Like most people, I have a cell phone. Everyone in our house does. It’s come to the point where the only people who call our house line are elderly relatives who think it costs too much to call a cell phone—and telemarketers.
I know all about do not call lists and escalating to call center managers and saying phrases like do not call again, take me off your list, and no matter how many times you call I will not donate/buy/recommend your product/service/time share. With all the loopholes that basically come down to if I’ve used, thought about, or stood in the vicinity of their product, they can call me, it’s a losing battle.
Since I work from home, I’m the one who answers most of the telemarketing calls, about three or so a month. I used to hate them, but now they go something like this:
Long pause while the telemarketer rushes to unmute the mic and swallow coffee, surprised by a live person on the end of the line. “Good afternoon! Is um, La…Lei…um, Ms. Parker available?”
Now I know it’s a telemarketer. Even my ninety-two year old grandmother can say my name.
“Carlotta Tuskadora! Don’t even try!” I snarl.
“You can call from a different number, but I still know it’s you! He’s not leaving me, you hear? I don’t care if the paternity tests came back positive. Those twins are your problem, not mine!”
“Ma’am? I think—”
“You may be my half-sister, but he’s my boyfriend! We’re getting married and moving to Toronto. I’ll get my operation there, and then we’ll see who’s the fat one!”
“That’s right you don’t! The solicitation charges didn’t stick; judge gave me probation, so you can just forget about me going to county lock-up any time soon.”
“Don’t call again, Carly, or I’m calling the cops. Oh, yeah. Tell Mama I said hey.”
And then I hang up.
It’s even more fun if the telemarketer is a dude!
Less, if it turns out it really was my ninety-two year old grandma.
After a welcoming oli, Kumu Hula Barcarse taught us about the Hawaiian alphabet through a song and hula I learned when I was their age! These talented kids performed using kala’au (wooden sticks) and niu (coconut shells) and chanted and sang as they danced. One of the crowd favorites was a lively Samoan dance accompanied by Kumu’s ‘ukulele. For some of the kids, at four years old, it was their first ever performance. (Special aloha goes out to the Dads who performed with their kids. You guys get my vote for Father of the Year.)
Too bad Aunty was so busy watching na keiki, she only got a few photos!
“Clowns!” He shuddered as we walked up the steps.
“Yeah. I told you it was a circus.”
“You’ve taken me to the circus. I remember the circus. Lots of red and gold. Elephants. Tigers. Girls in skimpy clothing sparkling on a trapeze.” He gestured to the posters lining the walls. “Who in their right mind does a clowns-only circus?”
“Not orange wigged with big red noses and floppy shoes,” I said. “More refined. Think Marcel Marceau.”
“French clowns,” he glowered.
“French Canadian,” I said. “There’s a difference.”
“Uh, probably not,” I said as I spotted a mime stalking a level below us, randomly plucking people from their seats, adjusting a tie, flirting with a pretty girl, rubbing a bald man’s head for luck. “Here,” I said, handing him some cash, “Go get a snack.”
“Aaron still wearing his costume?” my husband Kevin asked as our son slipped down the aisle.
“Yeah. Surly Teenager,” I said, referring back to my response a few days ago when the kids’ piano teacher asked about Aaron’s non-costume at the Halloween recital.
“He really hates clowns,” Kevin mused.
“Goes back to the Halloween when he was two and the clown waiter at Olive Garden honked his nose at him. It’s like he has a big neon sign with an arrow over his head and a target on his back. Remember the rodeo clown this summer? Chased Aaron all the way up the bleachers pretending to steal his fries.”
“The audience thought Aaron was joking back,” I said.
“Not me. I saw the terror in his eyes when he realized the clown was following him up the stairs.”
I shrugged. “He might have been playing along.”
Kevin scoffed. “Playing? Try panic. He shrieked like a girl with a spider in her hair and sprinted to the top trailing fries and ketchup.”
“His seat was up there,” I said.
“Jeff was up there. Don’t you remember? Jeff stood up and Aaron cowered behind him.”
I smiled. “That’s what 6’6” uncles are for. Plus it got a big laugh.” I frowned. “Maybe sending him to get a snack wasn’t such a good idea.”
“Clowns. He hates them,” said my husband warming to his topic like a preacher on Sunday. “He’d rather swim with sharks.”
“That can be arranged,” I said.
A little while later Aaron was back in his seat munching on popcorn, the mime was safely backstage, and the house lights dimmed. A spotlight shone on a bored young girl meandering in a living room while her parents read the paper and ignored the thunderstorm outside. A headless giant carrying an enormous umbrella knocked on the door, entered, and handed the girl his hat.
