El gato es hilarante or Just Laugh

My friend brought his 5-year old daughter over last weekend.  I met her once before when she was three.  Her family speaks only Spanish at home and since she hasn’t started school yet, Spanish is her only language.  She has beautiful long black hair and big brown eyes, but the most striking thing about her is her smile.

 “Oh, hello,” I said when I saw her. 

“Hola,” she said with a sparkling smile, as she hugged her father’s leg.

I remembered she liked my cats the last time I saw her, so I asked, “Do you want to see the kitties?”  She just looked at me expectantly with those dark brown eyes. 

I searched my brain for that dusty file marked High School Spanish Class, and came up with, “Mira, gato?” (sight, cat).  She giggled, “si” and took my hand.  We found the cats lounging on the back deck.  She let go of my hand to pet the marmalade one.  “His name is Smiley,” I said.  I pointed to the cat, “Smiley.”

She giggled again.  “Smiley,” she said.

We wandered the yard, her hand in mine.  I named the things I could in Spanish.  She responded, “si” encouraging me.  She counted the chickens, “uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis.” 

“In English?” her father asked.

She was silent, so we helped.

“One,” we said.

“One,” she replied. 

This continued up to six because we have six chickens including the rooster.  We all laughed and applauded when we were done.  She looked at us as if we were aliens; adults celebrating the fact that we can count to six.

I had forgotten how much fun it is to teach someone to speak, and how fun it is to learn.  As I stumbled through Spanish baby talk, she didn’t judge me, she just giggled at my mistakes.  She patiently followed as I lead her across my yard naming my own things.  How strange I must seem to her, a grown woman speaking like a two-year old. 

“Donde esta’ gato,” I asked.  She shrugged her shoulders and gave me the universal, I have no idea face.  I returned the shrug and the face.  We laughed.  Isn’t it cool that laughter is universal?  When all else fails, just laugh.

Dancing Gorillas…Why not?

Monday was Valentine’s Day, and as I traveled down U.S. 40 to pay a visit to our insurance agent, I saw evidence of the commercial nature of this bright holiday.  In the parking lot of a florist shop, across from a large shopping center, I saw a man-sized, hot pink gorilla.  Against the backdrop of the florist’s neon “open” sign, the pink gorilla man kicked his heels.  He danced a little “stir the pot”, and waved his arms at passing cars to, “come on in.”  I’m not really sure what a dancing gorilla has to do with Valentine’s Day, but the parking lot was full so it appeared to be working.

Along the way, I saw shops with flowers arranged to form giant red and pink hearts in windows and vans on exit ramps with 5-gallon buckets of flowers for the lover who can’t quite commit to parking the car and walking in.  There were chocolate shops, their windows filled with red foil wrapped cardboard hearts and sandwich boards adorned with heart-shaped Mylar balloons announcing the best deal around on a dozen roses.

The over-the-top ridiculous competition to get people to spend some cash on one day out of the year made me giggle and the gorilla made me laugh out loud.  But, one sight that day made my heart swell.

In a neighborhood that had seen better days; the clapboard buildings in need of paint and curbs still wearing weeds from last fall, I saw a young man, probably a teen.  He wore his hair shaved close to his head and jeans three sizes too big, belted mid-thigh.  He had the hood  of his over sized sweatshirt pulled over his head, but I could still see the firm set of his jaw as he walked down the street.  He had just left a florist shop with a large bundle of red roses wrapped in Valentine red tissue paper.  He carried the bundle in one hand, held out from his body as if it might burst into flames any moment.  Carrying flowers, it appears, didn’t fit his Eminem emulating image.

A crazy day of commercialism inspired this guy to step way outside his comfort zone and into a flower shop.  I hope he was on a personal mission that day, taking that bundle to someone he loves.  I like to imagine that the tough-looking young man I saw along US 40 on Valentine’s Day has a tender place in his heart.

But, I want to do everything!

I don’t like to tell people, “No.”  I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I don’t like them or don’t want to spend time with them, so when I‘ve been invited to two activities at the same time, I feel conflicted.  I feel frustrated and put-out because there are so many options for things to do.  How crazy is that?  I should be thankful for the many friendships I have and the opportunity to live life with these people.  Not overwhelmed because I can’t do everything.  So, thank you God, for the friendships I have with lots of different people with different interests and busy lives.

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed.  I have an interesting job and a boss who pushes me to use my gifts and continue learning instead of sitting on the sidelines.  My husband owns a successful business and requires my support.  I have great kids who have active lives and need my attention.  Put all those great things together and a household to run and I find very little time to just “be.”  So I give thanks for a healthy, busy, and fulfilling life.  But seriously, God, a few more hours in the day would be great.