Thursday, May 7, 2009

8 Bucks and the Streets of Taichung

There’s this line from Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Jimmy Stewart is all banged up and in a cast and wheelchair and he’s talking about his life and he sums it up so succinctly, “I’m this guy, unshaven with two week’s salary in the bank.” Now, I’m like twelve or thirteen the first time I saw that movie on a rainy Saturday afternoon on channel 12, one of many long Saturdays with the SORRY and MONOPOLY board laying on the floor and a half eaten grilled cheese on a plastic plate, snug in an afghan on the living room couch thinking, old Jimmy Stewart with his hew’s and haw’s has got it made, man. He takes pictures of race cars and charging rhinos and he’s got Grace Kelly coming to his apartment with picnic baskets and silken overnight garments and that’s the life, isn’t it? Well, I was twelve, what did I really know?
But that line has always stuck with me, “Unshaven with two week’s salary in the bank.” Man, I used to think that was cool.
So today I hit it. I pounded the pavement, out in the dry heat and the racing traffic with eight bucks in my pocket. Today I helped a woman pushing a stroller up on the curb and wrote a letter at the post office while standing in line. I crossed the grass to stand in the sun and watched two guys play catch with gloves, when the ball got past I struck out the one in a trucker hat after his buddy caught the foul tip on the first pitch. I bought a bag of three Fuji apples in the market, a ream of paper to finish printing all 341 pages, then returned back to the apartment where both my eldest girls have bronchitis. We play this adventure game where My Little Pony has been kidnapped from the Fisher Price Summer House and the two Barbies are called in to solve the case. Sure they have minor eating disorders and are not in the most giving relationships, but they’re cool under pressure, and carry wardrobe changes. My girls like that. We climb under the bed and in and out of the walk-in closet to ask the panda backpack advice and he sends us to the stuffed Barney that if you push his paw sings nursery rhymes, and… well, we get distracted here. Somehow we end up coloring a treasure map to find a bottle cap I buried in the park two weeks before with an acorn, and then it’s tickle ants on the bed, dinner, bath, story time and night night.
Then the house is quiet for the first time since 5 a.m., and I start thinking about Jimmy Stewart, and then, well ah shucks, I guess I can never be twelve years old again, huh?

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