“I don’t get it,” whispered my daughter Cheryl in my ear.
“Shhhhh!” I said. “Just watch.”
The giant left, the girl put the hat on her head, and Cirque du Soleil’s version of the Cat in the Hat with Thing 1 and Thing 2 in tow appeared next, tilting the world sideways. The living room furniture with parents still seated flew to the rafters while a German guy inside a silver ring started spinning center stage.
“What? What’s going on?” Anxiety and confusion rained down as Cheryl practically climbed into my lap.
“It’s all her imagination! Shhhhh! Watch!” I growled.
“She’s got one messed up mind if this is her imagination,” muttered Cheryl, slinking back to her chair.
Cheryl pestered. What was going on, why were all these weird people on stage, and how come the girl’s parents didn’t react to any of it? She wanted to get a handle on the story. An evening at the Cirque is more like a concert than a play. Cheryl’s not mentally wired for a theme thinly disguised as a plot, something that exists to conveniently link all the pieces together as they explore concepts as squishy as imagination and childhood play. She’s my tenacious one, the one least easily distracted, the one who prods what’s on her plate, always wanting chicken to look like chicken and to hold all the sauces, please. Taking my cue from the high-flying parents now sinking out of sight behind the orchestra, I ignored her.
And it did. I watched my kids get drawn into the performances, relaxing and letting their guards down as the colors, sounds, and energy washed over them. They stopped worrying and thinking and began experiencing. Crafted and honed so that the impossible seemed effortless, the acts were splendid, building thrills and laughter throughout the show in stormy rollercoaster waves. It was, quite simply, wonderful.
And Aaron’s favorite part? The scenes with the clowns and audience participation!
One Boy, No Water, Book 1 in the Niuhi Shark Saga, will be available in stores and online September 29, 2012. The series is set in Hawaii and tells the story of Zader, an 11 year old boy, and his adventures as he discovers who—and what—he really is. Most of the descriptions of island life in the series are true. However, in some areas Aunty Lehua may have stretched the truth just a little bit. Here’s the real scoop about customizing a surfboard using paint pens.
In One Boy, No Water…
You can customize a surfboard with paint pens, a few basic supplies, and a little imagination.
The real scoop…
It really is that easy to create your own works of art on a surfboard! There are many sites on the internet that give step by step instructions on how to repair and customize surfboards using paint pens and spray guns. Check ‘em out.
In about a week I will be back on Hawaiian beaches, scrunching my toes in the sand, and yelling at my kids to watch out for portagee-man-o-war, not sharks, and to put on more sunscreen. Always with the sunscreen. I’ve got some research projects lined up and plan to take literally thousands of pictures so I can show you, Dear Reader, all of the delightful things I miss and love most about my island home.
And then there’s the food.
Yes, you can find Asian markets on the mainland. You can even order poi over the internet. But the real island flavors come alive when marinated in the humid, salty-sweet atmosphere of Hawaii. None of the recipes taste quite the same on the mainland. Believe me, I’ve tried.
When I talk to others who are living far from their native homes, there is always a dish that they long for, a little comfort food that they can taste with their eyes closed. Food means family and friends and a little bite of home can trigger all those complicated and wonderful feelings, transporting us back to time when we couldn’t see over the tabletop.
My husband teases me that we eat our way around the island, stopping at little hole in the wall places to sample everything from manaupua to shave ice to guri-guri to malasadas. My son just opens his mouth and swallows it all and often goes for seconds or thirds or fourths with the gluttony of a bottomless teenage male. My daughter is much more cautious. She sniffs at things, pokes at them, nibbles at the edges, often saying no thank you until I can get her to actually try a bite. But put some music on and she’s out there swaying and swinging her hula hips with the best of them.
Funny how that works.
What food that says home to you?
Last week I slipped into the Twilight Zone. It was an ordinary day at my computer when my cell phone rang. I glanced at the screen and saw an 808 number—Hawaii! Don’t know the number, but maybe it’s somebody calling about the book!
Double-blink. The words were slurred and so fast and unexpected it took a minute for my brain to switch gears and recognize Pidgin.
“Barry? You want to talk to Barry?” Said way too haole.
Longer pause, then slower, “Get Barry dere?”
“I’m sorry. You have the wrong number.”
We hung up.
I sat staring at my phone for a minute wondering what the odds where that such a misconnection would happen, thinking of the long ago commercial where somebody trying to call across town ends up talking to someone on the beach in Fiji.
I bet he dialed 801 instead of 808. Or a joke? One of my old friends playing a joke? But they’d have said something, surely.
I’d made it to the living room holding my cell phone before it rang again. 808! Same number. Here we go!
“Um, can talk to Barry?”
“Eh, cuz, I tink you get da wrong numbah. You like talk Barry, yeah?”
“Barry stay Hawaii, yeah?”
“You calling Utah, brah. Dis one Utah numbah.”
“Oh. Okay. T’anks.”
I hung up the phone and looked up the stairs to see my daughter standing there, mouth open and catching flies. “Who was that?”
“Barry’s friend. He like talk story.”
“Never mind. Wrong number.”
“Mom that was so funny! I never knew you could talk like that! So fast!”
“Why were you speaking Pidgin?”
“Because he was.”
“Say some more!”
My son came around the corner. “You mean you got a wrong number from Hawaii and the guy spoke Pidgin? What’s up with that?”
“Da-na-na-na, da-na-na-na,” he sang, the theme from The Twilight Zone.
Tell me about it. Wonder what Barry’s friend thought when he heard Kahului tita coming via Utah?
The Hunger Games movie opens this weekend. My kids and I been waiting for over a year to see how this story and characters transition to the screen, sighing or exclaiming over every casting choice and set design chronicled in Entertainment Weekly. Wanting to be surprised, my son has refused to watch any trailers and has resorted to sticking his fingers in his ears when the ads come on tv.
I just finished re-reading the series and fell in love with Suzanne Collins’s imagination and writing style all over again. Like all really good fiction, it’s a story that can be read on many levels. It’s a little unfortunate that the one generating the most buzz around the tween and teen sets is about the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale.
This is particularly frustrating to Aaron, my 14-year-old son. “Did any of these people actually read the book? Team Peeta? Team Gale? Get real.”
Cheryl, my 12-year-old daughter agrees. “This is not about the boys. It’s not even about the girl and the boys. It’s about Katniss. I hope the movie doesn’t screw that up.”
Me too. While The Hunger Games is ultimately a story about love, it’s not about the kind of teenage puppy love that features so prominently in Young Adult fiction. Aloof and prickly Katniss loves deeply; it is her greatest strength and weakness; it is her weapon and her shield. The arch villains in the novel—Snow and Coin—don’t understand love and that ultimately leads to each of their downfalls. Snow fails to understand that “forbidden” love is the biggest form of rebellion and galvanization to action, and Coin, well, what can you say about someone who thinks marriage is no more than a new housing assignment? It’s an epic failure on both their parts to understand that what motivates Katniss is not power, political change, safety, or even fear of death. It’s love for those she calls family that motivates Katniss to greatness, that throws her into a spotlight she’d rather not seek. As Machiavellian as some of her actions are, it’s her underlying motivation of love for her family that elevate her character into a real three-dimensional personality and out of the clichés of so much of Young Adult fiction.
Katniss is a pawn, but a pawn with teeth and claws. She can be manipulated, yet also understands something of the dance of illusion versus reality she has to move through to survive in Panem. She wastes very little time bemoaning how unfairly life in the Districts compares with the Capitol. Collins is a master of showing the contrasts and letting the reader come to the logical conclusion. Katniss doesn’t deal with what should be; she deals with what is right in front of her, and this keeps the novels from bogging down into an Orwellian treatise on human nature while still developing much deeper themes than survival and teen romance.
I can’t recall another character in fiction quite like her. Team Katniss anyone?
Remember those timed reading tests in elementary school? At high tech Kahului Elementary in 2nd grade, I remember my teacher pushing play on a cassette tape and then watching me as I read aloud and moved my finger along the text, keeping pace with the voice on the cassette. She held bent soda bottle caps in her hands and each time you met one of the milestones, she’d set one down on your desk. When you had three you were done. In the spirit of those timed tests, here’s a link where you can check out your reading speed. Apparently I’m still above Diamond Head Lemon-Lime, but not yet to Shhtrawbarry. Bummahs!
- I already did the dishes.
- Frizzy? When you say frizzy I think Bozo the Clown. That’s not frizzy at all.
- What? That little thing? It’s so small I don’t think anyone noticed.
- A Lifetime movie? Sure, I’ll watch the game later.
- Wow, your toes are cold! Don’t go higher than my knees.
- I hung your laundry in the closet.
- I like it a little burnt.
- I’ll get up with the kids.
- I put new tires on your car.
- I saved the last one for you.
How does your significant someone say I love you? Happy Valentine’s Day!