paxil vobiscum
146-151
152-158
159-165
life after paxil
166-173
something's happening here
174-176
maybe tuesday will be my good news day
177-186
these are the good old days
187-190
191-194
195-199
another moon of the tiger: don't think twice
200-209
on the threshold of the anniversary
210-214

-----

130

Sharing food with the birds is more noble than offering food to the gods.

130a

I decided I didn't like the original Tale 130 so took it down after a couple of hours for some re-arranging and editing, put up the aphorism which is now Tale 130 instead. Is it really an aphorism? A new section for the Tales? Probably not the latter, anyway, because if you start to think in aphoristic form, the mind gets very silly quite soon.

The off-line weekend, the short library hours during the week, and the even longer off-line weekend ahead, plus the comparatively deserted campus, makes for a time quite unlike anything in these almost-eight months of nomadic life. And writing about the events of several days instead of the usual daily commentary changes the nature of writing the Tales.

So amidst the strangeness of the time, it was comforting to have Rocky sleeping on the bench beside me on Monday and Tuesday nights, after a longer absence than usual, and it was an interesting experiment spending all day on Saturday in the mall, encountering so many people I knew that it made Honolulu seem like a very small town indeed.

Viktor and Bobby, from McDonald's, were the first people I ran into, outside the restaurant; then I spotted another Bobby, from the group Kolea, and shortly afterwards saw Jake Shimabukuro. I went upstairs over Center Stage for the Ilona Irvine set, saw Mamaloa get up and dance, so went downstairs to say hello to her and sat beside her on the floor at one side of the stage. Bruce Howard came over and joined us and we both got fed Famous Amos cookies (after I declined the offer of a full plate lunch which they'd given Mamaloa at Patti's Chinese Kitchen). Kory K turned up for the Pure Heart gig and after chatting with him and Bruce afterwards, then going on my way, I ran into Myra. Panther the Mall Rat.

Someone brought a box of food from 7-Eleven and left it outside McDonald's. It was mostly sandwiches that were dated the last day of sale, but there was also a beef bowl concoction which was mostly rice, and some pastries. I grabbed the beef bowl, two sandwiches and two pieces of cake just in time before some of the other nomads spotted the box and quickly emptied it out. Very kind of someone to have dropped it off there. Then I found a bag with a can of corned beef, tuna fish and a can which is probably sardines but was missing the label, so I put the tuna in my backpack with the 7-Eleven goodies and stashed the other two cans away in a hiding place which has come in handy several times before.

Cigarettes were in short supply ... it seemed there was always a cleaning person a few steps ahead of me. So I ended up walking down to Ward Centre and Warehouse to get the evening supply of tobacco, picking up a bottle of Mickey's at the new 7-Eleven, and then finding a huge salad with chunks of chicken abandoned at the Centre. It seemed as if I'd spent the entire day eating, and was still feeling hungry. Maybe the body wants the two pounds back it lost last week, because appetite has been unusually strong. That's not very good timing, considering the scarcity of abandoned plate lunch boxes on campus this week.

Sunday morning I decided to go to Waikiki for a change, did a tobacco run through the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and then sat outside the Zoo for awhile, trying to spot someone who might buy the two free passes I have or else someone I wanted to just give them to. Didn't see likely candidates for either, so crossed over to use the lua and ran into a long-time friend and/or enemy, depending on the circumstances, and had a cup of coffee with him and a chat about health problems and on-line madness.

Monday morning I had gone, as usual, to get a cup of senior coffee from the Ward Avenue Jack-in-the-Box and crossed the street to sit at the sheltered bus-stop. A white pick-up pulled over nearby and a man got out carrying two white bags. It looked like he was going to dump them in the wastebasket which seemed rather odd. Instead, it turned out to be a notable webmaster who was kindly stopping to bring me breakfast. Breakfast Jack, hash browns and another cup of coffee, delivered! A most excellent start to the strange week of no school.

The bonanza of discarded books continued on campus and Monday morning I found a very large paperback volume which is an overall survey of world religions, giving a fairly detailed history of all the major ones with chapters discussing off-shoots and less orthodox varieties. It is a special edition, with a chapter on Hawaiian religion added. The book was far too heavy to lug around, so I broke it into chapters, put three in my bag and stashed the rest for later, then sat in the grove, read the Hawaiian material and began the chapter on Hinduism, with its pre-Vedic and Vedic forerunners. The book takes a very neutral, unbiased stance and is well-written, a welcome discovery. I don't feel at all touched by Hawaiian mythology or religion, at least not via any sources I've encountered yet, and this one is no exception.

The chapter on Hinduism was the inspiration for that aphorism. Finishing that, I went on to the chapter on Christianity which is particularly interesting in its tracing of the earliest developments and the possible paths that religion might have taken. Some cleaning person got too thorough and the chapters I had stashed were gone on Tuesday, so I'm left with just Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism. More than enough religion for any one person, any one life.

130b

Tuesday evening I was walking along Ward Warehouse, passed one of the Japanese trolley stops where a trolley was parked and the driver standing beside it. There was a dollar bill laying in the grass near the sidewalk, so I picked it up. The driver said with a grin, "I suppose you won't believe it if I told you I just dropped that." "Nope, I sure wouldn't."

That unexpected bonus to my rather empty pockets, plus three dimes found earlier in the walk, revived the old Free Mickey's game on Wednesday morning when, after a senior coffee, I was only missing twenty cents. The Angel of the Coins provided the missing links so Wednesday was off to a fine start as a Lucky Day. But then, despite the rationed on-line time and the relatively deserted campus, it has been very much a Lucky Week. One of the few real worries I've had recently was over my too-overdue bill from LavaNet and a mainland friend and admirer of the Tales astonished and delighted me by eliminating that worry. As I said, it is a bit crazy that I can walk around feeling hungry and neither worry much about it nor consider appealing to anyone for assistance, but the thought of losing access to panther@lava.net was definitely a worry.

Hunger hasn't played the role I thought it might this week, either, although it has been unprecedented to have actually spent more money on food than on beer. As I was leaving campus on Wednesday, after a day spent mostly playing MUD, I found an abandoned plate lunch container which hadn't been eaten at all ... broccoli and beef, roast chicken, noodles and bits of chicken, and brown rice. As if that weren't huge enough a meal, I ran into Helen R. whom I was supposed to meet later at the Varsity Theatre and we went to Sushi No Ka Oi for my second encounter with sushi. (The first such adventure was a couple of years ago when K.M. introduced me to that odd culinary custom, at a sushi bar where a man stood behind the counter and prepared each item). Sushi No Ka Oi is more of a variation on the Manhattan automats, except the dishes move around the counter on a long narrow conveyor belt providing an endless spectacle (and puzzle) while sampling the more interesting specimens. Having only just finished that huge plate lunch, I didn't sample many things but it was interesting nonetheless and made even more enjoyable when the owner left the restaurant briefly and returned with a large complimentary can of Budweiser.

By then thoroughly stuffed, we joined another friend and went to see "Mrs. Dalloway", a charming and elegant film based on Virginia Woolf's admirable novel, with a splendid performance by Vanessa Redgrave in the title role. I was grateful Honolulu is at least cosmopolitan enough to offer the chance to see such a film in a cinema; undoubtedly many mainland residents will have to wait until it arrives on television via "Masterpiece Theatre". My favorite moments of the film, aside from greatly enjoying familiar scenes in London, were those when we overheard Mrs. Dalloway's thoughts, especially when greeting guests at the party which is the centerpiece of the novel and film. All of us walk around talking in our heads like that. How fortunate it is people cannot, consciously at least, hear what we are saying.

Rocky didn't come home, but Curly did and took the bench behind mine. Someone really annoyed the Big Local Dude at one point. No idea what the fellow did, because the B.L.D. is generally very quiet and polite, but he was well riled up and the offender quickly left the premises. "This is Hawai`i and I am Hawaiian," said the B.L.D. amidst more strongly worded phrases directed at the departing offender. That's the first such disturbance I've seen at the hacienda. The B.L.D. definitely adds much to the feeling of security at that sanctuary.

Lucky day, lucky week, lucky panther ... and the Moon moved into Aries.

131

One of my favorite ladies in the world told Kory and me on Thursday evening that she had stopped reading my Tales and his journal because they were too "depressing". Can't blame her for that. The week before at the Clinic, the psychiatrist mentioned that one component of the study was something called the Hamilton Scale of Depression (giving me an instant inner grin from the synchronicity with my main hangout, Hamilton Library). He said my score on the scale was lower that week than it had been the week before, lower meaning less depressed. I told a friend I'd have to work on getting a higher score. Hey, I was just joking! But without trying at all and, in fact, quite surprising me, I had the highest score yet on Thursday. That's a more subtle measuring tool than I had thought.

He partly answered my earlier ponderings about letting truly depressed people (I don't think of myself as one, you see) continue with a program which might just be sugar pills by offering to let me switch to another study. Sugar pills or not, he said they were seeing no significant results in any of the participants. Maybe it's just a dud drug. (He didn't say that, but did say "I don't know what that says for the company making it"). I said I might as well carry on with this study, having gotten this far. And I've reached the point where it goes two weeks without a visit to the Clinic. Very bad timing from the financial viewpoint. A double payment in the first week of the month will come at a time when least needed. Oh well ...

Myra told me that since her birthday was the next day, she really hoped I'd be at the Regent for Genoa on Thursday evening. Given that the $15 blood money has to be stretched until the pension check arrives, I certainly wouldn't have considered spending $2.50 on the weekly special, but only 12oz, beer at the Regent, knowing, too, that I'd be buying one for her as well. But after thinking about it, I decided I wanted to do what I could to make her evening special even if I ended up spending it all. It's only money.

Leaving campus, I saw I had just missed both a #4 and a #6 bus, so I hopped on an express bus even though I had no idea where I'd end up. Minutes later, after a quick zoom down the highway, I was at Kahala Mall. First time I'd been there in many months, but hardly closer to my destination. The timing was right, though, because a Waikiki-bound bus came along fairly soon. There are some incredibly tacky, ostentatious houses along that road on the "backside" of Diamond Head. I'd not noticed before a few adorned in truly amazing bad taste. I was surprised by how brown and dry everything is on that side of Diamond Head. With the amount of rain we've had in recent weeks, it's a puzzle.

Spending time with Genoa Keawe and her crew is always a pleasure and this week's was especially so. Kory K generously helped with the festivities for Myra and she was one very happy lady by the end of the evening. I told Alan Akaka about it being her birthday, so she even got the traditional serenade and danced to several songs. No one deserves the good time more ... Myra is truly one sweet lady.

After I left and headed off to the bench I was feeling very annoyed with myself, though. I thought my own performance was lousy. And that's the key word: "performance". All my life, I've felt like that about almost everything. It isn't real, I'm not really living it but am just an actor playing a role. Sometimes the performance is passably okay, other times it stinks. And there ain't no critic in this world who is as tough on me as I am on myself.

132

One of the questions on that Hamilton Scale of Depression asks if one has had "paranoid feelings". Despite joking to friends about saying "yes, the cleaning people at Ala Moana Shopping Center are out to get me", I've always answered "no" to that question. There was a time when I simply didn't believe at all in "paranoia", subscribing to the idea that "you're not paranoid, they really are out to get you", and I still believe that to an extent. But I have met people who were genuinely, even pathologically paranoid, so have to admit it is a state of mind which exists and, in cases where it is genuinely paranoia as I understand the term, does involve an unrealistic perception that one is the object of unjust persecution, or may be. Even so, no, I have not had "paranoid feelings", so can't boost my score on the Scale without lying about it. What some might see as paranoid feelings in my case is merely the perception that some people do wildly misinterpret me and misunderstand not only my past history but my current existence and motives for doing things and attempt to use that against me and to persuade others that their views are a reflection of the truth. The more unconventional one's life is, the more one no doubt attracts such interpreters. So be it.

I've actually led a very conservative life and continue to do so. I'm probably one of the most conservative "homeless people" in Honolulu.

That's partly why the start of the Summer Session at the University is a mixed blessing. It's wonderful to have the students back again after the week's break (and the unprecedented three-day off-line weekend). There are more abandoned plate lunches, more lengthy cigarette butts in the ashtrays, more delightfully charming young men to enjoy watching. But there are also students lingering by every tempting ashtray. So I left campus at mid-day to replenish my empty cigarette box from the ever-abundant supply at Ala Moana. A bolder nomad would just have filled his box from the campus ashtrays and ignored those who noticed.

The Summer Session isn't quite like the "real" school year. Both libraries will be closed on Saturday and both operate with shorter hours, as do all the food establishments on campus. Compared to the break, it seems like there are a lot of people around, but it is a smaller population than in the fall and spring (even if they all sometimes seem to hang around promising ashtrays).

In any case, I'm increasingly fed-up with the smoking problem and wish I could just stop. Perhaps I'll change my going-on-nine-year wish to "star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight" and wish to stop smoking tobacco instead of wishing for "peace and happiness in Honolulu".

132a

Someday he'll come along, the man I love. And he'll be walking dog, the man I love ...

Indication of what a silly mood I woke up in on Wednesday morning, a welcome change from recent times when I woke feeling mentally bleak and physically weary.

I don't really want to quit smoking, I enjoy tobacco too much. But I would like to reduce its importance to that of other (oddly, even more desirable) substances which I enjoy when I can get them and don't fret over when I can't. (Of course, if campus ashtrays were as loaded with marijuana as they are with tobacco, wouldn't matter how many students were standing around, I'd be pushing them aside to get to that ashtray).

The highlights of the long weekend ...

Mornings on the beach, enjoying the sun and the early beach-goers before the large crowds arrived, splashing in the ocean. I forgot about eating on Saturday, had a Mickey's outside the Shell while listening to the Makaha Bash (Pure Heart were very good, as always), then had another Mickey's for a nightcap and consequently, on empty stomach, got fairly drunk. So much for Saturday.

After another few hours on the beach Sunday morning, went to see "Godzilla". Big-monster movies have never been one of my favorite genres but since this was done by the ID4 team, I was expecting better than usual and it was. I think they made a fundamental mistake by allowing the monster to have such prolific powers of reproduction, even if "ultimate threat to mankind's existence" seems to be one of their favorite themes. It made any sympathy for the monster quite impossible and that would have added another layer to the story's impact. They went a little overboard with the totally implausible, as well, but there was no shortage of that in ID4 either. In any case, an entertaining film.

That was followed by "Shear Madness" at the Manoa Valley Theatre, also quite entertaining and amusing. Then back to the totally implausible with "Deep Space Nine" on television and a story which thoroughly violated not only quantum physics but the generally established traditions of sci-fi "science".

Monday morning it was back to the beach until early afternoon when Kory K gave me an in-depth education on the subject of "South Park". It's better than I thought, Monty Python continued with an American flavor reminiscent more of MAD magazine than Beavis and Butthead. Easy to see why it has become so major a current pop-culture icon.

Radio on Sunday morning provided an amusing hour in tribute to Bob Dylan's birthday by playing all the worst Dylan covers, including the truly classic horror with William Shatner doing "Tambourine Man". Monday evening the 25th anniversary of the release of the Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" rated a special broadcast which included all the original tracks, interviews and background information.

And when Tuesday morning finally rolled around, I found I hadn't really missed being on-line as much as I had expected. But it's a major see-saw of a time, up-down, up-down from one minute to the next as we moved into the Fifth Moon of the Tiger and the ever-dreaded days before the Fabled Pension Check arrives.

132b

Such a strange day, the first Wednesday of the Fifth Moon of the Tiger. Starting with that silly mood, encountering that extraordinarily handsome young man walking his dog on Kapiolani Boulevard ... finding a box of odd "vegetable rolls" (chopped veggies in a tortilla) but no beer ... finding what Kory K later identified as a Chinese coin with "100" on it and then later a piece of paper looking like Chinese money with "One Hundred Dollars" and "Hell Bank Note" the only English on it (later identified by Nathan as Chinese funeral money) ... speaking, at last, to the famous Cat Man of the UH Manoa campus to let him know about the new family of kittens at Krauss Hall ... listening to Kory K chat with a bona fide BMOC, another Hilo lad, and enjoying every moment of it ... reading the current Honolulu Weekly in the secluded grove while consuming a bottle of Mickey's and a couple of those vegetable rolls ... stopping in Manoa Garden and having a totally delightful time with Bryant the Bartender, learning he, too, was born in Hilo ... going to Kory's to see "South Park".

Who would've thought, after all these years, anyone would still remember Ayn Rand at all, much less take the trouble to so wittily flame her. My sincere compliments to the creators of "South Park".

Going off to the bench with my flask full of Heineken as a nightcap, being greeted by a cute young newcomer ... watching the Big Local Dude and his lady arrive, then the Snorer. The clouds and stars, the warm air making it possible to stash the sweatshirt, hopefully until autumn.

Life goes on, within and without you ...

133

"This weekend is one of those rare times to put aside some of your worries and appreciate the friends you have. And treasures they are."

Thus spake the lady filling in for Jonathan Cainer while he took a week's vacation. I kept her advice in mind all weekend and did my best to put aside not just some but ALL of my worries. Friends, most accurately described above, helped considerably with that effort even if it was not totally successful.

What? Me worry?

In front of him in the middle of a vast clearing, enormous white pierrots were jumping about like rabbits in the moonlight.

I decided I needed to vary my reading material and settled upon a plan of acquiring, from time to time, any volumes of potentially (or known) interesting material available at Rainbow Books for under one dollar. The first expedition based on this new strategy yielded Against Nature [A Rebours] by Joris-Karl Huysmans and Time Must Have a Stop by Aldous Huxley. The Huysmans I have not read in four decades; the Huxley I discovered for the first time moldering in an old book cabinet at a YWCA in an India hill-station and was particularly delighted to see again.

But I began with the Huysmans and was immediately reminded that a book (or long story?) I have been writing in my head for several weeks is more closely related to this outrageous book than I had remembered; the connection had not even occurred to me. I wonder if Huysmans spent as long a time mulling over the details of his secluded sanctuary as I have spent on my fantasized one? His is far too heavy for my tastes and I would never burden a tortoise with gilded shell adorned with precious gems to set off a splendid, if too untrodden, oriental carpet. Better to pluck from a rift in the fabric of time a floor covering properly aged and worn. But then Huysmans was less ambitious and far more determined to imagine himself as truly decadent.

Huysmans, though, was a man after my own heart, as they say. No one, but no one, has ever flamed the British as delicately and as successfully as he did in his account of his aborted expedition to that magic island. No one has more absurdly chronicled the existence of an over-educated man drowning in ennui (and he was wayyyyyyyyyyy out beyond me on that score). Already he has made me laugh aloud twice.

That patriarchal legend of the San Jose on-line community, N.B, arrived in Honolulu on Friday so I went down to Waikiki at noon to meet him in Duke's. I've really tried very hard to break my addiction to that bar but almost instantly realized that sometimes paying four times as much to drink beer is worth it and returned again on my own Saturday afternoon, confirming that notion. Those were the days, those months of spending almost every afternoon sitting at the bar at Duke's, meeting people from every corner of the world, enjoying the ocean vista, the ever delightful staff, and a beer or six or seven. On Friday I also enjoyed a strangely yuppie roast turkey and avocado sandwich, ridiculously overpriced (as is most of the food at that still-admired establishment), and a long, thoroughly interesting conversation with one of the most intelligent men it has been my honor to meet.

N.B. is a difficult person, though, for me. He's not only unusually intelligent, he has managed to plan and live his life, or at least these latter years of it, with perceptive sensitivity and an emphasis on not only his own welfare but that of a number of people who have earned his consideration. He'd probably like for me to be one of those people, but I've never found the way to earn it, not to my satisfaction or to his. There is much in common between the way I think of N.B. and K.M., especially when it concerns "living up to". They are two men I have simply not been able to decently justify knowing; that is to say, out of my league. This doesn't stop me from immensely enjoying their company even while thinking I haven't done a damned thing to deserve it and no doubt never shall.

After a few hours at Duke's, we wandered on down to the Shorebird and then finally to the new Starbucks at the Discovery Bay complex where I had what they oddly call "Iced Chai Tea Latte". Since "chai" means "tea", I'm not sure who dreamed up that title or why, but it was delicious.

I was only slightly drunk, but very tired, so went on to the bench for an early night, tuned in to the less-classical NPR station just in time for an hour profile of Billie Holiday. Bring out the bottle of wine ... or in this case, Mickey's. Whatta dame ...

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

The beer gardens were overflowing on Saturday morning (although not until Monday did it get totally outrageous when a twelve-pack of Bud Ice was abandoned with only four cans missing) and, as mentioned, I set out to Duke's in the late afternoon for a delightful couple of hours in the company of the always-amusing Jackson the Bartender and a very large black Marine as the main drinking buddy. Jackson and I encouraged him to try a shot of Jagermeister, which he'd never tasted before, and the poor fellow not long after vanished to the men's room, never returning. Then I crossed the street headed for the Food Court at the International Marketplace and encountered N.B. just inside the entrance, bound for the same destination. Dennis and Kawika Kamakahi with BB Shawn were as enjoyable as they always are, and it was sad to learn it was Ellen's last night as booking agent for the venue. She has done a great job with a limited budget to provide interesting local music there on Friday and Saturday evenings.

I was already fairly stewed after my hours at Duke's, got even more so and then N.B. and I went on to see Olomana at the Hilton. Haunani, alas, wasn't making one of her frequent Saturday night appearances and Jerry Santos seemed to be in one of his sometimes almost "automatic drive" moods (can hardly blame the man after all these years of playing in that strange lounge), but it was fun to be there after a too-long absence and one of the bartenders gave me a cigarette lighter, a faux Zippo engraved with "you've got Merit". Lousy cigarettes, cute lighter.

Somehow I managed to stagger to the bench ...

On Sunday I made a brief visit to campus, then went with friends on my first visit to the Signature Theatre complex and Warren Beatty's "Bulworth". Amusing film. I was a little dubious when I'd read about him writing, directing and starring in a film based on politics, but he pulled it off well. Always have liked Shirley's cute brother, no reason to change.

That was followed with a KFC-provided dinner while finally seeing the film "Shine", thanks to the modern-day miracle of videotape. An earnest film, indeed.

I was tired, I am still tired and would love to have a quiet secluded place where I could sleep for three days without interruption. So I wandered off to the bench again. And then I woke up, found the Bud Ice, and went back to wondering why my life is so plagued by Filipino cleaning persons and enjoying the completely delicious, if ludicrous, passages by Huysmans about aromas ...

134

The internal jukebox went whacko on Tuesday morning and kept insisting upon playing Sousa's Washington Post March. I'd forcibly push its button and make it change to something else but it kept sneaking back to Sousa the moment I let my attention lapse.

Thinking about Tale 133, it occurred to me that I've always had something of a problem with people who are ambitious for me, starting with my father. That dread phrase "living up to your potential" evokes the response, "what difference does it make", and that is not an attitude well-meaning people find acceptable or attractive.

Friday-through-Monday was a time when alcohol consumption remained consistently high, even by my standards. My long-time puritanical rule of not drinking before noon, except on very special occasions, sensibly fell by the wayside. There's much to be said for the pleasure of a decent beer with sunrise, perhaps even more than the soothing nightcap. I wouldn't mind at all staying a little drunk in every waking moment; the problem, of course, with such a primitive drug is the difficulty in staying at the "little" stage. By early evening on Monday I'd slipped well past it so went off to an early night after Bryant sensibly and pleasantly told me I'd had enough. That's my kind of bartender ...

The beer gardens yielded, unusually, a large can of Guinness on Tuesday morning, so the dawn was greeted with that dark brew in the secluded grove, a perfect set and setting for reading Huysmans. In the late morning I went to Waikiki to meet N.B. and guided him back to campus for lunch at Manoa Garden. Kory K joined us and N.B.'s presence seemed to inspire Bryant the Bartender who regaled us with some hilarious stories I'd not heard before, with a diverse scope ranging from tales of the Halekulani to farming in the Hilo area.

After a rather long "lunch hour", Kory finally had to leave us. N.B. had decided to prepare dinner for his host, so after some discussion about the best places to acquire the supplies he needed (including salt and pepper, the host not being an avid cook, to say the least), and despite the obvious but far less convenient fact that suburban supermarkets are probably the best option, N.B. settled for Foodland at Ala Moana, so I had the pleasure of accompanying him on the foraging expedition. That task completed, he decided he had time for another bar visit before beginning dinner, so we went on to Waikiki, stopped up to his host's condo to drop off the food (way cool view across the Marina), and then spent some time in a little bar in the nether regions of the Ilikai Marina.

Leaving N.B. to go play chef, I went on to Ala Moana, acquired a much-needed squirt bottle of "Off Deep Woods" disgusting liquid to combat this season's incredibly voracious mosquitos, a tube of toothpaste and a bottle of Mickey's Malt Liquor, and comfy in the security of the noxious liquid, enjoyed the consumable one before settling on my bench at the hacienda for a long, late Spring's rest.

Was not to be ...

It appears the "Authorities" are on a new campaign to make life difficult for the Urban Nomad. For the first time in all these months, at a little past one in the morning, two persons in white shirts waving big flashlights arrived, woke everyone (including me, Rocky, and the Big Local Dude) and told us to clear out. White shirts suggested they weren't from the Honolulu Police Department; Feds of some kind perhaps? In any case, I certainly wasn't going to question their authority and went on my way to Ala Moana Beach Park. That this must be some coordinated campaign occurred to me when, at about nine in the morning, an HPD sedan and scooter team swept through the park waking everyone who was sleeping on a bench or picnic table (although oddly leaving alone those on the ground and even one fellow who has been pitching a small tent there for several weeks, and is a late sleeper).

End of an era, or temporary aberration? A pre-election "clean-up"? Who knows? Stay tuned to this station ...

134a

The Tibetan monk, Khenpo Thrangu Rinpoche, is in town and is giving a number of public talks. Cheapest admission for any in the series is $20, not even as a "suggested donation". I'd have had warmer feelings about his visit if he had included at least one free event. Wednesday evening's meeting was at the Church of the Crossroads and I sat outside but couldn't hear any details of what was said, saw the Rinpoche and his entourage leave afterwards, and smiled over the flock of Mystic Ladies who then exited. Serves him right for charging so much per hour. Since he and the ladies will be at the Church every evening until the weekend, I might as well find somewhere else to spend the time between leaving campus and sleeping.

An American middle-aged man wearing Buddhist monk robes swept past me at one point. He wore the costume with a certain arrogance that, had it included an ounce of style, would have suggested a Roman emperor.

The great disadvantage to spending the night in Manoa is the absence of resources, aside from on campus. There's not even a senior coffee establishment readily available. I felt sufficiently deprived I took the first bus that came along on Thursday morning and walked down Ward Avenue to have my usual Jack-in-the-Box senior coffee at the sheltered bus stop, going on to check the beer gardens along Kapiolani but still missing the usual stroll through deserted Kakaako and the rooster crowing. There is a rooster near Hot Lava Cafe in Manoa, too, but it must have been still sleeping on Thursday morning. The Kakaako one is a very early riser, begins greeting the dawn long before any sign of it has appeared in the sky.

Never mind, I told myself, too settled a routine of habits just isn't appropriate for a Nomad. And all things must pass ...

135

On Sunday evening, when I settled down to enjoy "Blues Before Sunrise" on NPR, I thought it would be perfect if they played that delightful Pearl Bailey song about just feeling so tired. It's the ideal theme song for the last week of the seventh month of nomadic life. They didn't; but did delight by playing the Jimmy Rushing/Count Basie tracks that always get my feet tapping no matter how tired I'm feeling.

Life was back to "normal". N.B. had flown off to California in the morning, I'd returned to on-line life for the first time since midday on Friday, and then to the hacienda where Rocky, the Big Local Dude and the Snorer were all present, the Snorer giving me a Whopper. One line of speculation is that last week's "raid" at the hacienda came about because they were looking for a specific person. Whatever the reason, I returned there on Saturday night and the only disturbance was the drone of the Snorer. So it was again on Sunday night. The varied sanctuaries of the intervening nights made the hacienda seem even more of a treasure, not so much for the physical aspects of the place, grand though it is, but more because of the comfort and security of familiar benchmates.

Despite many delightful hours in bars during his visit, I think for me the highlight of the time with N.B. came on Saturday afternoon when we took a bus to the other side of Diamond Head and then walked through a quiet, older residential area of Kaimuki which he knew from many years ago. There was very little traffic on the narrow "avenues" of the area, no quarrelsome dogs to protest strangers walking past and, even though the house N.B. once knew has been replaced by two new houses, much of the area must look the same as it did decades ago. When we reached the business district after our walk in the very warm sun, we were both ready for a cool place to quench our thirst and wandered into the first bar we came across, oddly called the Family Lounge. After a barcrawl on Thursday evening when we visited quite a collection of such establishments in Waikiki, I'd jokingly said to N.B. that about the only thing left would be a tour of Korean bars, so it was amusing to end up in one in so unexpected a location. The young lady at the bar was very kind, even giving N.B. a moistened napkin to wipe the sweat from his brow, and after a week of paying Waikiki prices, he couldn't believe the change he got back from a ten dollar bill.

There were quite a few hours spent in Duke's during his visit and I finally discovered an item on their bar menu which I thoroughly enjoyed eating, a roast beef and cheddar sandwich which was almost as delicious as the hot roast beef sandwich at Moose's. The entire week was loaded with far more to drink and to eat than is my usual habit, more time in Duke's than I've spent for many months ... a delightful revisit, in a way, of what my life was like in the year after leaving the world of office drones. June first was a double anniversary, the second since the end of the insurance broker, the first since the end of playing "consultant". I certainly couldn't complain if the anniversary is celebrated as well in the future as it was this time around.

And all through it I kept feeling so tired, on Friday night so much so that I went to the cloisters, lay down on a bench and was fast asleep within minutes despite several meetings going on, and I didn't even wake when the meetings ended and people left. Part of that was no doubt the intellectual challenge of being in N.B.'s company. He never makes it necessary to defend a position (or to defend having no position, which is often more the case with me) but it is as though he stands there holding open a door and one is welcome to walk through it into a brighter and better place but it is necessary to know what one WANTS to find on the other side. There is the feeling that whatever it is, odds are it would be there.

Talking about his (relatively new) acquisition of a beard, I said at one point that at least he doesn't look like Santa Claus, no matter how many people may look upon him as that gentleman. The young lady at the Family Lounge also raised the topic of Santa Claus. And there is a certain parallel with memories of childhood, trying desperately to decide what was most wanted from Santa, suspecting that if the request were reduced to one, basically reasonable, wish and all the energy concentrated on asking for that, it would be received. So it often seems when talking with N.B.

I, of course, don't know what I want. And that dilemma often leads to just wanting to be dead so as maybe no longer having to be concerned with the idea. That makes reading Time Must Have a Stop even more strange, since it is surely quite unique in modern literature in having as one of its continuing central characters a man who is dead and who, horror of horrors, continues to find his thoughts occupied with the same rubbish which filled them in life.

I read the book rather quickly the first time through and then began again taking it more slowly, spending more time savoring the elegance of the language and the precision of the descriptions and reported conversations. I think it's my favorite of Aldous Huxley's books, a feeling I also had when I first discovered it twenty-five years ago. Reading it again was an appropriate interweaving in the fugue of N.B.'s visit. Fugue? Symphony, more like.

Several evenings after leaving N.B., I'd get a bottle of Mickey's and go up to campus and sit in Manoa Garden reading. And on one of those evenings I discovered a poem written on one of the table tops:

As I drink
And want to shout
I have to think
What's it all about

Why do I force
Things that'll come
What's my course
And where am I from

You know less than do I
So don't bother to ask why
Your life is but a simple lie
In the end, we all shall fry

And time, indeed, must have a stop. But not yet.

136

An unhappy dust of nothingness, a poor little harmless clot of mere privation, crushed from without, scattered from within, but still resisting, still refusing, in spite of the anguish, to give up its right to a separate existence.

As in life, so in death, Uncle Eustace.

How much to tell in tales, how much, for a myriad reasons, to leave untold or only alluded to? Last week's visit to the clinic is a case in point. I had the feeling they must have scheduled too many people in too short a time that day and the result was somewhat like being put on a conveyor belt and trundled through an assembly line of medical factory workers. That may sound like a complaint, but it isn't, nor is noting the fact that we all now regard this experiment as either being part of the placebo control group or testing a dud drug. But having come this far even they have switched to "stick it out and we'll try something else next, if you're willing". Maybe they get a bonus for each completed series? (It wouldn't be a bad idea if they offered one to the guinea pigs).

Time for those fool moon's eyes to shine again, always a signal (or an excuse) for the Underworld Dude to demand his portion of the timeshare those guys have arranged for my body and soul. Maybe it's because he isn't very greedy or maybe it's longer-term reasons like karma and all that, but however it comes about, he seems to have incredibly good luck. I just wouldn't have expected it at this time in life.

I can't remember exactly when my fascination with young Japanese men began. Certainly it didn't exist at all before I came to Hawai`i. All experiences since then suggest it is a well-placed enthusiasm, whether on the basis of friendship alone or more intimate encounters. The most recent of the latter variety brightened the threshold of the Full Moon even more than that shining ball could manage.

The arrangement of the area makes it possible to stay utterly discreet and anonymous or to allow full identification and I always let the other person make that decision. Since he chose the more revealing path, there was the pleasure of knowing my neighbor was a young, decidedly cute Japanese fellow with gelled spiked hair. At first it seemed he only wanted to be watched, as is often the case with young Asian lads. Then someone else came in on the other side of him, someone who wouldn't make use of the convenient hole-in-the-wall despite a gesture of invitation but instead wanted only a hand under the partition. My neighbor provided the service, occasionally looking back over his shoulder to see if I was watching. It was thoroughly amusing, brought to mind an image of a milkmaid on a stool, bending over to reach the cow's udder. Once the deed was done, the cow quickly departed, leaving the two of us alone. That scenario seemed to have my companion in a state of high excitement and I was offered the opportunity to complete his adventure. This time the mental image conjured was the old commercial about the cereal shot from cannons. I've never known anyone to erupt with such force. He gave me a dazzling smile and went on his way, as the Underworld Dude was humming hymns of thanksgiving and the knees went quite rubbery.

Vampirism or primitive religious ritual, the essence of young manhood as the sacrament ... it's a concept I've long equated with the legendary Fountain of Youth. The Japanese make such beautiful fountains.

136a

"Not greedy." I tried to flatter him, to assuage him. No such luck. he wants it again, and this time he wants that particular one again.

"... it was precisely on the exceptional and important occasions that it was most necessary to keep other people in ignorance of what one was really feeling."

No doubt. But it is too late for me to start listening to Aldous Huxley now, even when he puts his pearls in the mouths of swine.

I knew instantly it would be one of those moments which would never leave the memory of this life. The collection is a small one, but so potent, and too many, one part of me says, of that collection has to do with the absolutely, mysteriously bizarre thing called sex.

I was born loving men. I've no doubt of that, despite some by-ways which tried to convince me that exclusivity is not only unnecessary but quite stupid. I never wanted to be a woman ... menstruation alone would have dissuaded me from that notion, no matter how many desirable men a woman's body might have gained me. But my desires and my closest attempts to attain what is called "love" for another human being were, from as early as I can remember, directed at men.

The entire universe of "sexual urges" is "unfair". To be born into such a strange sidetrack of it is even more "unfair". Where do I file my complaint?

With "God"?

But all the trifling which once enchanted him was now not only profoundly wearisome, but also, in some negative way, profoundly evil. And yet it had to be persisted in; for the alternative was a total self-knowledge and self-abandonment, a total attention and exposure to the light.

What a sweetheart, that Aldous.

137

Stupid internal jukebox. Nothing at all wrong with getting stuck on a Gershwin tune, but "I Got Rhythm"? As with its recent fascination with Sousa, I tried to switch the music, even tried tricking it with "Lady Be Good", but the moment my attention wandered, back it went to "I got my man, who could ask for anything more."

Well, I haven't got. And I've told the Underworld Dude to just forget about it, enjoy the memory, because we're not making any special effort to bring about a repeat encounter. I may not know exactly what I want, but I'm very sure falling in love with a young Japanese fellow shouldn't be on the list.

After the luxurious opening to the month of June, I'm not at all looking forward to the return of empty pockets but they're almost here and I'm not doing much to postpone their arrival. I did refrain from buying a burger on Tuesday, even though I wanted one, but I didn't stop myself from spending sixty-five cents on a Butterfinger bar when the Chocolate Craving Monster struck, almost surrendered to a second one. Drowned the Monster with Mickey's, instead, hoping for a nice quiet read in the secluded grove but was driven to shelter by persistent drizzle. The trip downhill to get the bottle did yield an extra treat, running into Mikey V., one of my all-time favorite bartenders and someone it's always a pleasure to see.

I forgot I have a free Deluxe sandwich voucher for Mac so ended up with just another bottle of Mickey's for dinner. A Butterfinger bar and two bottles of Mickey's, what a Nutritious Daily Diet.

The hacienda suffers from a population explosion including, alas, another couple. I've nothing against them when, like the Big Local Dude and his lady, they keep the chat to a minimum. The new ones not only yak before sleeping, they picked the floor in the corner right by my bench for their bed and woke me up a couple of times with more yakking during the night. Not much, but enough to wake me. I hope they don't become regulars.

Sleep was interrupted just after four by some kind of major road accident right in front of the building. I didn't stir until the place was full of flashing blue light, looked out to see about half a dozen police cars, an ambulance and, eventually, a fire truck. I couldn't see what had actually happened but there was a car on the sidewalk on the wrong side of the street for the direction it was heading. Since it looked very unlikely further sleep was possible, I departed discreetly via the exit most distant from the scene of the action and was rewarded by finding a quarter in the street.

Except for one almost-full bottle of Heineken, the beer gardens were empty but I did come across a very large, ripe mango which got Wednesday's Nutritious Daily Diet off to a somewhat healthier start, supplemented later with an abandoned Breakfast Burrito from Mac. Looks like someone bought two of the things, ate one and left the other in the bag on a bench. I don't much blame them.

Jeff, my barback buddy at Duke's, is planning to move to San Jose. Jay T is moving to San Francisco. Maybe it's abandoning a sinking ship, but I can't help feeling they're taking refuge on the Titanic.

138

Musical bench game at the hacienda. On Wednesday evening, I moved to the bench behind my usual one in case that new couple returned. They didn't. Rocky took my former place, with the same pattern repeated on Thursday. Sleeping close together again, but I can only see him through the slats of the bench-back. No doubt just as well.

Thursday was Kamehameha Day, all libraries closed. So I stayed on Magic Island for much of the morning until it started to get too crowded. The shopping center was jam packed, too, so I fled to campus which was almost totally deserted. I was sitting in the grove reading Time Must Have a Stop and then fell into an extended daydream about what I'd do if I had lots and lots of money, following the unwinding thread of individual fantasies with so much detail it was almost as though I had suddenly become rich and had many things to do, to work out. A few times I had the thought that it's fortunate I'm not likely to become suddenly rich. It would be a lot of work.

It would, though, be quite fortunate to be not so utterly poor, especially on a day when the campus is empty and there's nothing to eat. And at a time when one of my few remaining teeth is finally suggesting the time has come for it to become past history and, as they all have done, is delivering its message in a thoroughly uncomfortable manner. I should have gone to the Quest office on Friday morning but I felt too lousy to tackle it at the required hour of 7:45 a.m., so if the pain from the tooth worsens, I'll have to find another way to research how a penniless man finds someone who will pull a tooth pro bono.

Sometimes they have been painful for a few days and then have settled down again for months, repeating the process until finally pain turns to agony and the thing has to go. It's an unpleasant cycle I've been through again and again all through this life and a thoroughly unwelcome one now, as always.

I stopped down in mid-afternoon to see Kory K and met his sister for the first time. They were watching wrestling on television. My mother was an avid wrestling fan and during the Korean war, we'd go to matches once or twice a week. She always believed it was real, I never did. Today's version is even more blatantly unreal, terrible acting and lousy choreography, but the crowd seemed to be full of believers.

Leaving Kory's, I took a bus, got off near Daiea and thought I'd see if Helen was home. She was, and kindly suggested a trip to Kentucky Fried Chicken so I didn't have to send myself off to bed, or bench, hungry. On the way there, I found a copy of the afternoon newspaper and, since it was still a little too early for the hacienda, I sat and read the paper which suggested there is much in this world as unreal as WWF wrestling but still with crowds of believers. Reading a newspaper every day must surely be hazardous to anyone's mental health.

Earlier, sitting at a bus-stop, sipping on a cup of beer I'd carried with me from Kory's place, I scribbled on an envelope:

subaru hubcap interlaced, gaelic illumination
brown boy spits in canal
turquoise shirt with plastic bag
life on oahu

little brown boy hits tree with stick
slams metal lamp post
bored at ten, and who can blame him
life on oahu

white pickup truck, boombox blaring
stops for red light
bored at twenty, and who can blame him
life on oahu

old man sitting at avenue bus stop
watching life pass round him
bored at sixty, who can blame him
life on oahu

138a

I found one of those silly ball-heads from Jack-in-the-Box so went to add it to the cooperative sculpture in the art building courtyard on campus. Someone had added a one dollar bill, neatly folded into a little triangle. Jack's head in exchange for a Jumbo Jack, seems a fair trade.

The beer gardens were empty of brew on Friday morning, but in one an abandoned bag contained a fragment of a bacon cheeseburger from McDonald's and an unwrapped, untouched one with about half a portion of large fries. I love people who get drunk, get hungry, and order twice what they end up eating, especially when they leave it on a ledge outside my favorite beer garden.

Every month I seem to forget or neglect one item which that fabled pension check should have provided. Last month it was the mosquito repellent, an oversight corrected this month while failing to replenish the suppy of boullion cubes. I hadn't been using them for awhile so didn't notice how low the supply is running. Something is always running out ...

138b

Japanese couple in their fifties. Most obviously local Japanese, since he said to her "whatcha gonna do brah." That thing in Athens with maidens as pillars, strange echo of it in a double roofed add-on to the Pekingesque Neiman-Marcus. "Where's it start?" asked a lady, seeking the parade. Downtown. Cue up Petula Clark.

Crazy haole in gray faux camouflage pants, walked through giving middle finger to all Japanese. Dude was sick, not old enough to have known the War. Unless his father was killed in it.

Found a bottle of Boone Farms "apple wine" with dashes of raspberry and cranberry juice. Nice breakfast beverage with a bit of a punch. Flask already full of found Heineken, couldn't use it. And then half a Mickey's outside Sears, under those elegant fern-like palms. Into Jack's coffee cup in installments, a chaser for the Boone's.

Sitting on the ledge of a planter with a small umbrella tree plant I tried so hard to grown in London.

Sit in one place all day. Is this the time and place?

It may have been the place, but it wasn't the time.

138c

Friday night's Ho'olaule'a (translates "block party") in Waikiki was fun, although it was too bad it coincided with the opening festivities for the Convention Center. Joining the Pan-Pacific Festival with the Kamehameha Day celebration seems a good idea though (I'm not sure why they call it "Pan-Pacific" since it's only Japan and Hawai'i participating, so far as I've seen). I wandered from the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center down to the Regent where the stage was featuring Hawaiian music. The Opihi Pickers were just starting as I got there. Cute kids but, as with their CD, the musical selections were all over the place. They remind me of that whacko internal jukebox of mine. They were followed by Ledward Kaapana and I Kona.

All the food being offered up and down the avenue would have driven me crazy, but I had a lucky break and found a large plate lunch container with beef stir fry and noodles, oddly enough abandoned in the Regent Hotel lobby, and that more than took care of any hunger for the rest of the evening.

Ran into Nathan and Dave, but didn't see anyone else I knew, and wandered off to the bench just after nine, tired of the crowd.

As I wrote, there was an ample supply in the beer gardens on Saturday morning, and again on Sunday morning, always most welcome when the days come to count pennies for that first coffee of the morning. And it's definitely that time until Wednesday's visit to the clinic.

There's an article in the current Weekly lamenting the stereotyping of Polynesians by Hollywood, but they do it themselves, too, and perhaps in an even more hokey way sometimes. A few of the floats in the Kamehameha parade were classics of the genre. Otherwise the parade was the standard island model, the princesses and ladies from each island on horseback, the usual military bands and marching units, the usual high school bands, the convertibles with Miss So-and-So and Such-and-Such.

Before it was over, I wandered along the parade route from Ala Moana to Ward Center and watched the very end of the parade from there. Then I got a bus downtown and went to the Hawai'i State Library, my first visit there in a very long time. They use an even more weird method of classifying books than the one at Hamilton Library and I gave up trying to find the volume by Mary Butts they supposedly have, went on-line briefly, browsed through a hefty biography of Tennessee Williams, glanced at some Gertrude Stein, and scanned the titles of the hodgepodge of "fiction in English" section. Hamilton is certainly a far more impressive library.

Took a bus back to Ala Moana and watched some of the Pan-Pacific Festival offerings at Center Stage, including a very amusing ukelele group from Japan. Then I found an abandoned bowl of soup in the Food Court and after enjoying that, ran into Tomita-san. The rascal decided not to take any courses at all during the summer sessions, so it's not likely he'll be on campus again until the fall. Rats.

Back to Waikiki in the evening and, after watching the sunset from the beach, a walk down to Kapiolani Park where the large gathering was just getting ready to start the Bon Dance. I found two quite beautiful orchid leis, probably leftovers from the parade. They were very loosely strung, so I spent some time pushing the blossoms closer together and then joined the two, making one much plusher, longer lei which I wore while watching the dancers. I love the Bon Dance. Even when the music is sometimes far too flavored by trashy Western musical styles, there's something mystic about people dancing in a great circle, all making simultaneous gestures and movements.

I wasn't so lucky with the food, though. Some greedy black man was just finishing cleaning out the more remote trash barrels, had a plastic bag stuffed full of plate-lunch containers and was busy pigging one down as he wandered. Sheez, the greed! The containers near the dancers were all chock full of stuff, but I didn't want to explore those in the midst of the festivities.

When I left to head off to the bench, I walked over to the Gandhi statue and draped my lei over his arm, pleased it was the prettiest and biggest one in the collection already there.

It was the Rocky Horror Social Club again. His school chums who visited once before walked in with him and they were still yakking when I blocked them out with earplugs and went to sleep. The chums left during the night, and Rocky took the bench behind my new spot instead of my traditional one.

The theatre show on NPR had been doing an hour profile on Bobby Short and I was sorry to catch only the last fifteen minutes of it. Even that small dose of him was enough to strongly evoke memories of the time in Atlanta after my army duty and the early years in New York City, and after the show I drifted off to sleep in a happy haze of memories and, barring unforeseen events, the mellow glow from the last Mickey's nightcap for a few days.

139

Zippy's macaroni salad, like their chili, is a good base for building a decent version. Add some chopped, very lightly braised celery, some chopped stuffed green olives and a dollop of mustard to start making macaroni salad. Oh well, a kitchen-less person must make do with the basics, so it was a pleasure to find an enormous tub of the stuff in one of the beer gardens. There were also two full plate-lunch containers of what appeared to be beef and broccoli, but a taste of it didn't have the appeal it might have had if not for the bucket. I filled my casserole container with the macaroni, and a large ziplock bag, and ate as much of the rest as I could manage. Macaroni Salad Monday.

Cainer wrote about Monday: "SOMETHING will give way today. A key factor in your life has been getting progressively more tense and stressful. You're fed up; with a situation, a person, a syndrome or a silly state of mind."

That could apply to a great many things, including the hacienda which seems to have entered a phase of one deterring factor after another. This time it's Rocky's Social Horror Club, accelerated no doubt by school break and more young people out and about with time to kill. On Sunday evening two of Rocky's youngest chums arrived first, settled down, but then began a lengthy chat. The earplugs are wonderfully effective in blocking traffic noise but seem to be totally useless with certain frequency ranges including, alas, that of adolescent male voices.

Then Rocky arrived with another one of his lads, the first two sat up, and it felt like I'd suddenly found myself at a teenage slumber party where the likelihood of much slumber seemed fairly remote. So I went on my way and spent the night at the cloisters in relative peace and quiet, with the bonus of finding half a large bottle of Miller Lite at the bus stop on the way.

But Cainer continued: "You have had enough of whatever it is... but so far, you have been unable to make a decisive gesture for fear of creating too much trouble." That doesn't sound like the hacienda is the subject of his message because there's nothing to do about that situation but take it or leave it. Because of its proximity to clubs that stay open after the last buses have departed, it will always be subject to occasional casual visitors, stranded for the night and less attuned to the usual nomad etiquette. With Rocky as their apparent heroic role model, it now appears likely it will be a haven for teenage kids too hyper to worry much about getting any sleep. But there's no "decisive gesture" to be made about it.

"Saturn's sharp link to Mars speaks of a turning point. There may be a brief moment when it seems things are turning the wrong way... but fear not. They are turning the RIGHT way."

A turning point would be most welcome because my thinking has fallen into a rut.

I spent much of Sunday afternoon reading. Huxley's short story, "The Rest Cure", was disappointing, particularly since it comes from the latter part of his writing career. Maybe it was an earlier work he dusted off and completed with an uncharacteristic little twist at the end which did nothing to rescue it from insignificance. Then I started his strange novel, Ape and Essence, which isn't easy reading but held my attention for an hour and staked a claim on whatever hours are needed to complete it.

Although the library was open until six, I left early to catch the bus to Waikiki for the parade which ended the Pan-Pacific Festival. The Japanese are even worse than the Hawaiians when it comes to staging parades, both in determining the arrangement of the participating groups and in working out the timing. Several of the local high school bands, Mililani especially, were far too close to floats with those wonderful Japanese dummers. Mililani's band had to cope with two truckloads of drummers; their own drummers could have just stayed home. And there was such a long gap between about the first half of the parade and the second half that many people thought the parade had ended. That first part had moved far too quickly, not pausing often enough for the dance groups to perform, while the second half paused perhaps too often and for too long. Still, it was a delightful parade and a fine way to spend the sunset hours on the beach in Waikiki.

And such a day of discipline! I saved a can of Bud Light, found in the predawn hours, all through the day to have as a nightcap. For such a feat of self-control, the reward really should have been a more decent beer. And a more interesting setting than a teenage slumber party.

140

Thanks to the Angel of the Coins, there was an unexpected bottle of Mickey's on Monday. That put Wednesday morning's senior coffee in jeopardy by a missing fourteen cents (it was twenty-four, but as happens with uncanny regularity, a dime was found immediately after leaving the Angel of the Coins). A little later, I passed a payphone. Ordinarily I don't bother to see if there's anything in the refund box, although I often see nomads checking out each one they pass. This time, though, the dowser nudge came, I checked it, and sure enough, there was a quarter. So down the hill I went for the bottle of Mickey's, happy with the knowledge that the financing for Tuesday and Wednesday senior coffees was in place. No Wall Street financier could have felt more pleased with the state of things.

I filled my flask with Mickey's, put it away for a nightcap and enjoyed the rest while beginning again the volume of Hesse short stories which I'd retrieved from storage. Thus far, only Hesse's books have been tucked away in the storage drawer or left with a friend so as to be available for re-reading. I particularly wanted to read again the story called "Augustus". A reader recently suggested a scheme for clarifying in my mind what it may be that I really want, and part of the plan is to think of five things I want before going to sleep each night ... just think of them, no more. The reader suggested it was possible to make some or all of those things wishes for other people, and that brought to mind "Augustus", one of the best fables I know on the subject of the danger in wishing things for others. I don't think I want to risk wishing for anything on behalf of someone else. Even so simple a thing as wishing "happiness" for someone might have untold consequences.

For my own part, I haven't been able to come up with five such thoughts. One would do it. I'd like to have fifty dollars a week income, in addition to the pension check which could then be used for "capital expenses" like new slippers, or mosquito repellent, or toothpaste. Fifty a week would provide the daily luxuries of basic food, drink and smoke, without all the temptations and diversions that a larger amount would make possible. A modest "want", methinks.

Perhaps a second would be a ticket to Delhi and Kathmandu, both of which would be very pleasant on a fifty-dollar-a-week income.

Social Security will, of course, grant those wishes, if I survive four more years of wishing for them.

My passport expires on Friday, so I could add a wish for a renewed passport to the list, especially if that ticket is on it. Since it's my only "photo id", it will need to be replaced, either with a new passport (the more expensive option) or a State ID card. As Roseanne Roseannadanna so aptly said, it's always something ...

Thoughts of the passport expiring led to remembering that awful evening at Gaylord's in New Delhi where my nephew and I had gone, as usual for dinner, sitting on the red velvet banquette which lines the wall of that elegant establishment. If I'd had any sense, I'd have kept my bag between me and my nephew instead of on the other side, and then those wretched Hong Kong ladies sitting next to me wouldn't have managed to slip my wallet out of it ... but who thought of such things when sitting in the supposed secure comfort of Gaylord's. Passports, cash, traveller's checks vanished into the Hong Kong underground ten years ago on Friday. Since only the cash was a permanent loss, there was little penalty for my carelessness except a couple of days of crazy running to and fro from American Express to the American Embassy to the British Embassy ... and Mastercard refusing to provide a replacement card until my return to the UK! I vowed I'd get even with them for that, and I did, letting them pay my first six months rent in Honolulu.

A much more remote memory was evoked on Tuesday morning. I was curled up on "my" bench at the cloisters, gradually emerging from sleep, a pair of shorts draped over my face to block the ever-present lights. Someone said "hey buddy" a few times. I wasn't sure if he was speaking to me or my nearest neighbor, but decided to ignore him because I didn't like the tone or that particular phrase. After a few minutes, I sat up, no one was around, but a bottle of Coors had been left by my bench. I suppose the owner of the voice had left it and was seeking thanks. No style in that method of giving, but a welcome gift (even if a lousy beer).

And the memory it evoked is one of the clearest from my childhood. I was seven or eight years old, we were living in a two-storey house in Utah and it was New Year's Eve. We weren't allowed to stay up for midnight, so I was in bed determined to secretly stay awake until the magic hour. Every year I did that, and most of the time finally yielded to sleep without reaching the goal. That year I had succeeded and just before midnight my father came to the bedroom door and softly called my name. I pretended I was asleep and didn't answer. Later I heard him and my mother talking at the bottom of the stairs and when he told her I was sound asleep, she said that was too bad, it would have been fun for me to taste my first "highball" to celebrate. Of course, I had long since secretly tasted Seagrams Seven and Coke, her version of a "highball", but still kicked myself for having missed out on such an adult treat.

I'm glad Tuesday's donor left the gift even without my response, and I tucked the bottle away in the nightcap slot.

The cloisters is full up, all benches taken and even the best floor spots are usually occupied. There is one bench shorter than the others, too short to fully stretch out on without letting the lower legs hang over the armrest, but I don't mind sleeping partly curled up and have managed to get that bench on both of the first two nights of my return to that sanctuary. Earplugs block the traffic noise and the post-midnight departure of nearby club patrons. The refugees are all single men, no kids and no couples (yet), so it actually is a better haven than the hacienda despite being so far from the morning hunting grounds.

The buses don't run until nearly six o'clock and since I was awake by five on Tuesday, I walked down to Ala Moana, found a half bottle of some banana-raspberry-white wine concoction, a bottle of apple juice, and a bottle of Absolut vodka with about a shot left in it. Mixed it all in my flask, went over to the park, showered and washed my UH polo shirt and drank the strange "cocktail" while enjoying the sun and waiting for the shirt to dry. The internal jukebox was playing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" (which it was) and the phrase "a bright golden haze on the meadow" reminded me of old Mr. Cowmmeaddoww, manager of the YMCA Tourist Hostel in New Delhi during my first visit there. One morning I heard his wife giving the room boy a real tongue-lashing because she'd found dust in my room and I intervened, explaining that I'd not been feeling well (euphemism for it has been so damned hot I've stayed stoned in my room) and hadn't been out, thus had asked him to postpone more thorough cleaning. She was offended by my interruption and was fairly rude, evidently complained to her husband who came to see me and apologized for her behavior! He turned out to be quite an interesting old geezer, deeply interested in handwriting analysis, and I was sorry to learn he was no longer alive when my nephew and I arrived at the Tourist Hostel.

Sunny, penniless days filled with small events and old memories ...

141

There was a time when the moon moving into Aries was justification for rolling an extra big one and puffing in celebration. It still would be that time if there were anything available to roll, but since there isn't, Mickey's will have to do. A toast to the Moon in Aries!

I created a new character in MUD called Pollux but he turned out to have terrible stats, was quite a wimp at swordsman level, so I let him get killed off by a nasty Fiend who is one of those only-sometimes critters in the Land, and created Castor instead, played him to Hero. Then I thought it was time for some different playing, so visited the Playroom. A strange young black man was dominating the place, having taken possession of the center booth. When I entered, he immediately covered the hole with toilet paper, then slowly uncovered it a bit at a time. Hmmm, a tease. Then he passed a piece of paper and a pen under the partition. It was a note asking me to loan him five dollars. All those young dudes eager to give it away and he expected to get paid?! I sent the note back merely saying, "No. Sorry." After a couple of minutes, he uncovered more of the hole but only enough to give me a glimpse of what he had to offer when he moved into a particular spot. Yes, a definite tease. Next he passed me the pen and another note which asked "what is so special about a black cock?" I refrained from saying "nothing, it's not worth five dollars" but just said "color doesn't matter", and sent the note back. He returned it, without the pen, writing "I just told someone else that."

I kept the note, but he motioned that he wanted it back, so I gave it to him. He uncovered a bit more of the hole. I was getting slightly bored with the routine by that time, so uncovered the rest of the hole myself and he didn't object but went to work displaying his very long, slender "black cock". I had to think it was quite special but that, indeed, color didn't matter, and much enjoyed the show, then left. It was certainly one of the more strange interludes in the Playroom.

It was one of those afternoons when I very much wanted a beer but refrained from drinking the bottle I'd been carrying around since early morning, determined to save that for a nightcap. Some abandoned "cajun" chicken wings turned up for dinner. Cajun seems to be the latest buzz word in local take-outs, but there was nothing remotely Cajun about those chicken wings, welcome though they were, as were some grilled pieces of hot-dog like sausage which were with them. I had stashed a bag of the macaroni salad in Hamilton Library, figuring the cooler temperature there might keep it from spoiling overnight. A shelf of books by a Major American Author [tm] provided a perfect stash spot, probably the most useful thing his books have ever done (and I suspect he'd agree with me if he were still around). It worked, the stash wasn't discovered and it hadn't spoiled, so the chicken and sausage were backed-up with the last of the macaroni salad and the beer, a fine dinner.

Then it was off, fairly early, to the cloisters where, fortunately, no meetings were going on and I was asleep before ten. About six hours of solid sleep is quite sufficient for me, so I was awake at four on Wednesday morning. With nothing particular to do, and no where particular to go, at that hour, I walked slowly down to the Jack-in-the-Box at Ward, taking about an hour to get there. Checking one beer garden on the way, I found a plate lunch box with chunks of meat in a thick sauce and a large helping of fried rice with vegetables, but there was no beer there or the other gardens and I got to the Ala Moana garage beer garden too late, the cleaners had already struck. Since it was clinic day, no big deal.

And the Clinic ...

"How was your libido, your sex drive?"

"Chile, when with you it's in Warp 2."

No, I didn't say that. I've tried, earnestly tried, to be honest with the well-meaning folks at that research clinic, but I just didn't have the nerve to say that, even if it would have been true and even if it is "Gay Pride Week". I didn't know that until today. Rats. Wednesday already, so I missed half of it. Just as well. I really don't see any reason to feel "proud" about one's sexual orientation, whatever it may be.

The psychiatrist was detained by a "crisis at the hospital", so the young doctor did the interview part of my visit, after the most thorough physical examination yet. He is such a sweetheart. Not only is he the most sexually attractive human being I have met in decades (I know what I am saying), he's a truly sweet man and I'd love to have him as a friend.

We diverted for awhile and had a most interesting conversation on the subject of paranoia, since I was prepared, honestly, to elevate my Hamilton Scale of Depression score by answering yes to the question about "have you had feelings of paranoia". Alas, as he said, there truly are people out there with "uhhhh... not your best interest in mind", a gentle way of phrasing "they really are out to get you", so I'm not sure if I ended up scoring on that one or not, but much enjoyed the discussion.

Next week will mark the end of this study. I told him the fifteen dollars was far more effective as an "anti-depressant" than the junk drug, and this week there will be no drug, just fifteen dollars. A most excellent program.

Then I finally had a campus revelation. What I need to do is cultivate an image as a campus eccentric. Every campus has them. At UH, the Cat Man is the ideal role model. What is needed is to find the right balance so that students either don't mind you or feel sorry for you or even secretly admire you for your eccentricity, and you do nothing which alarms the security folk. Then you can wander around picking out long butts from the ashtrays with impunity and, who knows, there may even be kind Japanese students who will offer you a virgin cigarette ... or their body. Ooops, scratch the latter, I never said that.

142

After the clinic, I went directly to the McCully 7-Eleven for a bottle of Mickey's, hopped on a bus and returned to campus to enjoy it and the rest of the Hesse short story collection. After a short time on-line, it was then to Manoa Garden where I spent four times as much as I should have (i.e., four Mickey's worth). The next morning one inner voice was bitching away about it and I told it to shut up, we had a great time at the Garden, and that was true. Like I said recently, sometimes it's definitely worth spending a little more for beer.

Then it was off to Waikiki and the Pure Heart concert at the Zoo. I was able to find a spot right in front by the stage. The crowd was large and enthusiastic so I could yell a few times without even being noticed, and certainly did when they amazed me by breaking into "Hi'ilawe". It's the first time I've heard them do it and was so unexpected it took a bit for it to register ... wow, they're doing "Hi'ilawe"! Those guys are far and away the best thing to happen on the local scene since Harold Kama started doing solo gigs. After the gig I spotted Matt Swalinkavich even though he looked as if he was trying to be incognito, as I accused him. He agreed, he was trying. Didn't work. He's a sweetheart. I walked around to say hello to Lopaka and asked whose idea it was to do "Hi'ilawe". The culprit was unnamed but he said they decided to do it "just for the heck of it."

Thanks to the gig, the internal jukebox was stuck on "Hi'ilawe" Thursday morning, but at some point switched to "When You Wish Upon a Star". I'd gotten to the cloisters a little earlier than usual and there was still a meeting going on so a bearded young nomad who usually sleeps on a bench outside that meeting room was sitting on my little bench, but moved over to the next one when I arrived. Everyone there is puzzled by my taking that little bench and several of them have encouraged me to take one of the longer benches instead. I explained, again, to him that my preference is to take whatever spot is least in demand, whether it's a bench or a computer terminal. I'd seen him in Hamilton occasionally, so that remark led to a bit of chat about computers, a more comfortable territory than his opening conversation which explained how he sees himself as an informal watchman for the place and proudly boasted about the people he'd driven off since they hadn't lived up to his standard (pissing in the bushes is one capital crime, in his book). He should move to the hacienda for awhile, straighten out Rocky and his teenagers.

The fellow who usually sleeps on that bench then arrived, so the bearded fellow wandered off to wait for the meeting to end, and I settled down to sleep. On Thursday night, there were two meetings still going on, even though it was a little after nine when I got there, and one was being held in the room by my bench. Fortunately it ended after a few minutes.

I was up just after four on Thursday morning so repeated the new custom of walking casually down to Ala Moana, taking a slightly different route. There was a bottle of one of those wine cooler concoctions in a beer garden, so I filled the flask with that and it made a pleasant mid-morning refreshment, although I'd never actually buy that stuff. After awhile on-line, including some time in MUD, I went down for a Mickey's and sat in the grove enjoying it and starting again Time Must Have a Stop, since I can't add to the $1 book collection until pension check time. Back on-line for awhile and then I got the urge to see "The Truman Show", so caught a bus out to Kahala Mall.

That's a great place for cigarette "shopping", even though it does have the drawback of people almost always sitting by the ashtrays. I had almost an hour to kill before the film started, and had a pack and a half of lengthy butts stashed away before it was time to enter the theatre.

I probably wouldn't have seen the film had it not been directed by Peter Weir, but I'm glad I did. It's a real horror story, made even more so by some parallels with my own life, especially the aspect of never being alone, always subject to someone watching. But I thought it was very well done and would only have added one small visual touch by placing somewhere in the film that classic woodcut of a man crawling through the dome from earth into a starry heaven.

It's surprising how much cooler it is in Kahala compared to Manoa, despite the short distance between them, and I was happy to get back to Manoa and discover that, even though cooler than it has been lately, it was noticeably warmer than it had been outside the Mall. Even though I shouldn't have, I bought a Mickey's and went to the Garden to drink it (not willing to impose upon the hospitality of the cloisters with drink, with or without the "watchman", who would strenuously object, I'm sure, since he doesn't approve of cigarettes, either).

Friday morning there was at last treasure in the beer garden right by the cloisters. A younger crowd hangs out there and rarely leaves anything unemptied, but there were two large bottles of Asahi with sufficient contents to fill the flask to the litre mark. In another beer garden, I found a one-pound packet of Kraft American Cheese slices ... odd thing to abandon. A pity they didn't leave some bread or crackers with it. Urban hunting can sometimes be a very amusing, but puzzling, game.

Two tee shirts also turned up, one with a T&C Surf design and the other from a "Torch Run" with the Bank of Hawai'i logo on the front. Even though the run was a couple of years ago, the shirt seems to have been worn very little, is like new. The surfer one is nicely faded but in prime shape. Both are green.

Beer, cheese, and tee shirts ... like I said, an amusing but puzzling game.

143

Memo to Supply Angel:

Thanks very much for Saturday morning's flask of (mixed) beer, the can of Budweiser, the tube of Pringle's potato chips, the revival of the Free Mickey's Game with forty-six cents worth of coins, and the new tee shirt.

A pair of shorts would be cool, preferably the T&C surfer kine design on sale at Ala Moana for $32.95.




Three new tee shirts in one week. Weird. I did abandon one of the green ones, the T&C one, because it was only a medium. Extra large is best, but they have to be at least large to feel comfortable. The newest one is a bright blue extra-large Hanes with a colorful Sierra Nevada Ale design.

I managed to get fairly drunk on Friday evening, the first time since N.B.'s departure. Since that excellent condition was reached via a combination of wine and beer, a hangover was definitely expected on Saturday morning but didn't happen. Maybe it was the KFC chicken and mashed potato dinner which offset the hangover? It couldn't be winning two games of Scrabble, surely.

And I returned to the hacienda, getting there much later than usual. Rocky was sound asleep in his pretty flowery shorts, and none of his teenybopper friends were on the premises. The Big Local Dude wasn't there, nor was the Snorer, and it was so quiet I didn't even bother with the earplugs (being drunk helps a lot in that respect, too, of course). A most excellent sleep, stretched out fully for the first time in a week, continued until almost five-thirty. Rocky was still sound asleep when I left and it was light enough to get one of my rare opportunities to closely look at him. Cute guy, no doubt about it.

The Eve of the Summer Solstice of the Year of the Tiger, the end of the time with Castor and Pollux. The internal jukebox starting with Richard Rodger's "Carousel Waltz", getting sidetracked in the shower when a local fellow came in humming Brahms' Lullaby. Sitting at a picnic table after the shower and being rained on from a clear blue sky.

Not a bad start to the last day of Spring.

143a

The Supply Angel certainly was listening. A pair of flowery shorts turned up on Sunday morning. They weren't quite the right kind, too short, but worse than that, some auto mechanic had been using them as a grease rag and it didn't seem likely they'd ever be clean again. But it was still a grin to come across them, so soon after the hint.

A much more rapid response came when I thought how nice it would be to find one of those bottles of berry-flavored concoctions, either the wine cooler version or the malt liquor type. Not ten minutes later, an almost full bottle of the malt liquor materialized, "Wild Berry". As I wrote, I certainly wouldn't buy the stuff, but it does make a refreshing late morning beverage, more interesting than Coke or Pepsi, less dozey than beer.

The last day of spring did turn out to be quite pleasant, as its start had suggested it would be. A bottle of Mickey's for lunch was later supplemented by a can of Budweiser, a rare find on campus. There was the usual weekend shortage of food, but I wasn't feeling particularly hungry anyway and was satisfied with a KFC biscuit leftover from the night before and the rest of that cheese I'd found, fed a second biscuit to the birds who seemed to like it so much it inspired several squabbles, especially amongst the Zebra doves.

Because it drizzled on and off all day, I went over to Krauss Hall and sat under shelter by the lily pond to listen to a broadcast of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly". It has been more than ten years since I last heard it and was a fine performance from the Chicago Lyric Opera, most enjoyable.

I had been delighted the evening before by the very vocal toads who reside in and around that pond, and was amazed at the number of tadpoles swimming around in it. I assume a great many of them won't make it, otherwise there's going to be a population explosion at Krauss Hall.

Then it was off to Waikiki to join some friends in seeing "X Files". I've only once seen the television show and wasn't inspired to make any effort to see it again, so no doubt lacked much of the background which might have contributed to enjoyment of the film. It was certainly a handsome production, but I must confess I didn't understand an awful lot of what went on and it definitely doesn't make my list of favorite films of 1998.

I stayed in Waikiki after the film, walked around a bit and then went on to Ala Moana. I thought I'd try the hacienda again, and there's not much point in arriving too early, especially on Saturdays. When I did get there, my traditional bench was empty, but the other three benches in that group were occupied, happily by adults who had already settled down to sleep. Two of Rocky's social horrors walked up a bit later but one of them settled down immediately. The other one, a really cute fellow, polite and softly spoken, asked me for a cigarette. I told him I just had a collection of butts and he was happy with one of those. I don't know what's happening with Rocky, though. He used to be such a model of nomad etiquette, but he's definitely changed. I was woken up just after one by his arrival and he also woke up one of his social horrors and they sat and talked quite loudly for almost half an hour. Since it wasn't raining, it would have been far more considerate to have moved to an outside bench, as Rocky used to do when he wasn't ready to sleep yet. Strange fellow.

Partly due to the interrupted sleep, I woke up later than usual on Sunday morning, went off on the hunt for supplies which were more sparse than ordinarily happens. People seem to have had a less boisterous Saturday night this week. Still, there was a flask's worth of beer, the bottle of berry flavored malt liquor, and half a Mounds bar. And the filthy flowery shorts.

143b

Helen gave me a voucher for a free breakfast sandwich at McD's, so I started Summer by having a Sausage McMuffin with Egg and then went, for the first time in months, way out to the end of Magic Island. There were elaborate preparations going on for welcoming the U.S.S. Missouri, including a mobile ATM from Bankoh with a "Big Mo Souvenirs" tent next to it. I can't say I'm particularly excited about the ship coming to Pearl Harbor, although it makes perfect sense for it to be there, and I was out there more to enjoy the ocean crashing against the boulders than with any hope the ship would come into view. It was hazily cloudy and occasionally drizzling lightly, but I filled my McD's coffee cup several times with the Wild Berry malt liquor and lingered until I ran out of tobacco.

After replenishing the tobacco supply, I stopped to listen to Kanilau on Center Stage and watch the young hula dancers. Kanilau is, I think, an underrated group on the local scene. Their mellow style with local songs brings to mind Peter, Paul and Mary, but in Hawaiian. Once again I felt sorry for the kumu hula because some of those young boys are just incredibly stiff, so concentrated on trying to remember the arm and hand movements that they forget about their legs.

There was an unusually long wait, even by ordinary Sunday standards, for a bus to campus and by the time I got there it was almost time to leave for Kahala Mall to see Willie K and Amy. So after a brief on-line interlude, I switched into my (Harold's) Willie K tee shirt and headed off to Kahala.

Confounded cleaning people had been very busy and most of the ashtrays were recently emptied. I settled into a spot on the floor near the stage as Willie and Amy were on the other side getting ready to start the gig. "How you doing, Albert?" Willie asked as he went on stage. Nothing to do but grin, and nod. I was doing just fine, very happy to see him again after an unusually long time. Amy prodded him into doing a solo. I'm not sure of the name of the song, a Spanish-flavored rock tune which he often does, and it was so good it had me sighing for the days when he and the band made Thursdays so special at the Pier Bar.

The gig was far too short but completely delightful. I'd considered seeing "Mulan" afterwards, but there was such a crowd at the Mall I thought it would be wiser to wait until a weekday afternoon and got back on a bus to return to campus. The weather, which had been dubious all day, got worse with heavy gray clouds and more than light drizzle.

"It's always something ..." and now it's a foot again. The one major drawback to Hawaiian-style "slippers" is the callus which tends to form around the edge of the heel from wearing them all the time. On the right foot, the callus has become so thick on one side that it has split and is quite uncomfortable. It's a condition I see on many slipper-wearing nomads. I shall have to do some research to find out how to deal with the problem.

But a slightly sore heel and what may well be a developing cold in the head, oddly enough, and throughly dreary weather still didn't manage to lower my spirits on the first day of the Summer of the Tiger.

144

Monday morning is ordinarily one of the worst days of the week for urban nomad hunters, especially when the weather has been as vile as it was on the first Sunday of Summer. But the first Monday of Summer turned out to be an exception. The weather was still vile, solid gray sky with frequent drizzle, often heavy, but the beer gardens nonetheless turned up a full flask and so much beyond that it was necessary to search for a plastic bottle for the excess. The breadbasket had saved me from going to bed hungry on Sunday evening and came to the rescue again on Monday morning with three baked potatoes and half a loaf of that delicious wheat bread.

I think at least part of the reason for the unusual variation in fortune was Sunday's festivities to celebrate the arrival of the U.S.S. Missouri, and I was happy to catch a glimpse of that famous vessel on Sunday evening and enjoyed the fireworks display in its honor at Magic Island.

But on both Sunday evening and Monday morning there was a severe shortage of tobacco. This, too, turned out to be fortunate since I made an unusual early morning visit to Waikiki hoping to increase the supply of that noble weed. Continuing the recent series of wardrobe additions, I found a gray-white-and-blue striped tanktop which I liked so much I stayed in Waikiki to wash it and let it dry in the sun which eventually, and intermittently, appeared. I decided to dump the Sedona polo shirt I'd found (why would they want a shirt made of such heavy fabric in Arizona?) and the too-gaudy ale tee shirt, so someone else could enjoy the good fortune of finding them in Kapiolani Park.

Once the tanktop had dried, I walked over to the Zoo entrance and, conquering my timidity, asked a haole tourist couple who approached if they intended to pay cash. They did. I offered them two free passes for five dollars, instead of the twelve they would've had to pay. He was very suspicious, so I assured him I would remain there until I saw if the passes really worked and, if they didn't, I'd return his five dollars. The passes worked, I was five dollars richer and he'd saved seven, and was quite pleased with the arrangement. Me, too. I assume the Zoo made some kind of deal with McDonald's and also got some income from it.

That, plus some coins found during the earlier hunt, ensured the availability of three bottles of Mickey's, enough to get me through the hours before the next clinic visit. Oh happy day ...

Give me a kiss to build a dream on, and my imagination will make that moment live, give me what you alone can give, a kiss to build a dream on ...

That was the internal jukebox's morning selection. Heaven knows what distant memory bank it dredged that one up from. The night before, when I settled on the bench and turned on the radio, NPR was just starting "Summertime" ... that wonderful Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong version. Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon ...

I think I know what Rocky is up to. He's trying to get rid of some of the hacienda regulars, the Snorer especially and perhaps me as well. Once again he and one of his social horrors turned up after midnight and sat very loudly chatting (about nothing at all interesting) and laughing. It seemed a very deliberate performance. They were on the other side of the area, so after having been awakened, I adjusted the earplugs and was no longer bothered by their antics, went back to sleep. Alas, the Snorer had taken the bench next to me and when he started going full force just after four in the morning, no earplugs could block it. I left.

That absurd waste of time, Usenet, occupied too many of my thoughts on the weekend and too much of my time on Monday.

And I do have a cold, the first real one I've had since this nomadic trip began. There have been a couple of mild sniffles, but this is the Real Thing, aggravating the apparently chronic bronchitis and going through a substantial supply of McDonald's napkins during the day. I've no idea how I got it, but it's not exceptionally unpleasant so shall just be endured until it goes away. Far more irksome is the return of that wretched chest pain which was so bad on Sunday morning I had to sit on benches and rest three times between Ward Avenue and Ala Moana Center, and was almost as bad on Monday morning. No amount of slowing down, conscious attempts to relax or "meditation" have any effect on it. There's nothing to do but sit very, very still until it subsides. I am not pleased at all with such nonsense.

But otherwise, Summer's definitely off to a fine start.

145

The unprecedented severe tobacco shortage continued through Monday and into Tuesday morning, and the disposable lighter I'd recently found on a bus ran out. Is there a message here? Yes, use some of the last blood money to buy a pack of cigarettes and a new lighter. (I'm not giving up that easily).

I stopped by the Garden about half an hour before closing on Monday, so was able to enjoy a light nightcap of Budweiser after filling my flask before draining the glass. But even with the nightcap and the calm, quiet atmosphere at the cloisters, I still woke up several times during the night thanks to the wretched head cold. Such congestion I had to breathe through my mouth which then got so dry it woke me up. But despite the gray damp weather, the cold seemed over its worst on Tuesday morning. Outdoor living appears to be a sensible treatment for head colds.

It was so wet and nasty on Tuesday morning that I only checked the two main sheltered beer gardens, both empty which was no surprise. But I did find a dollar bill laying on the sidewalk outside Bert's Cafe on McCully. Thanks, careless patron of Bert's!

The jukebox woke up with "La Traviata" which was fun at first, but after an hour of libiamo, libiamo ... I suggested it might be time to change the record. It didn't listen.

The flare-up on Usenet continued on Tuesday morning. It's puzzling to me why some people so deeply resent the Tales, constantly make public references to them and do it as if they are "exposing" me. Weird, considering it's all here for anyone to read. And they can't see the distinction between Usenet and the Web, between writing a review of a gig for alt.music.hawaiian or writing about the gig in the Tales. In the Tales, what was important to me is relevant; often it isn't relevant at all in a newsgroup. But of course I knew they'd jump on my recent reference to Willie saying hello and I mentioned it, I confess, with mischievous intent. Willie always says hello to me. So? Why wouldn't he, I'm one of his most devoted fans.

Some folks recommend giving up Usenet altogether but I think the better answer is to frequently remind myself there are only a very few people conducting the attacks on me and others, no one who means anything to me pays much attention to them (or even reads them), and there's fun to be had by participating in the newsgroups despite their petty potshots.

I was sitting in the covered walk of the building near Hamilton (the name of which I never remember). The sun had finally broken through the clouds and was shining on a pool of water, creating a reflection on the wall behind it. Drops of water occasionally fell into the pool, making a psychedelic light show of the reflection. If the jukebox had knocked it off with Traviata and geared up a little Floyd, it could have been major flashback time.

145a

Ahhh, the delicious joy of a virgin Pall Mall. With the insatiable greed which has plagued my life, probably from the moment I was born if not before, I smoked three right in a row. I was reminded of Eustace in Time Must Have a Stop who, after a delightful evening with his beautiful nephew Sebastian, lit one of his treasured Romeo and Juliet cigars, went into the bathroom for some bicarbonate to ease the aftermath of a luxurious dinner, and fell face down on the floor, dead.

I wouldn't have minded in the least if I'd shared his fate after the third Pall Mall, even without the luxury of a Florentine villa bathroom to do it in.

You reach the peak of a mountain and you look down at the plains, swamps and jungles you've walked, or crawled, through to get there and you know you've reached an apex, it can't get any better, so you'd be happy just to let the silly saga end.

I can remember exactly the last time I felt that happy. K.M. and I were at the Club OB and were having a long conversation about all and everything. He diagrammed some of what we were talking about on a napkin. I kept it, framed it and had it on my wall for as long as I had a wall. I should have looked at it more often.

After an enjoyable visit to Kory K's office, the first in some time, and another round of the Usenet squabbles which have finally reached the point of being completely amusing rather than irksome, mainly because the opponents in this "war" have become so inept, I spent several hours in the company of one of my favorite bartenders who stuffed me with food. I must be looking thinner than usual.

We watched a bizarre Italian-made film called "Army of Darkness" which I'd not seen before and was more fun to watch in his company than it would have been on my own.

Then I rushed, rather tardily, to the clinic and a totally delightful conversation with the young doctor who has been one of the bright points in my life for these past few months. I told him about the Tales. If he does find them (I didn't give him the address and he's not highly net literate), he'll be the first person to discover from the Tales how much I like and admire him. As an "anti-depressant", he's superb, just being in his company makes me feel instantly better. A natural born doctor.

Later, of course, I thought omygawd, should I go back and edit anything, make any changes knowing he might read them, and decided that would be stupid as well as unnecessary. I only have one more visit to the clinic and then, alas, probably shall never see him again. What difference does it make if he discovers he has a major fan, and a grateful patient?

At this stage in life I really don't expect to have moments as happy as those with him. A grateful patient, indeed.

145b

If I used young journal-keeper Erick's method of rating days on a 1-10 scale, the First Tuesday of Summer definitely rated a nine, maybe even 9.5 during the chat with the young doctor at the clinic, the highest in a very long time. So I expected to wake up Wednesday morning feeling gawdawful, but the glow remained.

After the clinic, I'd picked up the pack of Pall Malls, a new cigarette lighter and a bottle of Mickey's, and returned to campus. When it neared time for the library to close, I went over to the Garden where I happily had the place to myself and could enjoy an hour with Hesse and a beer before heading off to the cloisters.

I retrieved my copy of Glass Bead Game yesterday, time to read it again. It's wonderful that a writer as great as Hesse could create such a masterwork as the capstone of his career.

... just a photograph to tell my troubles to.

The jukebox really had to dig into deep caves of memory to find that one, and I don't remember all the words. Still, it's a great song and I didn't mind at all starting off Wednesday morning with it. The unprecedented tobacco famine continued. Kory K suggested it might be a side-effect of the Japanese economic woes, and he may be right. They are still walking around laden with Chanel and Vuitton and Armani shopping bags, but they are definitely smoking their cigarettes longer and may be smoking less. Both N.B. and Florida Mark have expressed concern over the Asian financial woes. N.B. was surprised so little attention was being paid in the local press, but that was the week before it made front page headlines. Odd to think that such a global matter could filter down and directly affect the life of an old geezer living on the streets of Honolulu, but it may be so.

I made a new, bold wish on the first star of Tuesday evening, ignoring Cainer's recent advice to want only something I can get. What's the fun in that kind of wishing? This wish I won't get, but it was fun thinking about it ... and still is. Wishing for a $50 a week income is no fun, either. I know I could get that, just don't know exactly what to do to earn it that would be sufficiently interesting or amusing to justify the expenditure of time.

One reader had the interesting idea that since I've experienced life as a householder with a job, life as a householder without a job, and life as a nomad without a job, I should add life as a nomad with a job to my list of experiences. Maybe so, but I think not until October comes and the one-year mark is reached.

I never thought I'd make it, am still not at all sure I will, and I don't really care. "9" days with 9.5 moments just don't come along often enough.

146

Like all mornings this week, Kory K's birthday started with dreary gray skies and, in Manoa at least, frequent drizzle. Fortunately the wetness held off until after my stroll from the cloisters to Ala Moana. That hour between four and five in the morning is quite special. Very few people are on the move, it's quiet and there's just a hint of the coming dawn. There's nothing as reliable, alas, as the breadbasket on the cloisters route and it also omits two of the more promising beergardens from the morning hunt for provisions, but it's an interesting walk with many possible variations.

Thursday morning produced an avocado, half a pint of Heineken and, at last, an abundance of tobacco. The cleaners on the second level at Ala Moana seem to have stopped work early on Wednesday evening. I wish they'd do it more often.

I'd gone down to get a Mickey's for lunchtime on Wednesday and enjoyed it in the secluded grove until it started to drizzle when I had to relocate to a sheltered spot. I was appalled to read an editorial in the campus newspaper suggesting those trees should be chopped down and replaced with something that is a less prolific producer of seeds/fruit. As I said in soc.culture.hawaii, just leave a big broom down there. I'd be happy to sweep the walkways, spent some time kicking those berry-like seeds off them during the time of heaviest production.

Then it was to the clinic for the final follow-up visit in the experimental study. The young doctor had kindly given me the payment already, so it was just a matter of giving one more blood sample and chatting with the psychiatrist. They won't know until the entire study is completed which of their participants actually got the drug, and that could be some time. We agreed that I had either been in the placebo control group or it's a very ineffective drug. He suggested that I might like to try a drug called Paxil. I said sure, willing to try anything, so he gave me a three-week supply to start with and asked me to stop by again toward the end of that time. I'd never heard of the drug but found a lot of information, including a detailed fact sheet, on the Web. Evidently it will be at least two weeks before any effect is felt.

I thanked him for having allowed me to participate in the study and told him that for me, the visits to the clinic and the staff there had been most enjoyable, as they were. As I was leaving, the young doctor again vowed to look for the Tales.

Then I got another bottle of Mickey's and returned to campus to drink it. Greed again, reducing my bankroll to just over five dollars. I did save a flask of it for a nightcap, but wanted the rest of it in preparation for the Willie K gig at the Zoo. Seeing Willie without a beer in me? Blasphemous thought! It's bad enough to be at the gigs without beer. Judging by his expression when he picked up the water bottle they'd provided, he might have felt the same way.

It was a wonderful gig, a thoroughly enjoyable hour-and-a-bit, and I wished it had gone on all evening. Except for a few drops at one point, it stayed dry and there was a large and enthusiastic audience. Didn't see anyone I knew in the audience except BJ, and she didn't spot me. I was very surprised Mamaloa didn't show up, and hope she's okay.

After the gig I went back to campus but decided not to go on-line, just sat in the Garden and finished off the beer while reading Hesse. When I got to the cloisters, the bearded fellow was sitting on the shorter bench again, but got up and let me have it. I wished him pleasant dreams, took the first Paxil pill (the smallest pills I've seen since Purple Haze), and settled down to sleep.

Strange, strange dreams. I remember especially a goat who had a dog's mouth with large teeth and made an almost barking sound. Then there was a scene in an apartment with another person I can't identify. We had one cat but had both just found another kitten we wanted, and I was feeling unhappy about the idea of living with three cats in so small a space. Then we noticed people running by outside, only a few at first but then quite a crowd of them, all running past our windows. Someone explained there was a riot going on in South Los Angeles and the rioters were headed our way. To Honolulu??? Like I said, strange dreams.

There was the feeling that something was also strange about Thursday morning's walk and it took me almost an hour to realize it was because the internal jukebox was silent.

147

All the clinical material suggests there will be no effect from Paxil for at least a week. I think it ain't necessarily so, and have sympathy with other personal reports on the web which report almost instantaneous, and not always pleasant, reactions. I don't know how else to account for moments, mercifully brief, of seasick-like nausea, extraordinarily vivid and strange dreams, a greatly intensified manic swing, and a constant meteor swarm of thoughts tumbling through my head. Little wonder the internal jukebox has been so silent, it can't catch an open moment to start up a tune.

I rarely resort to formal meditation, a no doubt foolish attitude, but I grew so weary of the racing thoughts that I did try, and then had a moment of genuine panic when it didn't work. Finally I said, oh to hell with it, took the pill and settled down on the bench, oddly enough almost instantly falling asleep. I dreamed I was driving a car, very fast, and was entering a tunnel. A strange steel-beam-grid vehicle suddenly appeared ahead of me, filling the entire tunnel. I wasn't sure I could squeeze under it, but had little alternative but to try. Halfway under the thing, the car changed into a motorcycle. It's the first time in my long life I ever dreamed of being on a motorcycle. The night was full of strange, sometimes disturbing dreams.

Late Thursday morning I ran into Greg, whom I hadn't seen in several months. He's the young man who always thanks me, and did again, for encouraging him to quit his former job. That advice was given during a drinking session at the Garden which I don't remember at all. This wouldn't greatly bother me if the fellow had gotten another job, but instead he took the unemployed, homeless route. Too many incidents like that and I'd quit drinking, at least in other people's company. When Hesse, in what undoubtedly has autobiographic echoes, has Joseph Knecht ponder the way in which younger men naturally tend to look at him as a role model and for advice, I share Knecht's misgivings on the subject. My life is no decent role model for myself, much less for anyone else, and I would never encourage anyone to take the path I've taken. In vino veritas notwithstanding, I don't like the idea of handing out advice when in a less than sober state of mind.

The conversation wandered onto the subject of films and he was lamenting the fact that he couldn't afford to see "X Files", being a devoted fan of the television series. I gave him one of my GMT's and he happily rushed off to see that film while I went to see "Mulan". Later I felt a little badly about giving him the GMT, since it had after all been a gift to me. If I'd had the money and had given it to him, it wouldn't have been cause for second thoughts, even if the money, too, had been a gift. A strange thing, the mind.

Perhaps I've become totally immune to the charm of Disney animated films. The only one I've really enjoyed in decades was "Little Mermaid" and that was mainly because of the music, the weakest element in this new one. I didn't dislike the film, there was much that was beautiful, charming and amusing. But it seemed to have so little to do with China, aside from blatantly obvious visual touches. Of course, it was not intended to be serious history, even though many young people will no doubt think of it as such. An old friend of mine literally hated Disney for what he saw as the way his films, animated and especially "nature" epics, corrupted the thinking of children. There may be some truth in his way of seeing it.

I returned to campus, picking up the last bottle of Mickey's the budget currently permits, and sat in the grove reading and enjoying the beer, although my concentration on the book was frequently interrupted by more meteors of thought, none passing slowly enough to form a thread. Perhaps it is because of my light diet, perhaps because of my acute (too acute!) awareness of my inner life, but I do think Paxil is already functioning and I can understand how someone less experienced with psychoactive drugs could view its effects with discomfort and even alarm.

My only genuine concern is the manic swing. I've been there. I don't have many friends left, and don't want to lose the ones I still have. But there is always, of course, the option of going into isolation until I adjust to this trip, or decide it isn't worth being on.

147a

My favorite kind of people are those who make you feel good when you see them, spend some time in their company, whether there's any direct contact with them or not. I was reminded of that on Saturday morning after exchanging smiles with Bobby at McD's and sitting near the meditative workman I've mentioned before. Both of them just make me feel happier, even from only a few minutes near them. People who do that don't have to be physically attractive or an object of desire, indeed the latter often produce just the opposite effect. But whatever it is they have that makes them such "uppers", I surely do appreciate it and envy them a little their inherent ability to have that effect on others.

Did I say "light diet"? Friday went well beyond that. The constant drizzle meant that everyone ate their lunches inside so abandoned plate lunch boxes were almost non-existent and it seemed from the few that did appear, the drizzle was making everyone unusually hungry. One slightly stale bread roll was the sum of Friday's Nutritious Daily Diet until the evening when I was fortunately invited to join in a Southern dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, cole slaw and watermelon. Then, ironically, on Saturday morning when, because of the afternoon's cyber picnic, availability of food was not particularly a concern, there was an abundance of it. The Snorer gave me a large chicken salad, two plate lunch boxes of bacon, Spam, and fried rice were left on a table, and a half-full container of nachos with cheese and chili was left at a bus stop. Sometimes I have to wish for a little refrigerator, or at least that Dame Fortune would spread her gifts out more evenly.

That all day drizzle on Friday was really a case of, not the little white cloud that cried but, the little gray cloud who decided to spend the day on Oahu. On, not over. It brought to mind days in the Himalayan foothills during the monsoon when a cloud could be seen approaching across the plains but never lifted elevation, just moved right into the dining room with us. But we're at sea level! Clouds shouldn't park themselves here all day like that. Happily, and especially since it's picnic day, Saturday morning at last brought the chance to make the morning hunt for provisions, go to Ala Moana for a shower, and sit for awhile enjoying the beach without once being drizzled on.

A reader with some experience of Paxil suggests the symptoms I've mentioned are only the side-effects which can, indeed, be felt before the presumed beneficial aspects of the drug begin. The only one which particularly bothers me are the little bouts of nausea. One hit about 2:30 on Saturday morning, after I had awakened and couldn't immediately return to sleep. Someone get me off this rocking ship. Like all of them, it didn't last very long at all, so someone listened.

The manic aspects are less troublesome. I've had a lot of experience handling that and know when it's time to withdraw and at least spare other people, the only part of manic existence which has caused me real problems in the past (aside from the scars on my wrist, etc.). And the frantic shower of thoughts has already calmed a little, enough for the internal jukebox to play Harold's "Sweet Island Woman" several times on Saturday morning, inspired by having listened to his CD on Friday evening while losing one game of Scrabble and just barely winning a second.

They have rearranged the benches at the hacienda, turning them all to face in the same direction and moving them very much closer together. They're so close to each now it would be possible to reach over and touch one's sleeping partner, although I have no intention of doing so. My partner on Friday night was a fellow I'll call Romeo. I am not sure what his ethnic origin is, but he's quite a handsome young man who looks more Mexican than anything else. He has been an off-and-on regular who had only recently begun taking the bench nearest me. Nearest is now intimate. No problem, he's a quiet and attractive sleeping partner. And since they left lights on all night, it was nice to have someone handsome that near instead of some of the other occupants who benefit from darkness. The Snorer slept on an outside bench, something I'm sure we all wish he'd make a habit, and neither Rocky nor any of his social horrors were in residence. My guess is, they won't like the lights being left on or the new bench arrangement. That's okay by me, although I do miss "the old Rocky".

Paxil vobiscum. Yep, that's a good theme for these first Tales under its influence.

148

It was like a dream, a surreal fantasy. I was sitting on the bench outside McDonald's at Ala Moana, enjoying my morning senior coffee. On the distant horizon of the concrete plain of the parking lot I saw what looked like a blue ball headed directly toward me, moving slowly. As it drew nearer I saw it was a balloon, trailing a long ribbon behind it. It had lost its ability to be airborne, but occasionally lifted a few inches above the surface, always maintaining its slow, steady progress in my direction. It continued until it reached the curb at my feet. I wished it a good morning, and it went on its way, headed toward Liberty House.

Although based on purely subjective evidence, it seems to me the homeless population in Honolulu is dramatically increasing. Most of the recent additions are local people with no inkling of nomadic etiquette and totally lacking in street smarts. It is to everyone's advantage for us to appear as inconspicuous as possible and, especially in areas with high concentrations of affluent tourists, to be virtually invisible. After all, it is those areas which are of greatest benefit to us, where there's not only such a thing as a free lunch, but free breakfast and dinner, too. I saw a group of Japanese tourists standing by the trashcan/ashtray outside Louis Vuitton, thought ah, must be five or six nice long butts coming up soon, so sat on a nearby planter ledge and waited for them to finish. A newbie nomad arrogantly walked up, picked up butts already in the ashtray and then rummaged through the trash, taking out a soda cup, drinking it, throwing it back in and continuing to look for more. The tourists were visibly appalled and a security man nearby was equally visibly displeased. Behavior like that is such an abuse of the hospitality offered by the management of Ala Moana and the generally hassle-free attitude of the security personnel there. The idea occurred to me once that I could traitorously write a guide for business owners outlining legal, gentle methods to discourage the homeless from using their premises. Perhaps more useful would be "Homelessness for Dummies".

I walked through the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center on my way to the picnic Saturday, just in time to catch the start of the little promo show the Polynesian Culture Center puts on. At last! They finally have some cute male dancers, one with a beautiful slim body and delightfully graceful movements. I stayed until their part of the show was finished and so was later getting to the picnic than I had planned. I was sorry to have missed Ryan and Jen but enjoyed the folks still there and the ones who arrived later, and pigged out big time on malasadas. Although it was windy, the pleasant weather of the morning continued through the afternoon.

Then it was off to see "Gone With the Wind" at Cinerama. It's the first time I've ever seen a film here which started without any promotional stuff and previews before it, just a brief orchestral excerpt of music from the film and right into it. Since it was supposed to be a restored and "digitally remastered" print, that part was a disappointment. The visual quality of the print seemed to me not as good as the last time I saw it in a theatre (twenty years ago, perhaps) and while the soundtrack did seem improved, there were still moments of noticeable distortion. But technical quibbles aside, I loved that film when I first saw it at the age of nine, and I still do. In many ways, this time was more enjoyable than it had been in a long time, partly I think because I hadn't seen it in so long.

During the intermission I went out on the sidewalk in front of the theatre to have a cigarette. A lady dropped a number of pennies and a friend started picking them up for her. "I never pick up pennies," the dropper said, "leave them for some little kid to find and let them feel it's a special day." Her friend didn't listen, picked them all up. I doubt little kids these days would be much impressed by finding pennies, although quarters for the arcades would no doubt do it. I, on the other hand, am always happy to find even a penny, and was especially happy with the quarter that turned up later, ensuring senior coffee on Sunday morning, and with the three quarters "earned" later in the day by returning shopping carts.

It was, yet again, drizzling rain after the film. So much for plans to go see Willie K at the Pier Bar. Instead it was off to a post-movie supper with my theatre companions and a game of Scrabble which I lost by a considerable margin.

The Big Local Dude and his lady were at the hacienda, but he hadn't rearranged the benches to face each other. I settled down on the one next to Romeo with a young lad I think of as Plato (ref: the Sal Mineo character in "Rebel Without a Cause") on the one in line with mine. Romeo was already asleep, but Plato was reading. He, at least, must be happy with the lights being left on upstairs, making our area bright enough for books. Plato must be 17 or 18, not sure of ethnic origin. Although I've seen Rocky say hello to him, he doesn't seem to be part of the Social Horror Club. Rocky didn't show up again. I had almost a full flask of Mickey's so enjoyed that, then settled down on the bench and went immediately to sleep. Since I began taking the Paxil, I've done that every night ... once my head hits the pillow of the backpack, sleep comes within moments.

Sunday was one of those Lost Days which turn up now and then. I didn't particularly feel like doing anything, being on-line, reading, hunting for provisions. I would probably have just stayed in the sun on the beach, but there was little sun available most of the day. In fact, it stayed so drearily gray and damp in Manoa that I left the campus disgusted in the early afternoon and went to Waikiki where it had looked like blue skies at least once in awhile appeared.

I was strolling along the sidewalk by the Zoo when two local lads appeared and came running toward me. They were probably 15 or 16, one of them such a sweet little cherub of a fellow I wished I could pat him on the head. They asked eagerly if I could spare a minute or two to answer some questions. That happens a lot on campus, students being given surveys as class projects, so it didn't occur to me to wonder what the purpose was and I agreed to participate, quite happy to share their company for "a minute or two". The first question asked what I thought the greatest challenge was to the youth of today, and it turned out to be multiple choice, fortunately in that case with an "other" option, since I didn't think it was drugs or gangs but the future, and what they are going to do with it. The cherub was especially pleased with my reply and greeted each further answer with great enthusiasm. It wasn't until we got to a question asking me if I thought it possible to have "a personal relationship with God" that I realized I was dealing with budding evangelists. When I said, yes, I thought it was possible, but answered "not particularly" after then being asked if I had one, I became a possible convert and, the questionnaire completed, was asked if I'd say a short prayer with them. I suggested that they simply say it for me, but that wasn't enough, so I repeated it along with the fellow and the cherub cheered after the amen and gave me a high five. They went happily on their way, after profuse thanks, and I was greatly cheered by the time in their company, touched by and perhaps even a little envious of their youthful innocence and faith.

The gray skies and drizzle which had dampened the day in Manoa finally settled in over Waikiki as well, so I went on to the mall at Ala Moana to refresh my supply of tobacco and wait for sunset when I could head to the bench at the hacienda. I was sitting on a bench there when a young lady emerged from a shop with two of those telltale plain white plastic bags in her hand, which she left on a nearby bench. As soon as she departed, I went over to investigate. One bag contained two bentos, barely touched, and the other contained one totally unopened. The roast chicken was delicious. Since the label said "2:30 pm" as the cut-off time for consumption, I left the fish in an area frequented by cats and was a little surprised to see two mynahs enthusiastically start eating it. I put one piece of roast chicken, an egg-roll type thing and some rice in my casserole and left the rest for another wanderer.

The bench next to Romeo was occupied by a stranger, so I took a bench over by the Big Local Dude and his lady, not noticing the Snorer was sitting on the one next to it. He was just preparing to settle down, and I thanked him for the chicken salad he'd given me, told him it was delicious (since he'd told me he had made it himself). He works in a restaurant and had just come from helping out at their booth at the Taste of Honolulu Festival, for which he was supposed to have been given a hundred dollars but hadn't yet so was feeling somewhat disgruntled, said he only had the job to save money to go home (Anaheim). He asked if I liked peanut butter, I said yes, so he pulled out an enormous tub of the stuff (64 oz) and insisted I take it, said he didn't like it but it was going to be discarded at the booth so he'd brought it along in case I wanted it. He gave me a packet of crackers to go with it. Such a nice man, even if he is the loudest snorer I've ever come across in my life. It had stopped drizzling rain, so he said he was going back to an outside bench to sleep, doesn't like the lights being on. I said a silent, secret thanks for that and a spoken thanks again for the food.

What on earth to do with a 64 oz. tub of peanut butter though? Both in size and weight, far too much to lug around, so I had some with crackers in the morning and then left the tub in my favorite stash spot. If I'd had a large spoon and a smaller container, I would have taken some with me, but the casserole was already full and transferring the stuff with my small plastic spoon would have been a lengthy enterprise. But at least I know I've got some peanut butter available (that stash spot has never been disturbed), although I've no idea how long the stuff lasts before spoiling.

It appeared to have rained very heavily during the night and Kakaako was a swamp, with great lakes in many areas. The beer gardens, not surprisingly, were empty so it was a pleasant surprise to find a can of Budweiser outside the Ala Moana Hotel. Then I wandered over to use one of my shopping-cart quarters for coffee, happily exchanged smiles with Bobby, greeted Viktor as he was doing his lose-weight mall walk, and settled down to await the arrival of the cheerful blue balloon.

149

High manic swing + pension check = ?

Answer unknown, a heretofore unencountered equation. It did set off a cacophonous debate among the voices. The tourist immediately suggested a "little time" at Duke's was in order. The Survivor sneered at the further notion that "at the most, ten dollars would be spent". The Underworld Dude muttered something about Cafe Beethoven. Everyone else just stared at him. The Pilgrim only wanted to get back to the Glass Bead Game since we'd reached the most engrossing part of that fine book.

Fortunately, the bus got trapped in a major traffic snarl so it took almost an hour to get from campus to downtown and pick up the check. Then there was a very long wait for a bus to Waikiki to cash the check. So the debate had plenty of time to spin itself out and there was no opportunity to act on impulse. Consequently the decision was made to buy a bottle of Mickey's, a pack of Pall Malls, and return to campus and Hesse. A fine evening under drizzling skies, sheltered under an umbrella-ed table at the Garden.

Drizzle, drizzle, drizzle. Not since the days in the India monsoon have I felt so weary of wet pavements and water from heaven. There's even a debate about buying a pair of canvas shoes and abandoning slippers for the first time in a year, because walking around on squishy, damp slippers makes it all even more unpleasant.

India. So strange to know each day exactly what I was doing twenty-five years ago: "Went to see Mark. His managing director called Grindlay's and presto! Colin's cheque was cashed. Went to lunch at Imperial and to juice bar. Scored four tabs of white lightning. Just took one so hope they're good stuff. Also gave me a lump of hsh. Oh happy day. APOTHEOSIS II. India 5. (2420) Not atomic stuff but good. Spent lot of time at juice bar. Bought nice little Nepalese trinket from a happy two-year vet. Wanted to be higher. Sat in park and then to Oberoi for drinks and cheeseburger. Crazy. Can have much more fun with the freaks. I do enjoy Delhi."

That day, too, a check played a major role, I see, but it looks like the Tourist scored a total victory. Until reaching Kathmandu, though, the Pilgrim wasn't given much time on that first Journey to the East. "Oberoi for drinks and cheeseburger" ... the equivalent here would be dinner at the Halekulani. I don't think so ... but then the Tourist has grown up just a tiny bit in 25 years, wouldn't suggest such a thing now. I hope.

150

"Neptune's influence is deceptively subtle. It is whispering in your ear, not yelling at you through a megaphone. Nonetheless it is loud enough to hear and, once you do receive the cosmic gift of inspiration, you will pick it up and run with it."

Hmmmm, didn't hear its whisper, nothing to pick up, nowhere to run.

"JULY gets off to a somewhat surprising start. Old plans and intentions are being thrown into chaos by the sudden emergence of a new factor. This is not quite what you were expecting and, at first, you may have a struggle to adjust."

Hmmmm, again. I wouldn't exactly call it a struggle, but certainly there is a lot of adjusting to do with this Paxil stuff. The doubled dosage brought a new side-effect, acute dry mouth. I've always had that, dentists said that was the main reason I've had so many problems with my teeth, but this is worse than I've ever known it. Of course, there's an easy solution, just keep the mouth full of beer all the time. That still leaves the sleeping hours, though, and it gets so intense during the night that even the throat becomes dry and scratchy.

The first day of the increased dosage also brought with it a strangely zombie-like feeling, as if slightly out of synch with reality. I tried to explain it to a friend by comparing it to those moments when you are listening to the radio and enter a state just this side of sleep, the music sounding very remote and distant. But it isn't at all a dozey feeling, the mind is quite alert. And on the second morning after the double dosage, the legs felt like they do after leaving a ship following a long voyage.

The underlying effect, perhaps the intended result of the drug kicking in rather than just side-effects, is however most pleasant. The mood stays quite steady in between occasional manic swings, and has a comforting peaceful nature which is thoroughly enjoyable. The name Paxil is seemingly quite appropriate.

I continue to fall asleep immediately after laying down. The torrent of strange dreams has abated for the moment and there is a tendency to sleep longer, although that may have more to do with money in pockets than the drug, since there's less urgency about getting up and heading out to hunt for provisions.

Tuesday evening was a repeat of Monday, sitting in Manoa Garden with a bottle of Mickey's and finishing the main part of Glass Bead Game, then strolling down to the cloisters for a relatively early start on the bench. The population there has sharply increased, all the benches taken and so many people sleeping on the walkway it wasn't possible to exit on Wednesday morning except via the front (unsheltered) walk. Having slept until just after five, it was not surprising to find the beergardens empty and I went to McD's at Ala Moana for that welcome senior coffee and a cinnamon roll. A very mentally disturbed woman was sitting near me with a man she loudly disparaged, telling him "you stink of sweat" and berating him for not buying her a sandwich. Her loud remarks were interspersed with coughing, choking noises and at one point she launched into the words from "The Wicked Witch is Dead". That is one person I hope never turns up at any of the overnight sanctuaries.

In what could not be a more extreme change of reading material, I started to read Jayne Anne Krentz's Deep Water which was left at the bus stop. It's a thick romance novel, complete with throbbing erections and occasional hilariously "purple" prose, but better than some specimens of the genre I've seen before. Reading it forms another parallel to this time twenty-five years ago in Delhi, where I went through all the Regency novels of Georgette Heyer, taking a completed one back to the bookshop and exchanging it for the next almost daily. Heyer's style invaded my letter writing at the time. I hope the same thing doesn't happen with Krentz (although I cannot see myself ever writing about "throbbing erections", at least in those terms). It did, not for the first time, occur to me that I probably could write one of these things, but if that was Neptune's whisper, I didn't have the urge to run with it.

151

Don't let the stars get in your eyes, don't let the moon break your heart ...

The jukebox had to dig way down in the memory banks for that one and, seemingly pleased with its research into musical antiquity, continued to play it until I begged for mercy. Then it switched to Virgil Thomson's score for "The River", a far more pleasant alternative.

Thursday morning started off with a feeling of massive confusion, so much that it's difficult to define exactly what was going on in my head. My internal clock seems to have gone whacko. I woke at 2:30 in the morning feeling like it was time to get up, looked at my watch and vetoed that notion. Woke again at 3:30, then dozed for half an hour before giving it up and going on my way from the cloisters to Ala Moana.

Wednesday afternoon had been an especially mellow time. Although there were occasional drizzles of rain, it stayed sunny most of the day and for the first time in what seems like eons I was able to enjoy a Mickey's in the secluded grove while reading the Honolulu Weekly and continuing the Krentz book. Few writers have been successful in writing graphically about sex and Krentz is not one of them. Fortunately the detailed scenes of high passion were few and the rest of the book, the plot and general structure, was quite engrossing. I alternated visits to Hamilton with reading the book throughout the day, going downhill again for another Mickey's after sunset and completing the book while sitting outside Manoa Garden.

My thoughts have been much concentrated on Paxil and its effects and/or side-effects. From what I understand of how it works, it is forcing the body to release more of a substance which it naturally produces. [Note: a reader wrote to correct that. Paxil is not actually causing greater production of that substance, but is causing it to linger longer in the brain. The following sentence still applies.] Such an effect must be possible without the use of drugs, but who am I to scorn an easy way out. I realized I don't really want to like it too much. That brings back unpleasant memories of the valium-addicted days. Even though my doctor was very understanding and subscribed 100 tablets at a time, with two refills, there always came the day when I had to return and beg (as I saw it) for more, and I hated that.

This Paxil-induced state of mind has a little in common with my brief experiment with Lithium, the only doctor-prescribed drug I refused to continue taking. Although it seemed to be very effective for people I knew who suffered extreme mood swings, I hated the way it kept me in a gray area emotionally, unable to feel either happiness or misery, but always slightly aware that those feelings were just being chemically masked. It may be that at least part of the confused mental state on Thursday was that I woke feeling quite down but was chemically shielded from really feeling it. Or that may just be sheer fantasy, I'm not sure.

Money, no money, no difference, as a reader wrote several months ago. It's almost true. Faced with this three-day off-line weekend and what is likely to be a deserted campus, I have to be grateful there's a few dollars in my pocket for Jumbo Jacks and such, as well as a few bottles of Mickey's, so it does make a difference even if it's just a superficial one. It also makes a difference because I spend time debating about when and whether to spend any of it, and then sometimes scolding myself afterwards for having spent too much or on the wrong things. Even though I went downhill twice on Wednesday for Mickey's, I didn't make the effort to walk the short distance to Burger King and pick up a cheap burger (the BK across the street from the campus closed). So Wednesday's Daily Nutritious Diet consisted of a cinnamon roll from McD, a little tub of microwavable chili, and a Butterfinger bar. Bad. A day of outright fasting would probably have been a more sensible option.

Having money means I have to think about having it, exaggerated right now, too, because this will be the poorest month in a long time without the added income from the clinic. It's such a nuisance. If only I could accept the theology, I'd probably be happier in a monastery of an order committed to self-imposed poverty. Food, shelter and clothing and a life devoted to things of the spirit sounds wonderful, but I wouldn't be surprised if I hated it, even if I could accept the theology.

Paxil may eliminate extremes of mood, either the drug or simply returning to a state of greater inner harmony has brought back that acid-like vision which began to manifest itself a couple of months into this nomadic life. Colors are brighter, light and shade more dramatic, a feeling almost of opening the eyes wider and seeing beyond the surface. I sensed at the time that quality of vision disappeared that I had embarked somehow on an inferior path, and its return is encouraging. But Paxil itself, of course, is no lysergic acid, no consciousness expanding agent, so it seems to, like Lithium, provide a mask and no answers. That's as I expected.

151a

Reading Hesse's "Indian Life" from The Glass Bead Game always takes me back to London in the late Sixties. The gray-white marble Victorian mantelpiece, the small iron grate designed to hold coal, the ornamental cast iron arch over the grate. Scrubbed clean, the arch and grate gilded, a large brick holding three thick pillar candles, red, purple, blue. The hearth with its golden seven-pointed star, legacy of Aleister Crowley. Sitting there every Sunday afternoon, concentrating on the star with the three flames in peripheral vision. Thinking, this could be it, this could be the moment I return to after living in thought the rest of my life and finding it as empty and futile as the young Rajah in Hesse's tale.

But I think the Rajah was more fortunate than I, and I don't expect the opportunity to try the intervening years again. It has always been my ambition to exit life with an echo of Edith Piaf singing "Je regrette rien" in my ears, but looking at it from the perspective of that Hesse parable, I'd do many things differently. Somehow I think, though, that whatever changes were made, it would all turn out the same. "Maya, all maya," as the old sage in the tale exclaimed.

The brighter, deeper vision is a delight. Then I realized, with considerable impact, that I was still moving too quickly. What's the hurry? Why are you not walking more gently, making each step as graceful as an old klutz can make it? A simple answer, I still cannot maintain full consciousness from moment to moment, drift off into absent-mindedness. After all, if this drug is alleviating (or even merely masking) melancholy and despair, then their absence should lead to renewed energies in replacing those preoccupations with something finer, something more essential to the "real" self, not merely rushing around being awed by the beauty of a lotus flower.

Yes, a lotus has been blooming in the pond at Krauss Hall. It has sent up three buds and two of them have blossomed and departed, leaving behind a green cone-shaped seed pod on the slender stem which reminded me of the opium poppy seed pod I was once given. The flowers are as beautiful as any blossom I have ever seen, a mixture of delicate pinks, wonderfully languid, graceful petals. I look forward to the appearance of the third such miracle, and wish they had more of them there. Like the "singing" bamboo in the Art building courtyard (which only sing after sunset), the lotus is for me a special encounter and experience, another reason to feel grateful for having ended up a frequenter of the University of Hawaii campus.

And would it happen again, I wonder, if as in Hesse's tale, I suddenly found myself again sitting in front of that fireplace and contemplating the star and flames?

152

Throwing caution to the wind ... an apt description of the long holiday weekend.

It actually started on Thursday when much of the afternoon was spent in Manoa Garden, followed by BB Shawn's gig at the Ocean Terrace Bar and the last hour of Genoa downstairs at the Lobby Bar. But when the Glorious Fourth rolled around on Saturday and the party really got underway, I decided I might as well get as drunk for Birthday No. 222 as I did for No. 200 and almost succeeded. After spending the early morning on the beach, I went over to Center Stage for the start of the KSSK-sponsored music and contests show, didn't much like the first band that was playing so wandered around the mall, noticing from a sign that Pure Heart wouldn't be going on until one. I ran into Jon Yamasato, so stopped to chat with him and was glad to hear they'd be opening the evening concert since there wasn't anyone else on the bill I particularly wanted to see. Long's raised their price for Mickey's to $2.79, so I walked over to the 7-Eleven and got a bottle, found an empty soda cup for disguise and got back to Center Stage just as Pure Heart was about to start.

A very old local Japanese gentleman sat on the floor next to me. I couldn't understand much of what he said, but he was delighted when he asked me if I knew how old America was and I answered correctly. He said I was the first person he'd asked that knew, couldn't understand why there hadn't been more mention of it. He showed me a map of a long pilgrimage he plans to make through Asia in the fall, an ambitious undertaking for a man of such advanced age.

The gig was delightful, as always, with an especially fiery version of "Stars and Stripes Forever" in honor of the holiday. After about forty minutes, my companion and I decided to relocate since it was getting very hot sitting in the direct sun and I detoured through the men's room to refill my soda cup, then enjoyed the rest of the gig from the shaded side of the stage.

It was a little less than four hours before the evening concert was to begin so I decided I'd just hang around the mall, walked over for another bottle of Mickey's and sat on the steps in a far corner of the parking lot enjoying it, greeting the few people that passed by. Then I went back for yet another bottle, stopped in a portable toilet to fill my soda cup and found a spot right in the front by the stage. It was another fine performance by Pure Heart, with a large and enthusiastic audience. The band which came on next was soul-disco oriented, so I left and went over to the beach to await the fireworks, refilling my cup on the way.

I settled down on the wall by the beach, next to a large Samoan family (two families, as it turned out). The oldest boy, probably 17 or 18, was strikingly handsome. He knew it, both that he was handsome and that I thought so and, like many local boys, reacted to my admiration with a kind of affectionate disdain which only added to his attractiveness. The younger children all seemed very curious about the strange old haole man and took turns sitting next to me. I learned from one of them that the handsome fellow was his cousin. The mother seemed somewhat suspicious and kept making the youngest children sit on the other side of her until one of the older lads sat next to me, holding a terrier in his arms. The dog was laying on its back and looked up at me with an expression which seemed to ask "how the hell did I end up here?" so I scratched its head and made comforting remarks about how all the noise would be over soon. That seemed to make me okay with the mother who then let the children sit where they wanted to.

The fireworks display was one of the finest I've seen with an especially spectacular finale. When it was over and the families were preparing to leave, I walked over to the 7-Eleven by Ward and got my fourth (or fifth?) bottle of Mickey's, then sat on a boulder by the pond to drink it. The park had pretty much emptied out by the time I finished and I was too wasted to even think about walking down to the hacienda, so just spread out some cardboard that had been left by the old refreshment stand and immediately fell asleep, not waking at all until six on Sunday morning. It's surprising more people don't make use of that space.

The biggest beergarden in town on Sunday was the beach park itself and I soon had a full flask tucked away in my backpack. The park was thoroughly trashed with debris from fireworks but the cleaning crews had done an amazing job of removing the worst of it by mid-morning. After coffee at McD's, I went out to the end of Magic Island and sat in the sun on a bench, watching the surfers, and the crew removing all the apparatus which had been used for the big fireworks display. I didn't have anything in mind for the day and after a shower, decided I'd go over to Kapiolani Park instead of going up to campus. The flask had been emptied while sitting on the bench, so I got a Mickey's, found the necessary soda cup with straw, and arrived at the park just as the Royal Hawaiian Band was tuning up for their weekly concert.

There's something about a band tuning that sometimes really grates on my nerves, so I was glad when that finally finished and the music began. They do a fine job with traditional band music and Hawaiian classics, but some things would be better left out of their repertoire, I think, especially Cole Porter. Not many of his songs adjust well to the sound of a marching band and "I've Got You Under My Skin" definitely isn't one which does. They were followed by a high school band from California which was surprisingly good and did a much better job with a couple of Glenn Miller classics than the Royal had. I'd walked over for another beer between bands and was feeling comfortably drowsy when the music was over, so just lay back on the grass and slept for a couple of hours.

After taking a bus back to Ala Moana and refreshing the tobacco supply, I walked down to Ward Centre and Warehouse, finding a large plate lunch box with rice and roasted potatoes in it so ate dinner while watching the sunset. A final bottle of Mickey's was in the backpack for a nightcap and I was ready for it and the bench, walked on to the hacienda and enjoyed the beer while listening to the country music station for the first time in awhile. The Big Local Dude and his lady came in shortly after I arrived, Romeo followed soon thereafter and the only other resident was Plato, but he hadn't arrived when I settled down to sleep. It begins to look like I was right about Rocky and his friends not liking the lights being left on.

I smiled several times during the weekend over the reader's description of Paxil and drugs like it as a "psychic enema". I seem to be running through most of the reported side-effects, none of them sufficiently unpleasant to put me off the drug. On the other hand, the perceptible benefits do not, as yet anyway, convince me it is worth continuing after this initial experiment. In some ways, the predominant effect of the drug seems to be a rather drowsy mood of not caring about much, one way or the other. Aside from the upswing in mood brought on by the Pure Heart gigs and the comfortable, steady buzz of the beer, the weekend rambled on in a slightly bland mode untouched by joy or misery.

And there is one thing that can be said for having no money. At least no time is wasted thinking about how to spend it. This is not, of course, sufficient cause to recommend the condition.

153

Monday was about as dull a day as a day can get. Only pleasant weather stopped it from taking some kind of special prize. "The Party's Over" was a perfect theme song for it. No regrets over having thrown that caution to the wind and enjoying the party, except for a slight wish that I hadn't let the crowds discourage me and had completed a little shopping expedition at Long's on Friday. I had new slippers, earplugs and toothpaste in hand, but seeing the long lines at the cash register, decided I could wait until after the weekend. Ah well, August first will roll around eventually.

Laying in bed (on bench) asleep until 5:30 is very bad form for the urban hunter/gatherer, especially in times when there is total dependence upon the blessing of Dame Fortune. When I got to the hacienda on Monday evening, the Big Local Dude and his lady had already settled down, Romeo was just preparing to, and Plato was reading. I left one bench vacant between me and Plato and settled down myself. A mistake. The Snorer arrived later than usual and took that vacant bench. Just before three, his horrendous racket penetrated the earplugs and woke me up. Plato had already relocated to a bench as far away as possible and fortunately the one in line with it was still vacant, so I moved there, but it took longer than usual for sleep to return, partly accounting for the late rising.

With such a late start, I expected the hunting grounds to be even emptier than they had been on Monday morning, but since Monday had proven the fact that 24 hours without alcohol does not have fatal consequences, I reminded myself that it is time to resign myself to fate, whatever it turns up, and not to walk around wanting what I can't have. My common sense lecturing was rewarded at the last minute when a flask's worth of Budweiser had been left lurking behind a parking lot pillar. We drink on Tuesday! (Not much, but .... ).

The angel in charge of the food supply had also been rather lazy on Monday, turning up only some rice and a bit of salad for lunch, but he made up for it in the evening with a superb burger and fries, a real burger, not one of the fast food place varieties. Unfortunately, the original owner had obviously requested that it be cooked very well done, a shame when the meat was such high quality, and evidently had then decided it was too dry and abandoned it. (Speculating on why things have been abandoned is always an amusing part of the game.) Overcooked and slightly dry, it was still a fine burger with crisp lettuce and tomato slices. A cup of soup from the Old Spaghetti House was with it, bean soup a little heavy on the oregano, and a nice fresh bread roll from the same establishment which was tucked away for Tuesday's breakfast.

The late start on Tuesday had its advantages, including passing the handsome fellow walking his dog on Kapiolani, and turning up for senior coffee at McD's just after the box of goodies had arrived from 7-Eleven. I suppose few of the regulars that hang out there have access to microwaves so there are almost always some microwavable items left in those boxes, this time chicken katsu and Teriyaki beef katsu plates along with a quarter-pounder hotdog. We drink (a little) on Tuesday, and we eat. And with the second summer session students swarming all over campus, it's fairly likely we'll smoke without much difficulty, too.

Summertime, and the livin' is easy ...

Nine months of this urban nomad existence. That seems, metaphorically speaking, it's time to give birth. Ah, but to what?

One line of thought, which started to mull around on Monday evening, was suggested by the Tales. So many of them are flavored with accounts of exchanges with other people, especially strangers, suggesting those encounters are as important, sometimes more important, than whatever else was happening at the time. And it has long been clear to me that my reason for hanging out in bars has nothing to do with alcohol, which I enjoy just as much on my own sitting in the secluded grove, but with the opportunity to meet and talk with friends behind the bar and with folks known and unknown at the bar.

I'd been thinking much of the day that I need a project, not necessarily something to do. (I have, after all, been working very hard to get rid of the notion that it is necessary to be doing anything). I didn't reach any clear idea of what "project" meant, but that thought and the understanding that encounters with people are important began to merge and together they continue to weave their way through the background of mind noise and chatter.

Nine months on the street.

153a

The second UH summer session is very much different than the first, far more people on campus including a large group of newcomers, readily identified by green-and-white tee shirts. Kory K explained that the first session begins too early for graduating high school students to attend, so many of them begin their college careers with the second summer session. There are some real sweethearts in the new batch, including a young man who sat near me as I was feeding the birds, smiled several times and eventually asked if I knew the time.

They seem generally more open and friendly, more relaxed, but the pressure of higher academic life will no doubt soon change that. They need to be indoctrinated, though, into the art of achieving the Panther's Blessing. Ah, you think that doesn't matter? Look at the grade reports of those who acquired that blessing in the last academic year!

Quick ways to gain entry to the list include forgetting your change in the vending machines. The newcomers are terribly fastidious about grabbing every last nickel. Also, emulate the penny-dropper who, happily, is obviously back for the second session. He's one of those people who just don't like to carry pennies, often leaves them on the counter of the vending machine kiosk near Hamilton, never bothers to pick up any dropped ones. Also, never smoke a cigarette more than halfway down; for best results take at most two or three puffs and gently discard it in a sand-filled ashtray, one not exposed to rain.

That's enough for the newcomers. They can graduate to the intermediate list later, by purchasing huge plate lunches from the wagon behind what used to be Burger King, eating no more than half, neatly tying the plastic bag and depositing in an outdoor waste basket or, better yet, leaving them on a bench or table.

And of course, the ultimate list, the supreme blessing, buying beers for the Panther at Manoa Garden is reserved for the elite. A freshman can hardly dare to aspire to such heights.

But there's no reason they shouldn't try ...

153b

Tale 153a will probably get me in trouble. Some grouch is bound to take it seriously and use it on Usenet in one of those Socratic Panther vollies. Oh well. And anyway, either the new kids on the block are wising up or the Angels of yore are swinging into action because twenty-five cents turned up in the kiosk near Hamilton, ensuring Thursday morning's senior coffee (Wednesday's already in hand).

So did half a large cup of Starbucks coffee. Despite all the "evil empire" wisecracks, those folks surely do make fine tasting coffee.

And I finally won something in the Taco Bell Godzilla game. I'm not familiar with their menu but assume a free "Cinn Twist" is some kind of cinnamon pastry and shall visit the campus Taco Bell to claim my prize on some hungry morning in the immediate future.

The fine weather of Monday and Tuesday morning changed back to the utterly solid gray skies and constant drizzle which has been so much a part of summer thus far, making each expedition in quest of tobacco a thoroughly damp hunt. And there does not, alas, seem to be as much activity at the N.I.C.E. program during this second summer session, leaving one of the better tobacco "shops" much emptier than usual.

The nasty weather did not return until I'd had the chance to spend an hour in the secluded grove, drinking my pint of Budweiser and sharing that yummy bread roll from Monday evening with the birds. There are four or five bulbuls who make the grove their main territory and all delight in swooping down on each other when anyone tries to land to grab a bite to eat. It seems like good-natured play rather than genuine territorial squabbles, but I have to wonder how they manage to get enough to eat. While they are busy with their aerobatics, the others are busily gobbling up whatever's available. There are two Brazilian Cardinals who are regulars but have no problem in sharing with each other. Out of a dozen or so zebra doves, only two occasionally get cranky and try to chase the others away. With so many potential "invaders", all they accomplish is ending up with less to eat themselves. Perhaps the funniest is a large, fat spotted dove who always tries to gulp down a slightly too large beakfull and ends up having to do amazing contortions to get it down, again losing out in the end since it would have gotten more to eat taking smaller bits at one time. The term "bird brain" has some justification for its use as a human insult.

All in all, the second summer session looks like being a fine season on campus.

154

Earth angel, earth angel, will you be mine ...

I remember the exact moment when I first heard the classic recording of that by The Penguins. I was with a group of teenagers who had been invited by the captain of the ship to assemble on the bridge that evening since at some point we would make first contact with U.S. radio stations and he knew from experience, I guess, that we were all eager to hear the latest hits. The Armed Forces Network in Germany always lagged behind at least a few weeks and the most popular kids in school were ones with friends in America who would airmail over the latest releases. It was the last evening on a voyage from Bremerhaven to New York and I think I was looking forward more to an American radio station than seeing the Statue of Liberty. "Earth Angel" was the first song we heard.

It seems to be my extreme good fortune to have a band of earth angels looking after me, and not all of them are on campus. A few of them have grumbled at me, too, for what they (with some justification) see as my irresponsible celebration of America's birthday. One sneered at my claim that I could "control the manic swings" and I have to admit that sneer has a certain amount of justification, too, although I was careful both in my own mind and in the Tales not to lay any blame on Paxil. I doubt I would have acted the same had I not been taking it, but I'm not sure, and in any case I certainly can't claim that it made me throw that caution to the wind.

I read a story in the paper this week about a Buddhist monk in Thailand who had collected more than a million dollars in cash and gold as a donation to the Thai government to help with its financial problems. It was suggested the monk had managed to collect so much because of the Buddhist belief that giving to monks or temples is a means of acquiring future merit. This, I know from experience, is dangerous territory, but it seems to me that Buddhist idea should be valid even if it isn't. As I wrote once before, I'd like to believe in a basic justice in life (no matter how difficult it may be to discern sometimes within the span of one life only). And it seems to me that giving to a totally undeserving person should actually be more meritorious than giving to a deserving one, and giving without asking credit for it even more so. (That especially occurred to me when reading Lester Chow's post asking for donations to help Chinese flood victims, with a postscript asking that his web site be credited as prompting the donation). So maybe Tale 153a isn't as tongue in cheek as was intended when writing it? Dangerous territory, like I said.

It sounds a little absurd coming from a man who only had thirty-three cents in his pocket, but I ate too much on Wednesday. The Angel of the Leftovers started it off, making it possible to enjoy the pre-dawn stroll from the hacienda to Ala Moana while munching on little chocolate chip cookies. I was sitting outside McD's with my senior coffee when the box from 7-Eleven arrived and rather than hanging back as I usually have, I went over immediately to join in checking it out, bagged a chicken katsu with fried saimin plate, two sandwiches and a piece of "French pound cake". Out of curiosity, I tallied the retail value and discovered I had almost $12 worth of merchandise. It is extraordinarily kind of 7-Eleven to drop that stuff off instead of taking the easy way out and dumping it in the garbage.

So my chocolate chip cookie breakfast continued with an egg salad sandwich, followed by a ham and Swiss sandwich brunch. The breakfast was supplemented by a fine, ripe banana, the only consumable thing which turned up in the beergardens. Errrr, excuse me, Supply Angel, I know beer and banana both start with B, but didn't you get a little confused there? The "consumable" qualifier is necessary because, oddly, a very new pair of white socks had been abandoned in another beergarden. Since the pair I've been wearing as night gear for nine months (and weren't new to begin with) are beginning to more than show their age, it was a welcome gift.

Just after I got to campus, I found two huge hotdogs. They made the 7-Eleven Big Bite look like a nibble. Both had catsup and mustard with a dill pickle slice, and were wrapped in foil. They were about as good as any hotdog I've ever tasted and it's strange someone abandoned them. So they were lunch, and the birds enjoyed sharing the hotdog buns. But the birds really went whacko over that pound cake and obviously liked it so much they got all but a few sample bites I saved for myself, and enjoyed with a little tub of applesauce and a cup of instant coffee provided by the Angel of the Leftovers.

That cup of coffee reminded me, yet again, how stupid it is not to budget some of that pension check for instant coffee. I know, it actually doesn't work out as cheap as senior coffees, but there's no place near campus which offers that bargain and it is a wonderful luxury to be able to have a cup of coffee when the mood strikes. It's the little things in life, like the current country hit says. So enjoying a brief time with a glass of beer at Manoa Garden versus a series of enjoyable times with a cup of coffee is just plain dumb. (You are eavesdropping on one of my periodic lectures to myself.)

The smiling lad without a watch joined me again while I was sharing hotdog buns with the birds. He has the Most Interesting Newcomer award, no contest. Reminds me a bit of Matt Dillon but is actually even cuter, and those smiles are better than forgotten change in a vending machine any day. I actually found myself looking for some way to open a conversation with him, something I rarely search for, then reminded myself such things are far better left to spontaneity and there's no hurry, we'll both be on campus for a long time.

Lintilla remarked on hawaii.test during the afternoon that he'd just checked the live cam aimed at the Hamilton steps and was puzzled by my reports of the drizzle, because it looked nice and sunny. So it was, blue sky and sunshine ... and drizzle. All day there was almost nonstop moisture, whether a fine mist or light showers. The sun was so hot that benches stayed dry most of the time despite the wet air. After sunset the drizzle turned to more frequent showers but fortunately there were a couple of hours when it stopped and the clouds parted enough to enjoy the beautiful, nearly-full moon and a stroll through the Ward area before heading off to the bench.

Aside from frequently eating, I hadn't done much during the day except play MUD. My recent Hero perished when jumped by a whole gang of dwarfs, so I started a new one and played it to Sorcerer, then stopped when I almost lost him to those little dwarfs as well. The State Library server had been fairly unstable all day and after awhile it gets quite nervewracking to be playing a game where unexpected server delays can be fatal.

I hadn't really missed beer that much until picking up a copy of the current Honolulu Weekly. It has become such an established habit to enjoy reading it over a glass of beer that my resolution not to spend time wanting something I couldn't have was momentarily overruled. Such a slave to habit ...

This is an unsolicited testimonial. Arm & Hammer's Peroxicare toothpaste really leaves your mouth feeling clean and fresh. I'm not just saying that because I was given a tube of the stuff, either. Hmmmm, wonder if I could do a "Truman Show" routine and negotiate product placements in the Tales?

155

I don't care, I don't care, what people think of me. I'm happy go lucky, men say that I'm plucky, and just so damned care free ...

For more than thirty years it has been perhaps the heighth of my "spiritual goal" to attain and maintain a state of existing in the present, the here and now. The message of Be Here Now by Ram Dass was etched with acid in my consciousness. In many ways, Paxil has brought me closer to that presumed goal than I've ever gotten before and, perhaps because I was propelled into it, I'm finding it somewhat uncomfortable.

It is my assumption that the extended lift-off, with its sometimes unpleasant moments, has been completed and this is at least the lower level of Paxil-fueled orbiting. It has much in common with the mind state brought about by continuous consumption of LSD over at least a three-day period. There is no longer the zoom of take-off, the dazzling jump into a different state of consciousness, but a steady, continuous experience of existing in something other than First Level Reality. I once kept that up for two weeks and not since then have I experienced quite this feeling of not caring, of not being at all concerned about next week, tomorrow, even the next five minutes. It doesn't matter. All that matters is NOW, and so it becomes possible to get "lost" for half an hour gazing at the shadows of palm trees, the beautiful contrast between the darkness of the blocked sunlight, the brilliant glare of the sun on concrete, the delicate patterns of the elegant trees.

This, of course, is exactly where I wanted to be.

The simple life. The search for tobacco, beer, sleep, food, sex, in that order of priority. In this state of mind, a cigarette becomes more of an anchor than anything else, the desire for a smoke, the anticipation of the next one, drawing me back from the Now into anticipation of the future. The beer filling the one drawback of Paxil, its total lack of reference to physical tension. A capsule filled with a daily dose of Paxil, plus timed-release doses of Valium, would be indeed the closest thing I can imagine to chemically-induced "liberation".

I don't know yet if I will attempt to continue using Paxil after the last dose in hand (four days hence). For a person suffering from a chemically imbalanced depression, it must be a major boon. That's the worst kind, being depressed for no reason at all, sometimes even when everything in life suggests just the opposite should be true. I know that feeling, I've been there. But I'm not prepared to accept that all depression is based on body chemistry. I think there are times where one can be understandably and justifiably depressed, and it is that state which brings around my occasional dips into bleakness in recent times. To avoid those times by a chemically-induced escape into the "higher" reality of existing in the Now is something I can't see as anything but a cop-out, a vacation.

And I'm not sure yet how long I want to stay on holiday.

155a

I saw something I'd never seen before. On Sunday morning, I was sitting outside McDonald's at Ala Moana sharing the largesse from 7-Eleven with the birds. I'd gotten there a few minutes after that box arrived so there was little left but pastries (the Ala Moana nomad colony doesn't seem to have much of a sweet tooth). A scraggly spotted dove was in a very cranky mood, kept trying to chase everyone else away, and then grabbed a sparrow by the beak and swung it around! The sparrow moved a few feet away and squawked loudly at the rude dove. I couldn't blame the little fellow and tossed him a generous piece of cinnamon bun which he wisely moved to a safe distance. The sparrows are so sassy and seem to delight in snatching morsels away from other birds, even when there are larger, more desirable pieces still lying around, but that spotted dove was ridiculously aggressive.

Feast to famine. After that cornucopia of food on Wednesday, there was absolutely nothing on Thursday, no beer, no food. I had the chicken katsu and fried saimin from Wednesday in my casserole but was a bit suspicious of eating the chicken 24 hours after its last recommended eating time, so gave it to the cats and had the fried saimin for lunch. I should have taken something from my stash at Hamilton for dinner but thought something would turn up at one of the usual places, so ended up going to bench without dinner. It didn't matter.

No beer again on Friday, and again (as on Thursday) no box from 7-Eleven. Maybe I gave up too early, or maybe they don't bother unless there is enough stuff to make dropping it off worthwhile. A quarter was on the sidewalk near a bus stop, though, so senior coffee was provided as it was on Saturday and Sunday mornings when quarter-bearing shopping carts were left awaiting return and redemption. Saturday morning also brought a good supply of beer, a flask-full of Mickey's, three bottles of Bud Light and a can of Budweiser. On Sunday it seemed until the last minute that it was going to be a strangely empty hunt in the beergardens, but then two bottles of Red Dog were left in an otherwise empty six-pack. And after several days of rarer than usual tobacco supply, Sunday's bonanza when two boxes were filled within a couple of minutes was a rare treat.

I'm not unaware, of course, that the hunt for tobacco and beer is a slightly absurd enterprise and quite unnecessary but there is neither the inclination nor the discipline to abandon the sport, just the certain knowledge that it is basically irrelevant. I only wish I could accept the lack of tobacco with the same easy shrug that's possible with the absence of beer (or food).

And what did I do Thursday, Friday and Saturday? Nothing, not even write a Tale. I spent a little time on-line, played MUD for awhile on Thursday and Friday, read Hesse, sat in the secluded grove and watched the birds and cats and passers-by. Each evening I walked from Ala Moana through the Ward area and settled onto my bench at the hacienda in company with the Big Local Dude and his lady and the Snorer and Plato, although the latter two didn't show up on Saturday night. Each morning I got up around 4:30 or 5 and walked through the beergardens to Ala Moana, had senior coffee and, except for Saturday, left for campus around seven. Since the libraries were closed, I stayed at Ala Moana longer on Saturday, made a brief trip to the State Library where there were too many noisy children to concentrate, and then returned to Ala Moana until time to join some friends for a few games of Scrabble. I'd had enough of the mall and changed plans to stay there on Sunday to see BB Shawn at Centerstage, instead went up to campus and had the grove all to myself for the morning, only a few birds to keep me company. They enjoyed a piece of "French pound cake" from 7-Eleven, I enjoyed the two bottles of Red Dog.

There's a passage in Steppenwolf I quoted once in a Tale which speaks of the ordinary, contented days as perhaps being the worst of all. I wouldn't go that far in thinking of these midsummer days because they have a certain charm and magic, in their own aimless way seem somehow rejuvenating. But I can understand how Steppenwolf felt, can sense that underlying suspicion and doubt which, if allowed too much focus would surely darken the light of contentment.

"Never satisfied" is the phrase which comes to mind, but then, isn't that how it must be?

156

I'd gotten up to water the bushes just before one in the morning. As I returned to my bench a fellow was walking in from the other side, probably in his late forties or early fifties, beard, hair in a stubby ponytail, wearing a straw hat with sunglasses perched on the brim. Drunk as a skunk, as they say. I don't know why they say that and was going to look it up in H.L. Mencken's study of the American language but oddly enough they don't have a copy of it at Hamilton Library.

He strolled over and offered me an "ice cold beer", which I was happy to accept, said his name was Conrad. Then he sat down and explained he'd just been thrown out of a theatre at Restaurant Row for laughing. Later when he let loose with one of his loud laughs, I could well understand why. It woke the Big Local Dude up, so I tried to get Conrad to hold it down, not entirely with success. He told me to grab another beer. Good beer, but the price, of course, was sitting and listening to him ramble for about 45 minutes. I don't know why some people get so uptight about folks telling tall tales on Usenet. They should spend more time listening to old dudes with a few too many drinks under their belts, would soon get used to it. I thought I'd seen Conrad before, realized where when he started talking about his former girlfriend Judy, now dead, and her mother who hangs out at Duke's all the time, as does he occasionally. I asked how Judy died and he said "too much vodka". He was in a motorcycle accident which he said was the driver of the car's fault, but the car was stolen, so the State paid for his medical bills and he has been living off SSI since then after getting qualified as "totally disabled". There's a rich lady in Santa Rosa who flies over every few months to spend time with him and is trying to get him to fly there, at her expense, but he'd be violating his parole if he did. The fact that she has lots of money and lets him come in her mouth are apparently her main assets.

He said he'd only recently gotten out after spending a year in jail here, claimed the jail is crowded but isn't as bad as the papers have recently been making out, that there are good people in there, lots of excellent food, and plenty of mahus to give you blow jobs.

He's the kind of man I'd be very unlikely to talk with ordinarily, even in a bar, but I certainly enjoyed the beer and even enjoyed the novelty of his mostly unbelievable stories. I wasn't unhappy, though, when the six-pack finally ran out and he moved to another bench to settle down. He'd said he had a second six-pack in his backpack, but didn't take it out. When I woke up just past five, though, he was sitting with another can in his hand, fast asleep.

It was drizzling slightly when I woke up and each time it got a little heavier, I'd stop in my walk to Ala Moana and pause under shelter. At the first such stop, there was a quarter lying there extending the unusual run of days when senior coffee financing has fallen in my path. Actually, there was another quarter available, a shopping cart, but it had been left in the far corner of the second level at Ala Moana, a long, long way from Foodland. I had decided against returning it on Sunday evening when I first spotted it and again felt too lazy when it was still there early Monday morning. There had been a couple of loaves of bread in the breadbasket, the first time I've stopped by there in quite awhile, and I stopped to put some peanut butter on one of them but, alas, someone finally discovered that stash and the tub of peanut butter was gone. Anyone willing to lug off that big jar must have been pretty hungry, and I didn't mind so much losing it as I did losing the convenience of that stash spot.

Since I had the bread and also had some rice and macaroni salad from Sunday evening in my casserole, I didn't bother to hang around outside McDonald's to see if a 7-Eleven box would show up. As I was leaving McD's, smiling because Bobby had been available to give me my refill, Conrad strolled up with a beer can in his hand. I wished him good morning and mentioned that he might not really want to go into McD's with that can. I don't think he even knew he was carrying it. Still drunk as a skunk.

Speaking of that refill, I was reminded of earlier days when I was so reluctant to ask for the refill since I'd only paid twenty-six cents for the coffee. Now, like all the old folks who congregate there every morning, I always return for a refill. One night last week, I got off the bus at the hacienda and the Snorer exited the bus from the rear door. I hadn't noticed him on the bus. After we crossed the street, we laughed over the idea that at first we both had lingered by the bus stop until traffic started to move before walking up the path to the benches, as though it made any difference to the people in stopped cars. But if there are people standing at the bus stop on that side of the road, I still walk down to the more distant path to the benches. Little "niceties" that probably don't matter at all, any more than it matters to the staff at McD's that we all go back for a refill.

I was thinking about what I'd written on the subject of giving to undeserving people. What if the reverse is true, if giving accrues merit, then not giving brings demerit! I hope not giving is only a missed opportunity for future merit and not an actual deduction, because there are a few street folks I've almost always refused. There's one black lady, not all that old, who has been on the street for at least five years and always asks me for a dollar, even now. I did give her five dollars at Christmas time, but otherwise always refuse. The fact that she constantly has a cigarette in her mouth is part of the reason. On Sunday evening, alongside Ward Centre, a panhandler started to give me his spiel and I guess the look I gave him got through immediately since he stopped abruptly and said "oh, I guess not", and walked on. There are a few people I give a dollar to each month from the pension check even though they never ask anyone for anything, but most of the ones who ask get turned down even during that first week of the month. Yep, I'll be in trouble if not giving to the undeserving is a deduction.

156a

The post-alcohol dream syndrome clicked in on Monday night and despite an almost-uninterrupted, long sleep, I woke feeling more tired than I had when settling onto the bench. Almost-uninterrupted, because the Snorer came in later and had a brief chat with the Big Local Dude which woke me up. After that marathon session with Conrad and his beer on Sunday night, I could hardly complain.

Several disconnected vivid sequences from the dreams remain. In one, I was in a house which had a huge window in one wall, the glass covered with metal grillwork. On the other side was another room, with a sofa and a short hall leading off it. On the floor of the hallway two naked young men with very small penises were doing some heavy petting. There was a family of cats in the room and the kittens kept coming up to the glass and looking at me. On the back of the sofa was a collection of stuffed animals which at one point began to move around and stretch, opening and closing their mouths, reminding me of the Tiki Room at Disneyland.

In another sequence, part of a much longer, not entirely remembered saga, I was walking on a wide sidewalk leading up a hill. I had to detour around one section where workmen were just smoothing over a section of fresh concrete. Near the top of the hill was a man with a very large rotary lawnmower and he simply gave it a push and let it start rolling down the hill. I jumped out of its way and watched it plow into the fresh concrete, throwing great splashes of the stuff around before proceeding on its way. Later, when I got back to the house where I was staying, I reported that three women and two children had been killed by the runaway machine, but then remembered there had been a similar incident in the week before and wasn't sure if my information was correct. The house was in turmoil because the landlord was about to pay a visit. I went into the kitchen to wash up but the sink had no faucets and I was told there was no running water anywhere in the house.

There was a scene in a restaurant where I was supposed to meet my mother and another woman. I spotted them, went to the lua, and when I got back they had left, so I wandered around trying to find them, stumbled into a rally celebrating the fact that the Stones were going to give a free concert at Honolulu Airport.

And on and on and on all night ... Bring out the bottle of wine.

It occurred to me on Monday that I actually eat better now than I did when I was a householder. It was my habit then to make large pots of stuff like chili or macaroni and cheese, then nibble on that for days until it was all gone, supplemented occasionally by sandwiches. Now I get quite a variety of food and, at least on most days, more of it than I ate in the householder era. Monday's lunch was two sandwiches (ham and egg, ham and cheese) plus a California Valencia orange. Only the bulbuls would eat bits of the orange, the other birds just ignored it. Then a very large plate lunch container of chicken katsu and fried rice with vegetables turned up for dinner, about three times as much chicken as in the 7-Eleven version. And for dessert, a generous portion of Spaghetti Bolognese. The only time Dame Fortune took pity on my thirst was with a most unusual half bottle of Heineken found on campus, and a small Pepsi cup of one of those berry-flavored wine coolers, not enough to stave off the post-alcohol dream syndrome.

I spent quite a lot of time playing MUD2 on Monday, partly because my annual subscription will expire at the end of the month and it will cease to be part of my life for the first time in 12 years, aside from breaks when traveling and during the early months in Honolulu. Readers have asked how it is I continue to find pleasure from a text-based game after having played it for so long. At its best, it isn't really just a game, it's an alternate reality peopled with many old friends, a few enemies old and new, and a delightful collection of computer-generated friends and enemies. No, I don't play it because I'm "someone" in there (as one reader speculated). I rarely play these days as my Wizard, but go in as an anonymous new character which only other Wizards know is me. Playing as a Wizard is also great fun, especially when there are lots of new players, but it's as a lowlife that I most enjoy The Land of MUD2, and I've no doubt I shall greatly miss it, as I have during times in the past when I couldn't play.

I looked at another, free, multi-player game yesterday but found it hardly compared with the sophistication of MUD2. There was a brief time when there was no site for MUD2 and I conducted a similar search without finding any suitable alternative and I don't have much hope of better luck this time.

Speaking of enemies, the dreaded Army of Cleaners has a new recruit, a young local man, probably a high school student doing a summer job as one of those fellows who walk around the Ala Moana parking lot in the early morning with a long-handled dustpan and broom. I first saw him three days ago, his hair tied back with a piece of cloth, faded local-style shorts, slippers, and a green tee shirt. I thought his schoolmates probably give him a hard time for taking such an awful job, even for the summer. He's very, very cute and the pleasure of seeing him more than cancels out any annoyance that he starts so early and sometimes hits a beergarden before I get there. He probably doesn't even drink the beer ... what a waste.

Like most young local dudes, he's aware of my admiration. The young ones seem to clue into it instantly, but men of the late thirties-early forties generation rarely do, and there are several at Ala Moana who certainly get my keen attention every morning, especially some members of the construction crew. Perhaps they've been married so long they no longer expect anyone to find them sexually attractive? If so, they're very wrong.

I stopped by the breadbasket early on Tuesday morning and for the first time in several weeks grabbed two of those yummy round loaves of wheat bread. The birds of Manoa and the old Panther having a fine time in the secluded grove was assured, and the backpack was crowded despite the lamentable lack of desirable beverages.

And the Panther mutters: remember, remember, do NOT walk around wanting something you can't have.

157

Dame Fortune must have taken the early part of the week off.

But there was good news on campus Tuesday ... the NICE kids are back, effectively doubling the supply of tobacco. It has been more scarce on campus than usual, perhaps because the newcomers are all too young to legally buy cigarettes. I was in a 7-Eleven last week and was amused to see a young fellow get carded before he could have his pack of Marboros. It reminded me of the thrill I got when buying my first pack of Lucky Strikes, a few months after I had turned fourteen, and conjured up a vision of teenagers hanging around outside a store asking "hey mister, will you buy a pack of cigarettes for me?" We used to do that for beer and there was an old guy who always said yes when we asked, on condition that he got one from the six-pack. I think he probably had a very generous daily supply of brew just from our high school.

I decided to call the Most Promising Newcomer "Timothy", after Tiny Tim (the Dickens Tim, not the sixties freak). He has crutches, is why. I'm pretty sure it's only a temporary affliction, but it does add considerably to his charm. I saw him every morning except Wednesday when it was drizzling too heavy for our usual bench rendezvous, and on Tuesday we exchanged "good morning" greetings before he left for a 10 a.m. class in Keller Hall. He's the first student since Tomita-san whose schedule has interested me. It's one of those encounters where a very definite connection is felt, over and beyond the physical attraction, and it's a pleasure to have noticed him in these early days of his college career, will be interesting to watch him develop and mature. Sometimes I think I should have been a teacher.

By early afternoon on Tuesday I had reached a state of near hysteria. I just could not stop thinking about beer, no matter how much I lectured and kicked myself. I strongly dislike having that strong a craving for anything. It's bad enough having it for cigarettes. I wrestled with my mind for several hours and then surrendered. It was a case of beg, borrow or steal to get a beer. Two bottles of Mickey's later and I was still lecturing myself but had at least calmed down and had a splendid late afternoon in the secluded grove, watching the birds pig out on that yummy wheat bread and reading Hesse.

By the time I was ready to leave campus the weather looked quite threatening, so I decided to stay at the cloisters. Shortly after I got there, it did start raining and seemed to have continued throughout the night, judging by the lakes that had formed. I took a bus over to Ward Avenue and got coffee from Jack-in-the-Box for the first time in over a week. The beergardens were empty of both beer and food, even had very few cigarette butts. Where oh where has my good fortune gone? Even the ashtrays at the Ala Moana Hotel had been cleaned out, either by cleaning people or the ever-increasing nomad competitors who hang out at the mall and may have discovered the benefit of taking that walk up the ramp to the hotel. There was a bag of Aloha Gourmet "Honey Banana Chips" to go with McD's coffee, a strange thing to do with bananas and a strange breakfast. Although I, and several other regulars, lingered outside McD's until eight, no 7-Eleven box arrived. A shame, I was really in the mood for a pastry or two.

I stayed at the hacienda on Wednesday night and for the first time in several weeks, Rocky showed up. Although there were several other alternatives, he took the bench directly behind me which, in the new arrangement, meant an almost intimate night together. He had recently had his hair cut in one of those bizarre styles which includes the sides shaved, a patch of longish hair on top, with a stubby ponytail sticking up near the back. It looked quite silly, but the young (and some not so young) do have to go through the hair experiment stage. He has small, graceful feet. I hadn't noticed before, partly because the place was never so brightly illuminated in the old days when he was a regular. I did glance at him once before he fell asleep and got his usual bristling attitude, subtle but unmistakable. Why anyone who dislikes being looked at would get such a weird haircut is difficult to understand. When I woke in the morning, he was still sound asleep so I could look at him without giving offense. A strange fellow, but I like him a lot and was happy to see him again.

The day of decision over Paxil. I consulted the I Ching as is my habit whenever uncertain of a path to choose. Its reply was quite thoroughly ambiguous, something I've learned to accept as basically a "it doesn't matter, do what you like" message. And I guess that is my feeling, too. It really doesn't matter.

On Thursday morning a rebellious newspaper fan had, as often happens, left a machine propped open by standing a newspaper upright, so I took a newspaper and read it with my morning coffee outside McD's. I've tried my best to ignore all the Clinton "scandal" stuff but find myself increasingly annoyed by the headlines which are impossible to avoid and even more annoyed reading the full story of the day, forcing Secret Service agents to testify. It's stupid, incredibly stupid. All this investigative nonsense is far worse than Clinton getting a little on the side, not something all that unusual in the history of the American Presidency. I don't particularly admire the man but I admire even less this tacky public circus.

Reading newspapers is a terrible waste of time and mental energy but I can't really claim to do much else with either time or energy, especially in that hour or so with the morning coffee, so no matter.

And there it is again ... it doesn't really matter.

158

My old flame, I can't even think of his name, but it's funny now and then, how my thoughts keep turning back again, to my old flame ...

Ah, the days before the Era of the Internet when "flame" had a sweeter meaning. Or more bittersweet. The jukebox revved up that tune after I spotted the KM twin at Ala Moana on Friday morning. I hadn't seen him since last year in Kapiolani Park. It's incredible how much alike they are, dress alike, and he even has the walk. It was good to see him again, conjured up nice music on the jukebox and warm memories to ponder over senior coffees.

No 7-Eleven box again, alas, and only a half-flask of beer. Thursday's rations had been so slim I had to resort to my emergency stash at Hamilton after finishing off a piece of roast chicken saved from Wednesday and a ham sandwich. I dug through a trashcan to find something for the birds and they got lucky, plenty of rice. I should probably have eaten some of it myself. It's so much fun watching the zebra doves eat sticky rice. The grains tend to stick to their bills and they flick away at it with a claw, like an old hound dog scratching fleas. Often it sends the grain of rice flying several feet and someone else gets it. The one spotted dove who dominates the grove spent most of its time trying to chase away another one, then got into an unusual squabble with the bulbuls who won't be intimidated by anyone.

It was while sitting there, watching the birds and finishing again the main part of Glass Bead Game, that I finally decided to continue with Paxil. So I took a bus to the clinic and the young doctor was sitting at the reception desk. I explained why I was there. The psychiatrist hadn't come in yet, so I sat to wait for him. After he arrived, the young doctor appeared again with a brown paper bag and said the psychiatrist had okayed a three-week supply, asked if I wanted to see him anyway. There were a few people waiting, so I said no, that wasn't necessary, and thanked him for the bag. I didn't tell him that looking forward to seeing him was part of my reason for being there, but did mention that a friend who urged me to continue with Paxil was part of the reason. And that since it apparently takes about four weeks for the full effect of the stuff, I was curious to see what would happen.

I got back to campus and played MUD for several hours, enjoying these last days in it even though having extraordinarily bad luck in there all week. The Army of Cleaners on campus are being far too conscientious this session. Why can't they get computers and spend their time playing games or posting to Usenet like a proper UH employee, instead of running around cleaning ashtrays and carting off plate lunch boxes in their big plastic bags? Even worse, the Army at Ward had also been overactive on Thursday, leaving the area a complete desert for the urban hunter/gatherer. Off to the bench slightly hungry.

Only the Snorer and the Big Local Dude and his lady were there. The hacienda now has bright lights on the outside walls, left on all night, illuminating even the outside benches. It seems a silly waste of electricity and I wonder if they fear an invasion of airport refugees and are trying to make the place a less attractive sanctuary. It seems to be working, since the regulars have mostly vanished, but there hasn't yet been any noticeable sign of airport folks showing up in town, no doubt partly because they haven't (yet) forced anyone to leave the airport despite the much more restricted space available there at nights.

The BLD and the Snorer apparently suffered simultaneous insomnia because they woke me up chatting at about 3:15 in the morning and it took almost half an hour to return to sleep. The one great advantage of the cloisters is its lack of such socializing amongst the regulars there. Its major disadvantage, of course, is its distance from the more promising morning hunting grounds, but then they haven't been all that promising this week.

And crashing bore, there's a "Sidewalk Sale" at Ala Moana mall this weekend. I hated those things in the days when I was actually a shopper and my nephew and I usually made an expedition there each weekend. I hate them even more now since they make access to the ashtrays so much more difficult and greatly increase the number of people standing around with nothing to do but watch me (or so it seems).

But as the fourth week of Paxil starts, I'm relieved to have that decision, at least, settled for now. In what should be such a carefree life, with only very basic things to concern me, there has lately been more than usual pressure from decisions to be made and chores which (probably) should be done, and a realization that after nine months of this odyssey a point has been reached when there's a growing need for a small influx of capital. Like Scarlett, I'll think about it tomorrow ... tomorrow's another day.

159

Although it should certainly be deeply etched in my memory bank, I'd forgotten what a brutal hangover that Gordon Biersch Marzen brew causes if consumed in immoderate amounts and six-and-a-half glasses of the stuff can, I think, be called immoderate. (The other half got poured into my flask and saved for the proverbial hair of the dog.)

Jonathan Cainer was right on target with his prediction of a relaxing, enjoyable weekend. It was often considerably warmer than I prefer, reminding me why I like winter in Hawai'i more than summer (despite all the complaints about the unusually cold days last winter). But aside from walking around in a light sweat much of the time, it was a fine weekend, getting off to an unexpectedly liquid start when I stopped by Manoa Garden late on Friday afternoon. I'd just planned to say hello to Bryant the Bartender and tell him about Willie and Amy being at Gordon Biersch on Sunday, but the campus representatives from Budweiser were at the bar with free samples of a new (and much better) version of Air Crisps. Even better, anyone ordering Budweiser got the welcome surprise of being told it was on the house! Then someone from the food side brought over a tray of pastries which couldn't be kept over the weekend, so I nabbed three huge chocolate chip cookies, tucked them away for later and ate a few doughnuts, washed down with two big jugs of free Budweiser. A perfectly timed visit to the Garden.

I was supposed to meet friends for dinner at 7:30 but got delayed watching a Bon dance in front of a Buddhist temple, so was late to dinner. After dinner we watched a tape of one of my favorite films, "Amadeus", which, as always, made me sad. How stupid Salieri was, whether or not he actually poisoned Mozart, how much more admirable a figure he would be in the history of music if he had championed Mozart rather than putting obstacles in his path whenever possible.

Because of the long film, I got to the hacienda later than usual and Romeo had taken the bench next to Rocky. But on Saturday and Sunday nights, I returned to that bench and Rocky came in after me and both nights took the bench next to me with a young man on the other side I'd not seen before, probably a buddy of Rocky's. They came in so quietly it didn't wake me either night and both were still sleeping when I left in the mornings. And a long-ago mystery returned. During Rocky's extended absence, those bags with neatly packaged rice treats never appeared, but there was one on Sunday morning, leading me again to suspect that it is Rocky who leaves them on an outside bench. It's the best rice I've ever eaten, even plain, but the little packets also had part of the rice soaked with a delicious sauce (not shoyu) and pieces of watercress. The birds got a little of the plain rice, but not much. I'd picked up two loaves of wheat bread plus a couple of baked potatoes, unopened cans of Budweiser and Bud Lite, plus a flask of Steinlager, so Sunday lunch was a fine one, for me and for the birds who really like that wheat bread.

Saturday's provisions had not been quite so plentiful. After a walk to Ala Moana for coffee, I went to campus and spent the entire day in the secluded grove reading. Several weeks ago I'd found a copy of Solzenitzen's The First Circle. It was far too big and heavy to carry around, so I stashed it on campus and finally went to retrieve it. I hadn't read it before and found it totally engrossing, finished about three-quarters of it on Saturday and the rest on Sunday. Aside from a few people passing through, I had the grove all to myself both days and realized once again how much I love that spot, my spot in the Castaneda sense.

The birds there have now grown so used to me that they come flocking the minute I sit down and since I didn't have anything for them on Saturday morning, I first went to rummage through a trashcan to find some rice for them. As usual, they got lucky, and I found a plate lunch box with a lot of rice in it. The sparrows and Brazilian Cardinals actually prefer rice to bread, even the wheat bread, as I discovered on Sunday morning when I had both to offer. The bulbuls are getting much bolder and more comfortable with me, often coming to perch right beside me on the bench waiting for a treat without having to compete with the others on the ground. It has gotten to the point where I don't think I'd go to the grove at all unless I had something for the birds.

The sidewalk sale at Ala Moana made it a place to avoid all weekend. Aside from the early morning coffee and a quick hunt for tobacco, I stayed away both Saturday and Sunday. But as I was walking through on Saturday evening, I spotted a tray left on a table in the Food Court with a large slice of pizza and a salad. I love it when people do that. Then there was a box with a huge manapua from Patti's Chinese Kitchen left on a bench. That's not my favorite food, but it certainly was the best I'd ever tried, just needed a bit less dough and more of the filling. Still, after a day when there was little food to be found, both discoveries were most welcome and I went on to the bench for a contented early sleep.

After coffee and a shower on Sunday morning, I went up to campus and continued reading, went on-line briefly, then enjoyed the beer and lunch in the grove while finishing the book. I made a quick tour of Ala Moana to replenish the tobacco supply and then headed down to Aloha Tower. It was still very warm and stayed that way until after sunset. At first I didn't see anyone I knew in Gordon Biersch so I went upstairs and listened to Maunalua from up there, then because it was difficult to see who might have gone in, I made another walk around GB and spotted an on-liner talking with Rick Ermshar who invited me to join his table. He was with a crowd of people who are Maunalua fans, regulars at Roy's for their Sunday night gigs, including Matt Swalinkavich's father whom I hadn't met before. It was the first time in over a year that I'd seen Rick and was funny to see him in the same spot where I first met him, one evening when he'd been playing bass with Matt at the Pier Bar and strolled over to say hello to Harold Kama, who introduced us. Long ago, innocent days ...

It's amazing how many people still work at GB who have been there from the start. Kevin Murphy and Mikey Ventura were, alas, at the inside bar, but Tim was outside behind the bar and Jamie was our table's server. In the old days, my favorite afternoons at GB were when Kevin was the outside bartender and Jamie the server, always great fun to be with, especially on a quiet afternoon. Poor Kawika got demoted from floor manager back to server, but stayed on anyway and seemed happy enough. Since GB has gone through at least three general managers, it's even more remarkable that so many of the staff have endured.

After Maunalua, Willie K and Amy played for a bit over an hour and a half, one of the most delightful times I've spent listening to those two. My beer glass never got empty and stayed full when I moved inside after the music ended. Two young ladies ordered a massive dessert and left more than half of it, so I grabbed that and finished it off for them. (Mikey V is used to me by now). A most excellent evening, musically and nutritionally, and it brought back lots of happy memories of the many hours I used to spend at Gordon Biersch. Even Joseph being at the outside bar didn't cloud the pleasure, especially since I didn't have to deal with him.

I was so stewed but somehow got to the bench, fell asleep immediately without bothering with the earplugs and nothing, not even the Snorer, woke me until almost 5:30. Ouch. Like I said, that brew does pack a solid hangover. I couldn't face that hair of the dog until almost eleven on Monday morning.

160

I feel charming, oh so charming, it's alarming how charming I feel ...

Whacko internal jukebox. Oh well, I've always liked that ingenious lyric.

If it's an orange, it must be Monday. The students who get brown bags from the campus food service apparently are given a ham and egg sandwich, a ham and cheese sandwich, a small bag of chips and an orange on Mondays. Someone doesn't like oranges. I'm surprised only one such bag has turned up each week but perhaps most students throw their unwanted oranges away at the dorm instead of carrying the bag to class. Tuesday, on the other hand, was a Holly Golightly morning. Champagne breakfast. Well, not quite ... poor man's "champagne", California sparkling wine, a whole flask-full. To do it right, I should have gone upstairs at Ala Moana and enjoyed it at dawn outside Tiffany's but I didn't feel like playing Lulu Mae and thought it would be enjoyed more as a late brunch in the secluded grove, along with the Zippy's fried chicken, fries, and macaroni salad which someone at the Ala Moana Hotel decided they didn't want after all. Don't worry, birds, I picked up some wheat bread for you guys, too.

As Sunday evening approached, I still hadn't found coins for Monday morning's senior coffee. At the Gordon Biersch table, I sat between Rick Ermshar and Papa Swalinkavich. The fellow on the other side of Matt's daddy was across the table from me and I immediately noticed a shiney new quarter on the floor under his chair. I looked at it every now and then, hoping no one else would notice. Finally, he got up to take some pictures with his videocamera so I said "this is driving me crazy", jumped up and got the quarter. Dame Fortune made the Tuesday morning coffee a little easier by arranging for a quarter to be left on the floor inside Hamilton Library. A day at a time ...

"How ya' doing?" Not something I usually say, but it just popped out of my mouth as I passed Timothy sitting on his favorite bench. He nodded and smiled in reply. Great smile, that lad has. Sitting in the grove, feeding the birds with rice from musubi found at Ala Moana, I was thinking about Cainer's message for the week and imagined being in the front car of the roller coaster Cainer predicted, Timothy at my side. The crush deepens.

I can understand what the reader meant who called Paxil a "psychic enema" but for me it's more a rest home, an old-fashioned sanatorium beside a pleasant mountain lake. Abiding contentment, no matter how many could-be irritations arise. Monday was one of those days when it seemed every treasure trove was guarded, somebody hanging around every good ashtray, even standing near a table where a plate lunch box had been left, lingering so long I got fed up and put the box in my bag and walked off. If they don't want to be shocked, they just have to find less valuable places to stand around and chat. Then, when I got to the hacienda, the Snorer and the Big Local Dude were yakking away. The BLD started into a rant about Jesus, so I stuffed the earplugs in my ears and settled down to sleep. I could still hear the murmur of their voices but could no longer detect what was being said and drifted into semi-sleep. Then Rocky and his buddy came in. His buddy settled down immediately, but the Snorer then started yakking to Rocky. That was more interesting because I've never heard Rocky say as much as he did during that conversation, even if it was mostly just polite responses. I took a peek and saw Rocky was sitting there with his Walkman and headphones in his hand, obviously eager to escape the conversation, but the Snorer was really wound up and didn't get the message. I readjusted the earplugs to create better blockage and fell asleep while they were still talking. Since there was no alcohol haze involved, alas, it can only be the Paxil which kept it all from annoying me since only Rocky's interesting accent provided any reason to accept it all so calmly.

Well, I can hardly complain about contentment, especially in these penniless days when life probably should feel more hazardous than it does.

161

Perhaps it was the unusually warm, slightly muggy temperature and the weak tradewinds. Whatever the reason, there were more angry people than usual stomping around on Tuesday evening, either muttering or shouting rude remarks to other people or to the universe in general. Fortunately the mood didn't spread to the hacienda where the Snorer had already settled down, the Big Local Dude had no one to talk to and his lady ignored the few remarks he made to her. The benches had been re-arranged again, now back in their original positions, including the two oddly placed facing each other. Romeo took the bench behind me, Rocky's buddy and Rocky taking the next in line. Consequently I got a better look at the buddy than I've had yet, since he had been mostly hidden by Rocky's bench up to now. He's a handsome fellow. Rocky has good taste.

Speaking of handsome fellows, as I was walking past Ward Centre on Tuesday evening, a young Samoan fellow grinned at me and said "hi". I smiled back and said "howzit" although I didn't immediately know who he was. Then I realized, he was the young man from the beach on the Fourth of July. I was surprised he remembered me because I don't think I would have recognized him if he hadn't spoken.

That other handsome young fellow, the lad with the dustpan at Ala Moana, got temporarily promoted on Monday to driving one of those big vacuum cleaner machines. I suppose the regular driver must not have come in. But he was back with the dustpan the next day and on Wednesday morning had been assigned the area right outside McD's. He's obviously not happy with the job (who can blame him) and I think a bunch of shiftless layabouts sitting around drinking their coffees didn't do anything to help his mood since he kept spitting rather contemptuously. His main trouble is, like so many young local men, his rebelliously arrogant insistence on the "local look", or at least I perceive that as a problem for them. It must be difficult to get a decent job with that image, except perhaps at some beach concession, and competition for those jobs is intense.

I stopped over to see Kory K early on Tuesday morning and consequently missed seeing Timothy before his 10 a.m. class. Still, it was worth it for a quick preview of Guy Cruz's forthcoming CD. Sounds like mostly very pleasant, laidback music, not a trace of anything local, and it seems a shame the release is delayed for another two months since summer would appear to be the ideal time to have gotten it into the marketplace.

While I very much enjoyed my "champagne" lunch on Tuesday in the secluded grove, and the birds enjoyed their wheat bread, nothing else turned up later in the day and it was beginning to look like a bench-without-dinner day, but then a bag from the Spaghetti House at Ward Warehouse was waiting. Egg noodles in a more subtle sauce than any I've had from the restaurant before, and some delicious bread. Rolls so large they might aptly be called small loaves, rather thick chewy crust, and even with the unusual luxury of a small tub of butter to go with them. I put one of the rolls and the remaining butter away for a Wednesday brunch and was happy to find some less luxuriant bread later to give the birds so I wouldn't have to face the temptation of sharing the Spaghetti House loaf with them. (I wouldn't bet on them not getting any of it, though.) And after I had said to Kory K that the only beer I never bothered taking was Coors Light, Dame Fortune had to laugh in my face and leave a can of the stuff outside Ward Centre at a trolley stop. Okay, okay, so I drank it. Bleugh, might as well just drink water.

Note that "more subtle sauce" remark. Maybe I could get a job at Gourmet Magazine, doing an occasional article on cuisine from the homeless point of view? Like I told Kory K, I've tasted almost every dish Marriott offers in their campus facilities, probably more than anyone with the possible exception of those poor dorm students who are forced to subscribe to the Marriott food service program (whether they like oranges or not). And there are a few restaurants in town whose offerings I know almost as well, certainly better than I did in my householder days when I never would have considered spending the money to go to them.

That 7-Eleven box, on the other hand, has been conspicuously absent for some days now and I wonder if the management at Ala Moana asked them to stop leaving it there. I think in their position I would have. They really don't need any added attractions, aside from McD's senior coffee, luring yet more of the nomads and giving them reason to linger even longer. I should stroll by 7-Eleven itself early one morning and watch what goes on, but it's well off the beergarden path and that's my major hunt in the predawn hours, which on Wednesday yielded only one bottle of Bud Lite. I need as part of my "network" a friendly shopkeeper who would let me trade bottles or cans of "light" beer for the real thing, since it's the same price. I don't know why people pay the same money for the weak version. Weird.

An aspect of the Paxil experience I haven't said much about is its remarkable affect on memory. Old, long unthought about, memories surface unexpectedly, often with dramatic clarity including almost a complete sensation of what the original moment felt like, even smelled like. I had such a "flashback" while walking through Keller Hall on Wednesday morning and suddenly it felt exactly like walking through the YMCA Tourist Hostel in New Delhi, on my way to the communal breakfast room. It's thoroughly uncanny but quite delightful, even if a temptation to wallow in nostalgia. There was a similar moment on Tuesday evening when I felt transported to an evening in London, sitting on steps in Patricia's bedroom, listening to Egbert talk about Egypt. I could even hear in my mind the music that was being played. It's extraordinary that our minds record and archive everything in such detail and can recall it with total clarity. Anyone contemplating a serious autobiography should consider taking Paxil for a time.

162

There are two main methods for an urban hunter/gatherer to use in finding the necessities and occasional luxuries of life. One way is to stay more or less constantly on the move, allowing Dame Fortune varied opportunities to direct the steps toward the desired objects. The other way is to lurk quietly and patiently, prepared to pounce when circumstances look promising. The first is my usual procedure but on the first weekend of the sixth moon of the Tiger, it was far too warm for constant movement. So like a panther, I lay in ambush (well, sat, actually) behind a bush outside Foodland and watched for likely victims. On weekends when the mall is crowded, there is much more likelihood that people will have to park further from the store than at other times and thus opportunities to return carts and retrieve quarters are more plentiful.

Like a panther, however, it is my nature to approach the final kill delicately and there are jackals and hyenas on the prowl, ready to instantly leap in and snatch the prize. An old lady emerged from Foodland, the perfect mark. I followed discreetly behind. She stopped to look in a boutique window, then went into the shop (with her cart). I waited outside until she came out and started over to the bus stop. Once there she slowly removed the bags from the cart. Waiting for her to move a little distance away from it, a nasty competitor ran up, grabbed the cart and started rolling it away! She just smiled. I didn't. But I did learn my lesson and changed my routine to saying "I guess you aren't planning to take that back?", thus not only ensuring first grab at the cart but also providing the opportunity for several pleasant conversations.

That one foiled venture added a useless half-hour to a two-hour hunt on Saturday. Two hours of work for a bottle of Mickey's, although only about fifteen minutes of it involved actual work and the rest of the time was merely sitting and waiting. Having finally gotten my $2.25, I took the bus up to campus and enjoyed the bottle of Mickey's while sharing some rice with the birds in the secluded grove, my only visit to campus during the weekend.

Thursday night I was sitting on the bench savoring a nightcap when I saw Rocky and his buddy walking up the path. I was happy to see them together since the night before Rocky had been on his own. Rocky disappeared off to the side, presumably to water the bushes, and his handsome buddy sat on one of the outside benches finishing a cigarette. Then he looked at me, flashed a big grin and waved. I smiled and waved back, just as Rocky came into view. He looked over and waved, too, and I nodded a greeting in return. The first overt moves toward a diplomatic relationship? Evidently so, because on Friday evening as I was walking up the path I saw Rocky sitting alone on an outside bench. In the past that has been my cue to walk past him, being very careful not to look at him, but after the previous night's exchange, I looked right at him, smiled and said "hello". He smiled back, said hello very brightly and gave a little wave. Zing went the strings of my heart.

Speaking of that organ, although the boring chest pain has happily been absent recently, those strings are zinging much of the time. Never in my life have I been captivated by so many men at the same time. It's most unanticipated. I expected such interests to be at low simmer on a backburner at this stage of my life, not to be having daily contact with a dozen or so handsome and charming young men, all of whom treat me with delightful warmth and courtesy. Among the many blessings of this new lifestyle, that is indeed the greatest.

On Sunday morning I found a copy of the May issue of GQ. I was a charter subscriber to that magazine when it really was quarterly and went by its full name, being, if I remember correctly, an offshoot from Esquire. This issue was devoted to the theme, "The Good Life", and included such pedestrian notions as a first-class flight to Paris, a suite at the Crillon, dinner at expensive restaurants and $425 shirts. Humbug. That may be briefly amusing, but it's not the Good Life, not really.

The Good Life is waking up on a warm Sunday morning, an hour before dawn, walking through the quiet streets of Kakaako, filling a flask with beer and finding an unopened bottle of Heineken as well. Sitting outside McDonald's enjoying two cups of coffee, crossing over to the park in the early sunshine, having an envigorating cold shower and sitting in the sun sipping the beer camouflaged by the coffee cup. Returning to the mall when the sun begins to feel too warm, finding a shopping cart at the bus stop and wheeling it back for the quarter, spotting another cart along the way. Taking a bus to Kapiolani Park and spending the afternoon at a music festival, getting a hug from my favorite percussionist (zing, again), returning to the mall and finding enough quarters to enjoy a bottle of Mickey's while watching the Waikiki night skyline from Ward Centre.

That's the Good Life, especially since I found half a bottle of Cuervo Gold, li hing mui style, on my way to the bandstand and the 'Ukelele Festival. They keep a bottle of 1800 like that at Duke's and a bartender once gave me a shot of the stuff since I'd never tasted it. He mistook my enthusiastic thanks as liking it (rather than just liking a free shot of tequila, no matter what) and frequently gave me shots of it thereafter, even though I thought it sacrilege to adulterate Cuervo 1800 with dried fruit. Whoever did the adulteration of that abandoned bottle of Gold went well overboard. It was sickly sweet and syrupy, so I could understand why it had been abandoned. However, it also packed the whallop Cuervo always packs so it was a welcome addition to the afternoon's festivities.

Looking back to last week, Wednesday turned out much differently than I had expected. As usual, I picked up the new Honolulu Weekly and sent an email to my two favorite movie companions with news of what would be closing and opening on Friday, adding the note that the Weekly was offering free passes to a special showing of Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" that evening. They immediately decided we should go. Since only one pass (good for two) was being given to each person calling at the office for them, I had to make a trip downtown, too. It turned out the film was being shown at the Signature Theatre complex, so we had to make a dash to get out there by seven but traffic was moving smoothly and even if we had been twenty minutes late it wouldn't have much mattered since KSSK, who was paying for the free showing, did a little promo patter beforehand, complete with prizes, one bag of which Helen R. won.

As I wrote elsewhere, Spielberg seems determined to make a film so intense that audiences will run screaming from the theatre. "Saving Private Ryan" is the first film in many years where I found myself involuntarily closing my eyes, satiated with the images of horror. War is hell, and this is one film which makes that abundantly clear. It's also a beautifully made film, another solid addition to his library of masterworks, and I was grateful to have seen it even if it did give me bizarre nightmares that night. I went to see it again on the weekend, managing to keep my eyes open throughout and leaving with even more admiration for the film than I'd had after the first viewing.

The tobacco supply was abundant all week and through the weekend. The patient game of waiting also pays off sometimes when it comes to food. On Friday I noticed a group of students with plate lunch boxes. All but one of them had already closed up their boxes, and the one who hadn't was nibbling at his food. I sat nearby and waited. Sure enough, they soon got up and discarded the boxes. I quickly retrieved his and had a fine meal of lau lau, beef stew and rice. The lomilomi salmon got discarded a second time. I have a suspicion that fellow had been urged to taste local food for the first time and hadn't been much impressed. Fine with me, I love lau lau but won't eat it unless I'm certain it's fresh. Lomilomi salmon and poi, however, are two local delicacies I don't like at all.

The Food Court at Ala Moana is another place where the waiting game usually pays off. Sooner or later someone leaves their tray on the table instead of taking it to the trash bin. The problem with the game is making sure the tray has been abandoned, that the owner hasn't just walked off to get something else (one man almost lost his dinner when I misjudged the situation and was about to make off with his tray), but this caution has to be balanced against the ever-active Cleaning Army in the place who will take away a tray whether it has been permanently abandoned or not. I've lost several good meals to them, but did manage to score a fine dinner on Saturday of sweet and sour pork, beef and broccoli, and fried rice from Patti's Chinese Kitchen. Another usually reliable dining establishment is an area of the International Marketplace at the Kuhio end where people working in the shops there usually abandon generously portioned plate lunch boxes after eating less than half of the contents. A quite good enchilada and Spanish rice dish from the Mexican place in that Food Court provided Sunday's dinner.

A most unusual prize from a rambling hunt appeared on Saturday evening. I had stopped up to the Ala Moana Hotel for tobacco and a young Japanese fellow walked by, dropping a Sports Authority bag into the trash bin. I looked to see what was in it and found a pair of Converse sports shoes, black, and although obviously not new, not all that worn either. Incredibly, they fit me perfectly. So for the first time in over a year, I wore shoes and socks. I kept them on all evening and was very, very happy to take them off once I reached the bench. They'd no doubt be very welcome in winter but are much too warm for this time of year. I stashed them in the place which once held the peanut butter until I get a convenient chance to take them to campus. Maybe the peanut butter filcher won't have the same size feet.

Days of warm sunshine, plenty to smoke, a few good meals and lots of snacks, the luxury of a few beers and some tequila, even the oddity of a pair of shoes, encounters with good-looking, charming young men. Yes, it would be nice to have more than three pennies in my pocket, but the stories of the Good Life I read in that GQ, all of which required substantially more than three cents to accomplish, contained nothing to make me envious.

163

Faded black teeshirt, small white No Fear logo on the front. On the back a message never fully deciphered, ending in a phrase about hating to lose. Loosely cut Levi's bunched in front by a black cloth, military style belt, the folds leaving everything to the imagination. A wallet tucked in the front pocket, secured to a belt loop by a leather strap and short chain. Under the bench, an arcade token and three pennies fallen from a pocket. White socks and very new Nike Airs (the lad has no shortage of funds, it would seem). Now and then the teeshirt would slide up, revealing a strip of flat, brown belly and the top of bright red boxers. On the left arm, Chinese or Japanese characters tattooed in a column from just below the elbow to the wrist. On the bicep a colored tattoo, an unidentifable design.

Be careful what you wish for ...

Tale 162 was written over several days and some things were edited out in the final version including a remark wishing that Rocky's buddy would sleep on the bench behind me sometime, although doubting Rocky would allow that. Whether Rocky had any say in the matter, the wish came true. As I was walking up the path, I noticed my usual bench was surrounded. A body was on the bench behind it, another body on the bench next to it. Surrounded by angels, Rocky beside me at my feet, Mondo next to me on the bench behind.

"Mondo" because he reminds me of the young Jean-Paul Belmondo, but with beautiful brown skin the color of Cadbury's milk chocolate. Of course I couldn't sleep, just lay there and watched him for a couple of hours. Rocky was restless, too, kept fiddling around with his topknot. The stubby ponytail is finally long enough for him to entwine with a cloth band into a tight knot and he felt it every now and then to make sure his headphones band hadn't interfered with it. At one point he completely undid it, the first time in months I've seen him with his hair down, and then retied it. He had his music so loud I could occasionally hear it, and it was jazz. That lad is one surprise after another.

But he is not the Angel of the Rice Packets. That long-time mystery was solved on Monday night. Gazing at Mondo, I was awake much later than usual and so I saw a little old lady, probably Filipino, quietly walk up and pass by each bench looking at the occupants (I closed my eyes for the occasion), then leaving a bag on an outside bench and going on her way. I got up to retrieve the bag. It was a large packet of rice with something I haven't yet identified and a Burger King cup filled with a chilled green liquid which I hesitantly sampled. Delicious! I suppose it was some kind of tea, although it was much darker green than any green tea I've seen, and it was very sweet. But when I say it was a better nightcap than Mickey's, that's certain proof of how good it was.

Cainer wrote about this week: "You have nothing to worry about. Or rather, you have plenty to worry about but no need to take that worry seriously. Saturn plans to take good care of you. Venus too, is offering special assistance. These planets will ensure you acquire whatever you require. Where you need to be rescued, they will rescue you. Where you deserve to be rewarded, they will reward you."

Late Friday afternoon, I had stopped by the Garden hoping to score some of those pastries. A regular, in a jolly mood, bought me a couple of beers. There weren't as many leftover pastries as there had been the week before and the lady brought them over wrapped in plastic. Bryant, the rat, gave a packet of three of the huge chocolate chip cookies to a well-endowed young lady sitting at the bar and gave me a piece of banana bread. Happily, she tasted the cookies and thought they were over-baked. Bryant was about to throw them out but my buddy and I protested, so we got a cookie each. Then my buddy ordered a double Martini. It looked and smelled so good I wouldn't have minded if he'd ordered one for me, too, but was more than content with the beer. It did remind me how very long it had been since I'd had any gin, so a bizarre find on Sunday was especially amusing. It was a lei made up of some kind of net stuff and miniature bottles of Beefeater gin! Why on earth anyone would think of making a "lei" from British gin bottles escapes me, but I was certainly delighted with the find and finished off the stash on Monday evening, finding a cup with ice and a bit of Coke in it to form the foundation for my own, strange "double Martini", providing a warm glow which made the Mondo gazing even more delightful.

Just before leaving campus, I found an almost-full pack of Marboros. Then, getting off the bus at Ala Moana, a shopping cart was waiting right there and I found another as I was returning the first one. I didn't expect a Monday evening to be much good for quarter-hunting, but was pleased with those two since I'd had to cheat on Monday morning and join the nomadic "pass the cup" brigade to get my senior coffee and it was good to know I could buy my own cup for two days. I walked into the Food Court and there was a tray with a huge bowl of noodles in broth, somewhat over-seasoned for my taste, but a fine, filling dinner.

The constant, unsought flow of minor blessings topped with a night beside so extraordinarily handsome a young man certainly made me ponder, once again, how uncannily accurate Cainer often is.

163a

A reader yesterday referred to me in an email as a "mad genius". I lay no claim to the second term, but accept the first without question. On the bus from Ala Moana to campus on Wednesday morning, I was declining Latin verbs and realized to my horror that I had forgotten the sixth declension (declination?). Te amamus, we love you, but "they love you" has fled from my memory bank. This to the background music of the Prayer from Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel", which the internal jukebox has been stuck on for almost twenty-four hours. "Now I lay me down to sleep, [blank] angels at my feet". Fourteen angels? It fits the music, but I don't think that's right. It's two syllables, whatever.

That evoked the memory of my best friend, Kenneth Neville, and how we'd get the infectious giggles every time our Latin teacher said "he-she-it", and then I realized I don't remember that teacher's name. For shame! He was one of the best teachers. It takes a definite talent to make Latin an interesting subject for junior high school students, and he had it. With a few (horrendous) exceptions (art, nature study), I was most fortunate to have excellent teachers throughout my school years. But he, whose name has been forgotten, was one of the best.

I wonder if I could find a paperback edition of first year Latin somewhere? I need to refresh my memory of that noble language.

Helen R. suggested having dinner on Tuesday evening at Puck's Alley. I thought Magoo's preferable to Sushi No Ka Oi, but getting there early I was irked by the addition of a very noisy exhaust fan (as if the traffic at that busy intersection weren't enough noise for their little outside dining area) and then by some terrible music played too loudly over an inferior sound system. But I seem to have developed just the right image to provoke people into giving me beer, because a total stranger, a black man with a white wife and two delightful young children, asked me if I'd like some more beer. I said "sure", and he filled up my glass from their pitcher and left it on my table. He went out to make a phone call, so I took the pitcher and refilled his lady's glass. She only drank a bit of it, and when he came back, they prepared to leave and he gave me her glass as well. Cool.

Helen was very late, but no problem. When she did arrive, though, I said I thought Sushi No Ka Oi was probably the better option after all, so we had dinner in that place of the conveyor belt carrying one mystery after another. I must admit to a slight crush on the owner of that establishment and boldly patted him at one point, then zinged the next morning when I saw him and he invited me to stop by near closing time any evening. Now that would be something most amusing, knowing his ex-wife.

Feeling a little too oiled and much too tired to risk another night in close proximity to Mondo, I slept at the cloisters, but Mondo has been much on my mind. Too much.

164

I passed the black woman who always asks me if I have a "spare dollar". "Do I look like I have a spare dollar?" I asked. "Yes," she said. "It's an illusion, just an illusion," I replied, and we both laughed. But I'll bet she asks me again the next time she sees me.

Several times on Wednesday, I just felt so tired I didn't think I could walk another step. I kept putting one foot in front of the other and managed to get where I was going, but with a sharply curtailed range. I'm not sure why those periods of exhaustion hit, because I'd had a good night's sleep and plenty to eat for lunch, so much I didn't even want dinner. But because of the weariness, I was far more bold than usual about taking what I wanted, food or tobacco, and filled my cigarette box in less than ten minutes at Ala Moana. Only one man reacted, with a "tut tut" kind of cough. I felt like giving him the middle finger, but behaved myself. Then I took the bus to the hacienda instead of making the usual stroll through the Ward district.

A rather shaggy old nomad who usually sleeps on an outside bench had taken my regular bench, so I left the one behind him vacant and took the next in line. I woke up during the night and saw that Rocky had come in and taken the vacant one. In the morning he was curled up in classic foetal position, not easy on such narrow benches, and he looked very sweet, innocent and vulnerable. I think he probably is basically a sweet kid, but wouldn't bet on innocent and suspect he'd not prove very vulnerable if push came to shove either. He probably wouldn't be any too happy with that image he projects while curled up asleep. I was sorry Mondo wasn't with him, had been looking forward to seeing him again.

On Thursday, I once again got on a bus headed for the bench instead of walking, looked back at the people on it and there was Rocky. So rare to see him outside the hacienda. I nodded in recognition and he nodded back. When we got off the bus, he walked off in a different direction but arrived at the benches a little later and took the one behind me. That lad does have beautiful arms. He started off the night wearing his flowery shorts, a tank top and with bare feet. I woke up several times during the night and each time he had added more clothing, a long sleeve top and long white socks. And in the morning he was once again curled in a ball, and the band of his striped boxers was showing.

A black man who had never been there before, possibly an airport refugee, got into a quarrel with the Big Local Dude. I was asleep so missed the beginning of it, woke to hear an exchange with the BLD saying, "I am Hawaiian, this IS my land" and the black dude responding with "you haven't got any land." The BLD got very heated and was ranting about the United States (a little ironic since he and his lady have lived on a US Government bench for months), and for awhile it looked like they might actually come to blows, but then the black dude backed down and apologized. He was either drunk or stupid to go up against the BLD to begin with. That man is BIG.

I woke up on Friday in a thoroughly junk mood, the worst in several weeks. Maybe it was the total lack of a hangover, since I'd only had one beer on Thursday (well, one large beer, equivalent to three regular cans). Partly it was that pension check not arriving on Thursday and partly the fact that August is here and it isn't a month I've been looking forward to. More hot weather and, worst of all, the long break when the summer session ends at UH. But none of that really justified my morning state of mind, nor could anything else I could think of until awhile later, still thinking about it, I realized part of it is just that I love the night hours, laying there on the bench with Rocky beside me. I love being in his company. So the arrival of morning doesn't cause me any particular joy.

165

In his twenties, a man is stupid, especially if he is relatively "good-looking" and has no blatant physical impairments. In his fifties, he may still be quite stupid but, chances are, he has moved at least a little way down the road of comprehending what is and what is not important.

Just a thought after a second beautiful day in the secluded grove in Manoa reading Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain", a book which has been on my list of things to do for some time now, not having experienced it since my late twenties.

I told a friend on Friday that it would probably be better for me if I didn't get that $90 pension check each month. Most of the time, I have no problem living with no money, especially if I can find that 26-cents each morning for senior coffee. But in the last days of each month, I am tormented, waiting for that check to arrive. It's total rubbish, but I haven't been able to escape it.

I did better with it this month. A new backpack, slippers, toothbrush, mosquito repellent and book. Slippers were imperative, since several times I'd almost fallen at Ala Moana mall in the morning, walks hosed down, and no treads on the bottom of the slippers to provide traction. The defense against those idiotic insects also important because in the summer it's most uncomfortable to cover up as a defense at night, socks and long-sleeved shirt, something covering the head.

The book, a departure from my $1 method, cost $4.95. It is worth far more than that.

I stopped in Manoa Garden on Friday afternoon. Three UH football players were at the bar, one with amazing arms three times as round as mine. Sweethearts, all of them. And so, of course, is Bryant the Bartender. Then I went downtown to get that bizarre check, took it to Waikiki to cash, and went to Liquid Surf Den where Pure Heart was supposed to play. I don't think they did, there was no banner outside announcing it and the gig had been removed from their web site. In any case, I left in disgust a bit after 9:30, having paid three dollars for a Budweiser and then being ignored by the bartenders, too busy sitting down and yakking to attend to the customers.

Heaven knows where he finds them, but I wish I did, so I could hang out there. As I said before, Rocky must have been the kind of kid who took stray dogs home. His latest puppy is such a cutie, not in the same class as Mondo (few men are), but he sleeps in just his shorts, no socks, no shirt. On Friday evening he was a bleached blonde, but they both got haircuts on Saturday. The puppy with very, very short crewcut, Rocky with his sides shaved down to strange whiteness.

There are ten benches, five in each row, with the first two separated by a wider space from the other three. Rocky and his new buddy left the one behind me vacant on Friday, slept on the first two beyond the space, the buddy behind Rocky. On Saturday, I was just a little drunk and feeling quite bold, so I took the bench behind his buddy, feasted my eyes on his bare chest and relished the pleasure of sleeping so near two such admirable young bodies.

Okay, okay, so I'm a slut. I've never denied it.

165a

I hadn't come up with a name for Rocky's new protege until Sunday evening when he was standing in front of me, bare feet, wearing just his bright local style shorts, slim young brown body with a hint of blonde fuzz. "Death in Venice". Tadzio. But that changed, and he became the Sleeptalker.

I was sitting on an outside bench. Two other outside ones were occupied, but no one was inside yet. Rocky and the Sleeptalker came walking up the path, the Sleeptalker seeming in a somewhat hyper mood. He waved to me as they went up the steps to the inside. Then they seemed to be having some disagreement, talking quite loud but I couldn't make out much of what was said. After about ten or fifteen minutes they quieted down, then suddenly the Sleeptalker came out and asked if I had a cigarette. I gave him one. "Are you sleeping here tonight?" he asked, and I said yes. "You slept by me last night," he said, with a smile. So I did, and I did it again.

The bouts of extreme weariness continued all weekend. I spent the days in the secluded grove, reading "The Magic Mountain" and occasionally stretching out for brief naps. Each night I took the bus to the hacienda rather than walk, feeling just too tired to make it. Saturday evening another of those delicious burgers turned up, along with some thickly cut fries. I don't know why that person abandons such good food. On Sunday a tray had been left on a Food Court table with one of the biggest baked potatoes I've ever seen, less than half eaten, with some chili and a salad. Even though I hadn't eaten all day, it was still more than I could finish.

I got a fierce cramp in my left calf during the night and the leg was still a bit sore from it in the morning. And I was feeling so tired again, despite a good night's sleep, that I was very happy to reach Ala Moana and sit with that morning coffee.

The last day of Paxil.

166

Rocky is very talented at finding buddies, but doesn't seem to have much luck with hanging on to them and I was sorry to see him alone again on Monday evening. We slept on the same benches we had used when the Sleeptalker was between us, but a stranger came in very late and filled the vacant one. Then, quite unprecedented, I slept past six on Tuesday morning, waking up at the same time as Rocky. I sat at the bus stop and watched him walk away before getting on the bus for Ala Moana, too weary to explore the beergardens and wanting just to get to McD's for coffee.

Perhaps I have the "Yuppie flu" again. I can't remember the proper name for the condition, Somebody's Syndrome. I was diagnosed as having it in the early 80's, a little before it became as fashionable an ailment as consumption had been a hundred years earlier. It went on for over six months, always feeling very, very, very tired and some days barely getting out of bed. It's a very boring disorder but at least this time I don't have to fret over getting to work or paying rent, however much it deters my ability as an urban hunter/gatherer.

I found an abandoned skateboard on Monday, waited around for some time to see if its owner would turn up. No one did, so I took it and had a go at riding on the thing which I found totally scarey, much more than I would have expected. I did like the rather silly image of walking around with it but decided it was hardly worth the effort and gave it to Kory K.

Most of Monday was spent in the secluded grove with "The Magic Mountain". Much as I love and admire Hesse's books, I'd have to vote for this extraordinary Mann work if asked to name the greatest example of German literature in this century. I did get irked by the translation in one passage, though. Why on earth did the man leave pages of text in French? It's long past time to think everyone with any education knows that infernal language and absurd to translate a book from German to English, yet leaving chunks of French in. It would have made much more sense to simply remark that the conversation was being conducted in French and record it in English. Of course, the same grumble could be directed to Thomas Mann himself for writing those passages in French, but in 1924 it was reasonable to assume that anyone capable of reading his masterpiece would be able to at least get the gist of the conversation. I probably could have, too, but resisted.

But then I should long ago have worked on my German so I could read both Mann and Hesse without translation. Two years of Latin, two years of German, both almost buried in the memory banks. Not that it would have helped all that much with the conversation in French. I can at least console myself with comprehending the Latin phrases scattered through the book.

And I love the idea that eventually we shall come back to regarding the Earth as the center of the Universe, Ptolemy justified, the sun revolving around Us. As I said once in the Tales, in a passage which I think was excised in an overly delicate reaction to those days in Kaneohe, I explained to a young person the theory of the Solar System as it is currently understood, having no more faith in it than Ptolemy's grander scheme. Corrupting youth in "scientific" matters is not my style at all.

But thinking about what Cainer has been writing this week, I believe I understand the import, at least as it relates to this one Arian. It is improper, ungentlemanly, unseemly even, to react with lustful intent to the young men who are, mysteriously, in their own way "paying court" to me lately. I recall that as a teenager I much preferred sex with older men and women, it took any pressure off me, I could sense their pleasure with my young body and that was as much satisfaction as they hoped for. Sex with someone my own age was a torment, could I perform, could I please (no matter how much I desired the encounter)?

That evoked the memory of dinner parties with Cainer's mentor, Patric Walker, the only other "mass astrologer" whose efforts have so touched a chord. I was head over heels in love with Patric's friend, Simon Ward, sadly now departed via the 20th Century Plague. Patric assured me that, based on our birthdates, nothing of any lasting impact could come from my infatuation, but it was enough to have a few weeks with Simon, still one of the lovers whose memory I most cherish. And it was fine, indeed, to spend time with Walker, one of the most intelligent and charming men I've known. I'd like to meet Cainer. There is much about him which reminds me of Patric.

Memories, memories. On Saturday evening, NPR devoted an hour to the "upbeat" songs of Johnny Mercer. When I first went to New York City, my friend and later art dealer, Wayne Adams, was one of the managers of the Upstairs at the Downstairs, at that time a Mecca for pre-Saturday Night Live sophisticates. Mercer was often there, a warm and witty man whose only song I, at that time, truly loved was "Accentuate the Positive". It was deplorable that NPR didn't play the wonderful Crosby and Andrews Sisters recording of it. At the Upstairs I also came to know and love Mabel Mercer and Bobby Short. NPR's theatre music program did a special on Short not long ago, Mercer ... Mabel rather than Johnny ... would be an excellent subject for another one, as would the slower, more sentimental songs of Johnny.

And always in the back of my mind these days is the knowledge that Bob Dylan is coming here next month, is going to perform at UH's Andrews Amphitheatre. Although I feel as if I am lying on my deathbed lately, I want to stay alive for that.

166a

Although Dame Fortune is frequently very kind to me, she also loves laughing in my face.

Never mind the noble sentiments about lust.

166b

Hiccups. Gawd, I hate the hiccups. The last Pope Pius, whatever his number was, had them for months. Served him right for his wishy-washy stance against Nazism. But what did I do to deserve them? (Don't answer that question).

Ending Paxil is more profound an experience than taking it.

I've stepped into the deep end of the pool. And I can't swim.

It doesn't matter.

167

The closest thing in my experience to getting off Paxil was heroin withdrawal, complete with the hiccups that plagued me during much of the day on Wednesday. There's a thoroughly unpleasant feeling throughout the body, almost like food poisoning (which, of course, it's possible I got coincident with ending Paxil although I've been careful about what I eat since the warm weather set in). Alcohol does alleviate it a little but nothing else seems to help very much. If it is this intense after taking the stuff only six weeks, I hate to think what it must be like for longer-term users and I hope it doesn't continue for the could-be two weeks the body needs to fully get rid of the drug.

The Big Local Dude and his lady haven't been at the hacienda for several days, the Snorer has been missing for over a week (missing, but not missed). Rocky, though, has been there every night although we've had no further exchanges. On Wednesday night, I woke up and saw a newcomer sitting on an outside bench, later saw he had moved to the bench by Rocky but was still sitting. From the back he looked much older than he turned out to be when in the morning he walked over and asked me for a light. "You just have shorts?" he asked, a term for cigarette butts I've not heard before. I said yes, and went to hand him the lighter, but he let me light his "short", then sat down, asked me if I had a job, then told me he had gotten fired from his job last week. He seemed very unhappy about it and I wondered if he'd been sitting there all night brooding. He's only a teenager, looks like he could be one of Rocky's boys (and I wouldn't be much surprised if they show up together, since they were both still there when I left). He didn't say anything else, walked back to his bench and finally lay down, although he wouldn't have had long to stay there before the workers arrived. An interesting lad.

DJ is in town for a teaching workshop so I went down to the Ocean Terrace Bar to join her on Tuesday evening to hear Ledward Kaapana and Ikona. The music would have been far more enjoyable if it hadn't been so overamplified. Some of DJ's fellow workshop participants joined us and two of them were major hunks. If I'd had a Physics teacher like that, I wouldn't have dropped out after two weeks of it. One was blonde with a classic Roman nose and wonderful eyes, made more dashing by having a black-eye obtained playing basketball. He amiably accepted my flirting with him and did no bad job of flirting himself, a most enjoyable bar buddy. By the time we left, I was so smashed I don't remember what I did next, but at three in the morning I was sitting on a bus stop bench, still in Waikiki, wondering why no buses came. Then I looked at my watch and realized why. I walked down to a stop with several benches, two of which were occupied with sleeping nomads, and went to sleep. It's surprising the police left us alone, right there on Kuhio Avenue.

Rather than going to Ala Moana, I just went directly to campus, the first time in weeks I'd missed McD's senior coffee. I stopped up to see Kory K, but forgot to get my John Cruz teeshirt so had to pay him a second visit, and spent much of the rest of the day with "The Magic Mountain" before heading back to Waikiki and the Zoo. It was a nice surprise to find Lopaka Colon playing with John and helped, along with Johnny's seemingly upbeat mood, to make it one of the best JC gigs I've seen. Lots of the folks who used to make his Hot Lava gigs a regular Sunday night event were in the audience, some of whom I hadn't seen in a long time, and Matt Swalinkavich was there barechested and very tanned, looking fine. So was a Hawaiian fellow I think Yvette said was named Kenny, a man with a fine body indeed who was standing directly across from me on the other side of the stage and was wonderful to look at it. After the gig, I stopped up to chat with Wade and Lopaka, greeted John, and talked a few minutes with Matt.

Then to Ala Moana. I'd had very little to eat during the day and there was nothing immediately available in the Food Court, so I set out for Ward feeling I'd never make it on foot but wanting to pick up a Mickey's from the 7-Eleven (one could wonder why I didn't spend that two dollars on food, but veteran readers of the Tales will find it no surprise). Happily, a slice of Pepperoni pizza turned up, still warm in its box, and then some spaghetti with a pleasantly delicate sauce and chunks of tomatos which I enjoyed with the Mickey's. Even with the reinforcement of food, I didn't want to walk on to the hacienda, so waited for a bus.

This month's bus pass is horrendously ugly, but it certainly is a treasure in these days of weariness.

167a

There has been a noticeable increase in the number of nomads at Ala Moana of the shaggy, filthy style. Now one of them has turned up on campus. His taste in rags leans more to Hippie, but they are nearly as dirty as the worst urchins at Ala Moana. And more's the pity, he smokes. None of the other campus nomads do, so since Greg disappeared there has been no competition for "shorts". So far he is spending most of his time sitting outside Hamilton Library smoking his shorts. That's fine, since the Hamilton shorts-containers are the least promising on campus, for some reason, but I hope he doesn't start exploring too widely.

On Thursday, the food offerings on campus were numerous but I had zero appetite. And it's certain proof how screwed up my condition that I drank two Pepsi's instead of a Mickey's.

It's the end of the luxurious life for this month, time again to hope Dame Fortune leaves those senior coffee quarters in my path each day.

168

What a bizarre night. Like a caged animal, Rocky had swaggered in almost bristling with hostility although looking splendid in a new satin-like tanktop which perfectly enhanced his brown skin and beautiful arms. I nodded a greeting which he returned, and then he settled down two benches in front of me. Only one other person, a newcomer and an airport refugee I'm pretty sure, was on the inside benches, on one of the two facing each other. At some point it started raining and two people who had been outside moved in, one to a spot on the floor and the other on the bench in front of me. Around three, he woke me up with a horrendous coughing fit and I saw, even worse, he was blocking my view of Rocky. So I took a chance on damp feet from windblown rain and moved to a bench in the outer row.

I couldn't get back to sleep, smoked a "short" and gazed at Rocky's feet. Such small, graceful feet he has, so opposed to his treasured image as a tough guy, but then only those of us at the hacienda see them because they are so white, he must never take his shoes off elsewhere. Finally I fell asleep and dreamed I was sleeping on a bench at the hacienda. Suddenly there was a clunk beside my head, I opened an eye and saw two feet on the bench beside my head. If they had been Rocky's feet, I would have been delighted, but they were the Old Cougher's feet. I raised my head up to glare at him, was awake, and of course there were no feet on my bench. I lay back down, closed my eyes and was immediately asleep when something jumped on me, a large dog. That time I said "whaaa?" and sat up, to once again find myself awake and, of course, no dog. I wouldn't be surprised if that exclamation had been made out loud in my sleep, though. This went on and on, each dream sequence getting more and more bizarre, with the worst apparition a huge hamster with great oozing sores and maggots in his fur. That time I was thoroughly relieved when I woke and saw no such thing near me. It was totally uncanny, unlike anything I've experienced before.

After a day of feeling quite miserable physically although not in low spirits, the evening was a complete delight. DJ was already at the Regent when I got there, Aunty Genoa, Aunty Momi, Alan Akaka and Gary Aiko were playing, and DJ and I were soon joined by Helen R. The special beer of the night was an ale from a Big Island brewery I'd never heard of, not a beer I'd go out of my way to find but decent enough and since I hadn't eaten all day the brew's effect was even more enhanced. Helen ordered some chicken and I nibbled on a little of it, but still had no appetite at all. The musicians varied places throughout the evening, with Aunty Vi, Genoa's granddaughter Mandy, and her son "Atta" joining in at times, many dancers (including a lady so pregnant I wondered if there'd be a first at a Genoa gig and we'd witness birth). Genoa came over and gave me a hug which is one of the most special hugs to be had anywhere, and Aunty Cummings chose me and another old haole to flirt with while she danced (she is such a sweet lady). Those Thursday evenings at the Regent are always, always a fine place to be.

DJ's workshop associates had been at a farewell luau, so arrived late. The two sweethearts who had so delighted me on Tuesday evening were in fine form and the blonde insisted on sitting next to me which I don't think overly pleased the Veronica Lake young lady who had planned to keep us separated. I have to give those two young men the supreme compliment. They are in the legendary Captain John class when it comes to bar buddies and it's not only my loss, but that of all Oahu that they don't both live here. If the blonde had been serious about teaching me physics, botany and anatomy, I'd move to California in a flash (hold the offered football lessons, even if it does have a certain physical appeal).

DJ herself, of course, should never have moved to the mainland. She has far too much feeling for the local culture and people to be so far away from it. Alan Akaka did his delightful version of "No Hu-Hu" for her, after telling me to be quiet (I was yakking away with the blonde, didn't notice the Weekly Guest Team, always an invitation to ignore the proceedings, had left the stage).

Veronica Lake dragged the blonde away, but not before I got a couple of good hugs. DJ wanted to eat and the idea raised a vision of that yummy beef-and-cheddar sandwich at Duke's, so we started to walk in that direction with the deliciously fuzzy crew-cut physics teacher walking with me. A sweetheart, although he thought his girlfriend would not be too happy with any of the proposals I had for entertaining him. Never mind, got a good hug from him, too, when DJ and I parted with the rest of them. Duke's was impossibly crowded, no seats at either bar, no empty tables, but I got to say hello to Yvonne for the first time in ages. The next possibility was my favorite dish of all in Waikiki, the hot roast beef sandwich at Moose's, with a backup plan of proceeding on to the old Mai Tai Lounge if Moose's, too, was overcrowded. Happily, it wasn't, and especially happily, the kitchen hadn't closed yet, so I got my hot roast beef sandwich. Yummmmmmmmm. The lady bartender congratulated me, as the afternoon one always does, too, on my thoroughly cleaned plate at the end. Washed down with a pint of Guinness, that is a fine, fine meal. The male bartender asked me where you could buy my John Cruz tee shirt, because he loved the album. I said I didn't know because John had given me mine, they used to sell them at Hot Lava but it was closed. It wasn't a lie, Captain John did give it to me, but what the heck, if he thought I meant Cruz, no big deal. (The kind of thing, of course, that gets me in trouble sometimes).

Delightful drinking companions, great music, capped with a delicious meal adds up to a fine evening in Waikiki. I am a lucky man.

169

The original version of this Tale started with an email sent to a young man named Gregory I had met for the first time the evening before. After thinking about it for several days, I decided the letter basically sucked and therefore take the liberty of sending it into oblivion. One sentence from it can, however, remain:

Thank you very much indeed for sharing an evening of your life with me.

169a

As I told Gregory in a follow-up, I'm really out of practice at writing love letters. This despite what should have been the added inspiration of writing it with KM's pen while sitting in the grounds at the Palace. It's just as well, I'm too old and far too crazy to be seriously falling in love.

Friday was the culmination of an extraordinary week. Despite the nastiness of the Paxil withdrawal, the worst of which seems to have passed, there was a constant slipping into the Magic Theatre quality about the entire week and never more so than on Friday. I left Hamilton and as I was walking through a vending machine kiosk, a young man said "shit!". I looked at him and he laughed, said he had pushed the wrong button and got a Diet Pepsi instead of a regular. He asked if I'd like the mistake. The thought immediately came to mind of how much fun it would be to stop in the Garden (intended anyway, since it was Budweiser representatives day) and sit at the bar with the Diet Pepsi. So that's how it started.

Bryant was, of course, astounded by the act. A fellow I'd not seen before was sitting at the end of the bar, looked rather like Truman Capote in his late thirties, wearing sunglasses which he later said he never took off. I was chatting with Bryant and a young fellow on the other side of me, when the Capote-like man asked Bryant, "is he sitting there with that Pepsi because he can't afford a beer?" Both Bryant and I affirmed that was the case, so he bought me one, told me he'd been down-and-out before and Bryant had kept him from starving. The young fellow left, leaving just the two of us at the bar, so I moved a stool nearer and looked at the three thick books he had on the stool next to him. They all had schizophrenia as their subject. I looked at the table of contents, remarked how odd it was Laing wasn't mentioned anywhere, and it turned out (or at least he claimed so) that "Capote" had once known Ronnie Laing. So we talked a bit about the Philadelphia Project in London, where I had my only contact with formal psychoanalysis.

I was about halfway through my beer, the Bud reps were late. "Capote" dared me to a chugalug, a dare I've never been known to resist. Even though he was drinking a mixed drink, I easily beat him, or he allowed me to as an excuse to buy me another beer. We are talking 32 oz. jugs of Budweiser. Then the Bud reps arrived, and they soon had another jug sent over to me. Bryant came out with the leftover pastries and gave them all to me. A few of those were all I had to eat on Friday, which suggests what effects all that beer were already capable of. The Bud reps left, leaving a full jug of Bud on their table which Bryant pointed out to me, scolding me for being so unobservant, so I grabbed that, emptied about half of it into my flask and added the rest to the one I already had.

During all this, several regulars had stopped in for their drinks but were all sitting outside. Among the customers were several I had never seen before, including a young man very handsome and seemingly in quite bubbly spirits. When Bryant got ready to close, I took my still-full beer outside and noticed that handsome fellow sitting with several other people, talking in a very animated style. I moved to a nearer table so I could better hear what he was saying.

That was the cue to step out of reality and into the world of Thomas Mann. This was the real Tadzio, matured into Hans Castorp, come to life, and I was entering the Magic Mountain. I looked at him a few times but was mainly content to just sit and listen to the conversation. Then he got up, left his companions, and came over to my table. That's how I met Gregory.

After a little chat he mentioned he had to leave soon to go to a Bible discussion group and when I showed interest in that, he invited me to go along as his guest. One of the other participants picked us up, and on the way to the house in Aina Haina where the group was gathering, Greg asked me to do him a favor. Since it was his first time taking a guest to the meetings, he hoped I would join in and not just sit there. He may have regretted that request later because without his appeal, I probably would have sat there far more quietly, instead said much more than I should have, at least as I recall it. We picked up more beer on the way and there was a huge bottle of sake there. This was no conventional Bible discussion group.

The house had a large pool in a delightful courtyard with the mountains seeming so near it was as if they were on the other side of the fence. Once I took a look at it in the moonlight, I was eager to be out there instead of in the room discussing the Gospel of Luke, so when the discussion reached a lull, I took the excuse of a smoke break and went out to sit by the pool. Absolutely beautiful place and a splendid evening for it. Gregory came out in just shorts, went over to the diving board and jumped in, repeating the action quite a few times before standing with his back to me on the board, dropping his shorts and toweling off, then putting his clothes back on. Tadzio incarnate.

We had a chat together then before rejoining the group and it was at that point he suggested I had agreed to attend the meeting because I hoped for something further from him, more than I'd already had. No such hope had entered my thoughts. There may have been an unusual number of sexual encounters in my life recently and some truly delightful sessions of heavy flirting but entertaining the hope of sex with someone as striking as Gregory is far more ambitious than I'd allow myself.

It had been, of course, partly the desire to further enjoy his company which had led me to accept the invitation, but it was even more the uncanny similarity between what was happening and what I had been earlier in the afternoon reading that was the deciding factor.

I don't remember much detail from the discussion, either about the Bible or, alas, from my private talk with Gregory. It didn't reach the point of that remarkable black-out on Tuesday evening, but I had certainly had plenty to drink already and was grateful I didn't pick up a glass of sake until near the end of the evening and thus didn't feel the full effect of that until later when they had driven me back into town, to Ala Moana.

It occurred to me on Saturday, when thinking about it, that part of this recent unusually heavy drinking (even by my standards) may be to escape the bouts of self-criticism which normally follow such evenings. If I can't remember what I said, I can't write a "review". But I can still disapprove of having drunk so much, when the criticism is deserved, and it was on Friday since it was an evening, a gift, which I should have stayed sober enough to better remember.

It was too late on Friday to get a bus and by that time the effect of the sake had clicked in, so I just looked for the nearest dark spot and lay down to sleep. I hadn't been long asleep when a very polite security person woke me and said he was sorry, but I couldn't sleep there. I thanked him, said I'd thought it was enough "out of the way", and walked on down to the bench outside Radio Free where I spent the rest of the night. A cleaning man woke me at about six and told me I couldn't sleep there. Sorry, but I just had.

One other thing made Friday very special. I had been assuming the University would stay closed until after Labor Day. Instead, the fall session starts the week before, as Bryant told me, and he also gave me something to write in my datebook I've been looking forward to writing all summer: "lunch with Tomita-san".

169b

I was feeling pretty shattered on Saturday morning, didn't check beergardens but went directly to McD's for coffee and then over to the park for a shower. I washed my Cruz tee shirt and discovered then and again on Sunday morning that on such very warm days, it's very nice to walk around in a damp shirt. I took the bus downtown and sat in the Palace grounds writing. When the State Library opened, I went on-line briefly and then returned to Ala Moana.

When the weather is as warm as it was all weekend and the mall is very crowded, people are even less inclined to return their shopping carts and I soon had enough quarters for a Mickey's even without waiting around for them. I decided I'd save it for the last thing of the day. It was still more than an hour and a half before the slack key competition was to begin, I didn't spot anything to eat in the Food Court, so I crossed back over to the park. A group of Japanese people were sitting on mats with an assortment of drums. They would begin a rhythmic pattern and then repeat it over and over for ten or fifteen minutes, making for a wonderfully hypnotic effect, thoroughly delightful. There was little breeze, so even in the shade it was still very warm and I decided to have another shower before the competition. I'd just finished rinsing out the tee shirt again when a young Japanese fellow came in. Judging from his accent, I'm pretty sure he was a visitor, not local. He stripped, walked in and smiled at me, pointed and said "very big". A direct approach. Even before he'd gotten to the point of turning on the other shower, his not-very-big was standing tall. I don't think I've ever seen anyone get hard that quickly, even without touching it. It may not have been that big, but it surely was firm and well-packed as I was invited to discover. That is an invitation I certainly could not refuse any young Japanese man and did my best to make his shower a pleasure. I must have succeeded because he thanked me several times afterwards with a charming suggestion of the bow. Sweetheart.

There was a narrow escape. Just after I left the shower, I spotted Rocky heading toward them. I'm not ready to meet him in the shower, with or without a young Japanese playmate. That was the only time I saw him all weekend, since I hadn't made it to the hacienda on Friday and he didn't show up later on Saturday.

I went back to listen to the drummers until time for slack key. A large crowd had gathered at Centerstage but they were late getting underway, so I went over to the Food Court where bingo was in progress, got a couple of cards and sat through three games, coming very close to winning a large kite. The festival had started when I got back. Matt, Ledward and Shawn were seated at the judge's table, with Nancy beside Shawn to assist him with the paperwork. Some of the players were truly wonderful, others just technically adequate but uninspired. After about an hour, I was beginning to feel I'd had enough of purely instrumental, solo guitar playing, so returned to Bingo for awhile.

Someone had abandoned an almost untouched dinner from the new Orleans Express. Several of those turned up during the day, leading me to suspect the Japanese are not too fond of this "authentic Cajun" cuisine. There's nothing remotely authentic about it, but I thought it decent enough even if it was odd after all this time to eat such mainland-style rice. It almost could have been Uncle Ben's instant (and, who knows, maybe it was). The breaded fried shrimp were delicious, though, and the cornbread muffins quite good, enough so that I took those from such dinners I found later even though I didn't want any more Orleans food so soon.

Getting back to the competition, after not even coming close in some more bingo games, Ledward and Ikona were just starting their set to entertain the crowd while the judges conferred and reached their decision. Those fellows certainly do prefer very heavy amplification. I went up to the third level and enjoyed them more from that distance.

Even after the meal, I was still feeling very fragile and tried to avoid everyone I knew, staying hidden away on the sidelines. But Myra spotted me and stopped over to say hello and I ran right into Nancy and Shawn in the Food Court as they were leaving for home.

Some of the Sanrio characters came in. I don't know anything about that show but the kids, especially the toddlers, obviously are crazy about them, flocking around and trying to hug them, and their costumes are beautifully done, possibly even more effective than the ones Warner Bros. store have for their real-life impersonators.

I decided I'd head off for the hacienda early, walked over to 7-Eleven and bought the Mickey's, and then went through Ward adding to my tobacco supply. The angel looking after the birds was definitely on the job: there was a full box of rice crispies. I was pretty sure the birds would love them, so filled a large plastic bag with the stuff even though it takes up an awful lot of room in the backpack. At least it's not heavy, and I soon discovered on Sunday that my hunch was right, it's a grand success.

The Big Local Dude and his lady were back. The Old Cougher was asleep on the bench Rocky usually sleeps on, so I sat on an outside bench enjoying the Mickey's and the huge moon that had just risen above the treetops. At one point I heard a familiar Hawaiian song but couldn't tell who was singing or where it was coming from. It was so good I considered crossing the street to see what club it was at when I realized, after about a fourth or fifth repetition, that it was only in my head. The inner jukebox has a new mode. Unlike its usual style of foreground replay of known material, this is remote but distinctly heard and not any version of the material I can recognize. Thus far it has only played Hawaiian music this way. It's delightful but a little unnerving.

170

I can see the certificate. Cause of Death: nervous and physical exhaustion, overdosed on sleepless nights of watching young men sleep. Dame Fortune sent a new boy, a teenager who isn't quite cute (except insofar as all young men are) but has a fine body. Slender, elegant brown feet, good legs lightly covered in hair, faded local style shorts tight around the cute butt and with a provocatively stuffed crotch which later became even more so when it looked like the stuffing might break right through the fabric. A plain teeshirt of nondescript color, obviously not new but with a crease in the sleeve suggesting it had been ironed. A close, fuzzy crewcut.

Ala Moana was swarming all weekend, especially on Sunday, with young Japanese sailors, splendid in their white uniforms and cute caps. I was sitting on the planter ledge outside Hilo Hattie's enjoying the escaping air conditioning when I was suddenly surrounded by a flock of the boys in white, taking up seats all around me. I wished I knew how to say in Japanese, "I surrender! Take me prisoner!" