Original writings by Adrienne Nater

Signs of my White Times


Tapping the keyboard; he mutters "White." "White?" How dare he? She is astounded; who did this officious skinny little man in an ill fitting suit, glasses low on his thin nose think he is? In this day and age? So politically incorrect? When had she become "white"? She had been identified as black, brown, silvery gray but never white. "I don’t feel white. I’d better look again." Her reflection on the Plexiglas partition at the DMV truth telling ― By God. She was white!


Several weeks later at the Pet Store: she slowly but surely lifts ten sacks of wild bird seed into the cart. Only twenty pounds per. She shoves the weighed cart to the front. Her Visa card scanned, ID requested. The young-looking clerk studies her Driver’s License, glances up, hands her the receipt. Then…"Wait a moment …I’ll call for an associate to assist you. You’ll need help unloading these heavy bags." Well, no one had been needed for the loading. "No thanks I can do it." "No, no" she insisted; "You shouldn’t be doing this, way too strenuous for you. After all, that’s what we’re here for; helping our senior customers." Must be the white hair.


It was a Tuesday early that same spring: her day at the nursery. It was like being in an unending park of absolute beauty. Every plant could be a child in her garden. She had enough children. Pulling her little red wagon directly to the section that stocked a vast selection of seedling vegetable plants: tomatoes, lettuce, peppers; she loads up, the cucumbers, onions, basil she would grow from seed. Only grow what you can eat. Hauling the wagon to the line of gardeners she waits to check out.

The clerk adds up her purchases hands her the receipt; the total far less than expected. "This can’t be correct," "Oh yes, I gave you your senior discount." The white hair!


And just a few weeks later. The parking lot at her favorite Home Depot store: takes hold of a flat bed cart, wheels it into the nursery soil amendment section. Checks prices for the best deal: the 2 ½ cubic size sacks: The stack is high; her cart is low, easy, slides off 12. The cart heavy. Nevertheless, she stubbornly pushes it forward, managing to move it toward the cash register. She hears, "Do you need some help?" "Nah, I can manage!" Just barely. "Let me call for the lot associate." She stays put. No lot associate puts in an appearance. "I can do this myself." She pushed at her cart. It moves but hardly. Idea. Drive the pick-up to the cart. Done. She backs the truck rear to cart nose. With the tail-gate lowered she reaches down to begin the laborious loading. First lifts the front end of bag one, shoves it onto the tail gate. Heaves the end of the bag into the truck bed, crawls in and shoves; climbs out to repeat the operation with bag # 2. Several shoppers rushed by. Then a hefty man wheeling his cart zips by. He stares at her as he passes looks back, stops, walks back, parks his cart, comes over, shakes his head, smiles but sadly says, "Wait lady. Let me do that. A woman of your age shouldn’t be doing this heavy loading." A woman of my age? It must be showing but how: five feet 2 ½", 108 pounds, physically fit. Umm, damn white hair.


And summer comes: pulling her surfboard from the rental rack, balancing it on her head walks to the sand. Waxes the board, attaches the leash heads out to the waves. She knows where the pockets are on the inside and outside. Surfing since she was forty she could handle herself. Thirty-five years of surfing at Waikiki. The skill, the etiquette well taught to her by her favorite beach boy, the legendary, Rabbit Kekai.

The inside waves are crowded with tourists taking lessons, splashing youngsters, easy to spot California boys. They paddle kneeling on their boards, having learned to keep their legs out of the cold mainland Pacific as long as possible. She’ll take a few warm-up rides on the far right inside away from the crowds. A great set is rolling in. Take the second, the crowds will be on the first. Paddle, paddle, dig deep, feel the rush, up, shoulders square, knees bent. "Get the Fuck out of here you damn old woman." California punk cuts her off deliberately. What the hell it is her wave. First up and on the rule. She struggles to the surface in the crash zone pounded by the churning water: gets back on her board, regains composure, heads back out. The bastard sees her, follows her, glaring, snarling something, gives her the finger.

So big deal, she paddles away to the outside. "I’m here to have fun." He follows. "Jerk!" She positions her board near one of her Hawaiian surfing buddies. "Hey Auntie, dat fella need lesson. Auntie, you take da good wave coming, I take care you safe. He no bother you no mo, I bother him." And off he went.

What a joy to be "Auntie." Respected, hooray white hair.




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