Sunday, January 13, 2008
On Christmas Day, my family went to Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. It must have been close to 80 degrees that day and the water was so blue it could bring tears to your eyes.
Now I'm back in Brooklyn and it's hard to believe I was ever in such a beautiful place. My eyes may start producing real tears any second.
There's a big snowstorm on the way tonight, or so I'm told. The weather geniuses are talking about accumulations of three to seven inches tonight and tomorrow, which will give us all yet another reason to hate Mondays.
The air is charged and cold outside; it feels like something very big is going to happen very soon, and I've got the shovel and the ice melting crystals ready to go.
I'll have to get up early to shovel or possibly go out tonight to make a preventive strike on the impending blizzard. Maybe I should stand outside all night and attack the thing flake-by-flake.
Or maybe I should just haul my ass back to Hawaii.
It's been 11 days since I traded the Big Island for the Big Apple and it's giving me a big pain.
During our visit to the national park, we learned that in old Hawaii just about every infraction was punishable by death--I guess they weren't big on rehabilitation back then.
Your only hope for survival was to get to the nearest puuhonua, or place of refuge. If you reached the sacred grounds before your would-be executioners got hold of you, your life would be spared.
It's kind an extreme game of hide-and-seek and if the writers' strike goes on much longer, it may be coming to a TV near you.
I wonder if there are puuhonua in Brooklyn.
Is There A Doctor in The House?
It's been a strange couple of days. I finally went to the doctor for my full physical , something I had been putting off for 10 months.
I don't know why it took me so long to get over there--it's only three blocks--but I let the time slip by.
I'm happy to say that all my vitals were good, but I'm sorry to say my physician was in a terrible mood.
I don't know if you've ever been examined by a cranky doctor, but you try to avoid this experience at all costs.
It seems that due to some insurance company snafu, several labs began rejecting claims for patients' various tests.
The result was that my doctor was on the hook for the money and had to take a $300,000 (!) loan from the bank in order to keep his office running.
And even so, he's thinking of shutting down his practice, which would be a shame because he is an excellent physician.
I thought about making a few jokes to cheer him up, but I don't think wisecracks are what this doctor would order at the moment and it's never a good idea to piss off the man who's giving you a physical.
I made this decision just as the doctor was slipping on a plastic glove to examine my southern hemisphere, so I'm really glad I kept my mouth shut.
The ordeal was bad enough on its own without an angry guy wearing the glove. And please, no wisecrack wisecracks, okay?
Now that I'm 50--oh, God, that hurts--I have to get a colonoscopy and I can't tell you how much I'm looking for to that little voyage to my basement plumbing.
I asked my doctor if he did this kind of thing, hoping that he did so I could work with someone I knew.
"No," he snapped. "That's for the specialists--they get the big bucks."
Okay, guy, just thought I'd ask. Can I go now? I'm glad I wasn't getting a flu shot or he'd probably start hacking away like Anthony Perkins in Psycho. Maybe he should run to the nearest puuhonua.
Roll Over and Play Stupid
Here's a little tidbit of useless information:
Did you know that when you spell check "puuhonua" that alternative suggestion is "sousaphone"? Somehow I don't think a sousaphone is going to save you from impending death...might even cause it.
I watched this lame sci-fi action DVD the other night with Rutger Hauer called Blood of Heroes. I had somehow gotten it into my head that this anemic Mad Max clone was actually some forgotten gem, but quickly learned that it deserves all the forgetfulness it receives.
I did get a good line out of it, though, when a severely injured character named Dog Boy angrily refuses to be carried by his teammates in a hammock.
"Nobody carries the Dog Boy!" he defiantly declares.
Good, boy. Stand up for yourself, even when you're unable to stand. Now roll over and play dead and we'll see about erasing this dog of a movie from your resume.
Last night I hooked up with my buds for a Thai dinner and a viewing of There Will Be Blood, an intense epic starring Daniel Day Lewis.
On the way to the theater, I made a pit stop at the Barnes & Noble store on Sixth Avenue and 21st Street.
The voice of Neil Young followed me as my way to the gents, singing "Helpless, helpless, heeelllpless..." and I saw a young policewoman standing guard near a rack of paperbacks.
My eyes drifted to her nameplate and I read one word: "Lonesome."
I was moving quickly and my eyesight is fading fast, but I'd swear that's what it said.
Was she admitting what so many of us in this eternal combustion engine of a city try so desperately to hide--that we're lonesome, that we feel like we've been set adrift inside some massive theme park with no discernible theme, nothing to grab hold of, and no way of getting out?
Or did her name just happen to be Lonesome?
"Helpless, helpless, helpless..."
I Carry A Heart
We'll never know, I guess, since by the time I came out of the men's room, Officer Lonesome was gone. It's a pity, I wanted to invite her to go to the puuhonua with me.
I could have used her help on the subway ride home. I was riding the N train and I was almost ready to get off when this woman got on at 36th Street and sat near the other end of the car.
She had bleached blond hair and a silver overcoat. She looked a little odd, and I hate saying that because it sounds so judgmental, but it was like she wasn't right in the head.
There's no logic here, just instinct. But then our eyes met and I thought she was giving me this kind of inviting look.
Look away, she's trouble, the paranoid portion of my brain said, and I did like I was told.
But then I looked again, and once more our eyes met and I got something like a look in return.
Okay, now what? Do I have the nerve to walk down half the length of a subway car and talk to a strange--potentially very strange--woman who really didn't do it for me, except for the fact that she might be interested in me and maybe save me from the Lonesome Riders?
No, I didn't have that kind of nerve. And I was okay with that, until she started talking with the guy next to her. Then I began to feel jealous and remorseful. Why didn't I have the guts to talk to her?
If she was nuts, well, I could always get off at the next stop and chalk it up to experience. But instead I hid behind my Village Voice and fumed, feeling so helpless, helpless, heeelllpless...
Please let me get to 59th Street quickly, I begged the subway gods. Please get me to the underground puuhonua. I'll even settle for a sousaphone, I don't care.
The train finally pulled into my stop and I got off. And so did she. And, worse yet, so did he, and I could hear her laughter up and down the length of the train station, proving that bleached blonds really do have more fun.
I tried reading my paper or watching the short bald guy standing on the edge of the platform move his arms back and forth as if he were tossing an invisible ball from hand to the other. Nothing doing.
I needed Office Lonesome to come and carry me away. Let Dog Boy take care of himself.
The local pulled in and the blond woman got on and then got off at my stop.
I don't know what happened to her new friend, all I know is that it wasn't me and I'm not sure how I feel about that.
I can hear the rain hitting my window now, which is how this nightmare is supposed to begin.
I'm going to go to bed soon so I can be ready for some serious shoveling tomorrow morning before work. But I won't stop looking for my puuhonua.