed. “Who’s doing all that? . . . How do you know that’s true? . . . Can people see me?”

He was flabbergasted when we IM’d my son Marco. “You mean he’s sitting in front of his computer right now? How did he know I’m in your office?” When my mom made a couple of witty remarks in her IM with Marco, he chided her, “Don’t joke like that!” Always the serious commentator.

He never had a computer because that was “just for smart people.” But I think he would have eventually succumbed to technology had he lived longer. He would not be able to resist another pair of binoculars, another landing for his commentary.

I can just see him now, talking to the computer. He would read this blog and say, “You mean everybody in the world can read about me?” And “Shouldn’t there be serious picture of me instead?”

Intolerance of the Intolerant

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If there’s one thing I cannot stand
Is when certain people must demand
That we alI think the way they think
Especially thoughts that just plain stink

Like telling me which books I can carry
Or who among us is allowed to marry
Or that I can hoard my ammunition
Because it says so in the Constitution

So I avoid their talk show stations
And declarations of their supreme nation
And their churches that tithe so well
While the rest of us will go to hell

But at the end of the day I must confess
That I myself am quite self-righteous
For I am committed to my own intolerance
Of those I label right wing Intolerants

Shingles and the Art of Mocking

In early July, I spent five straight days of self-quarantine due to my first outbreak of shingles. The blisters broke out on the first morning of a Hawaii business trip.  While I appreciated prescribed painkillers, the comfort of my hotel room and the convenience of room service, my gills desperately sought fresh air and I craved contact with people other than hotel staff, kind though they were.

On Saturday, I proclaimed, “ENOUGH!” and roamed Kapiolani Park across my Waikiki hotel.  A bit self -conscious about my bandaged blister-covered forehead, I nevertheless felt smugly anonymous in my wide brim hat and Jackie O shades.

My reward was instant.  The park was a rich tapestry of relaxing picnickers, the cadence of drums accompanying young Tahitian dancers, colorful inflated birthday party bouncies, and the enticing aroma of charcoal barbeques.

The big event that day was a Korean Cultural Festival, and the smell of kalbi, barbequed chicken, and sweet baked goods infused the still hot air.  Festival booths offered information about culture, health, politics, and sports.  Grandmothers and teenage girls giggled and blushed as their I-photos were taken with Korean soap opera stars roaming the crowd.

But the best attraction was a display of traditional Korean masks.  The docent proudly explained that the masks at this festival are all antique.  The displayed masks were made from wood and gourd.

Korean masks depict exaggerated human expressions designed to elicit fear, humor,  respect, awe.  They were used in war, on both soldiers and their horses.  Shamanistic ceremonies used these masks to drive away evil spirts, but I suspect some of the masks resemble the targeted bad spirits!

Some masks were used to remember the faces of great historical figures in death masks; and often masks were used in the arts, particularly in ritual dances, courtly, and theatrical plays.

But the use I most appreciated was that described by the docent. He seemed quite fond of explaining that masks were often used by common villagers to mock political and military leaders in a way had no repercussions .

In other words, the masks were tools of democracy.  Rather than totally submit one’s being and spirit to powerful figures, Korean villagers chose to channel their subsersive opinions in plays and childish enactments.  It was an ancient Korean version of Saturday Night Live . . . a spoof, but none the wiser because it’s all in fun. 

If these masks were today’s American political tools, I could mock eloquent. Mr. President, did you really change your position on fundamental social issues like marriage, or was your initial position merely political expedience? Mr. Romney, how could you outright lie about your position on vital economic issues like the automobile industry?

Mr. Romney, how could you take credit for things that happened to fall in your lap as governor, like your state’s education?  Mr. President, why didn’t you do everything you promised within your four years of leadership?

But on the eve of our 2012 presidential election, my political masks are meaningless.  The one political tool I possess on this day is my vote.  And so I wield my vote with hope, and echew the fear preached by purse guards and dream killers.

I do have one more mask, though, and I use it to mock.  It’s been over three months  since my shingles outbreak.  I have had scar-potential facial blisters, followed by tearful and debilitating pain, altering medication that I would not normally ingest, embarrassing medicinal side effects and months of a general spirit of discouragement.  Today, the scarring seems minimal, I no longer take anti-viral meds and rarely take Advil.  But, while I can no longer bask in the sun because I do not want scars, and I’m told I rub by forehead when I am stressed, I am confident that the shingles have passed.

So, this is for you, Shingles.  You have nothing on me!

Coping with Miasma

Jay’s office was the only safe haven
On the entire second floor of the old brownstone headquarters
Of Prufrock and Son Household Goods, LLP

A hundred square feet of healthy atmospheric ions
Unpolluted by kindergarten finger-painting blather
And vacation photos displayed in a plastic pineapple frame

His desk held no coffee mug embossed with the company logo
Or tell-tale crumbs from the red velvet chocolate frosted cupcake
Left over from yesterday’s office birthday party held for his dad

He emphatically deleted the email blast soliciting donations
For the flower bouquet intended for the office manager
As she recuperates from her second facelift

He grimaced as he overheard Harold and Bud
Relive the company’s Memorial Day golf tournament
And how their wives got tipsy at the 19th hole

He directed his attention to initializing the memo outlining
Cost-cutting measures in superfluous expense categories
Like advertising and employee incentive programs

At eleven forty-five he picked up his anonymous sports bag
And looked forward to his daily noon three-mile run
Away from banality of lunchroom chit-chat on weather and the economy

As he jogged along the trail around the company Rec Center
He forced a smile when Jim the groundskeeper called out
As he always did, “Have a great run, Mr. Prufrock!”