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.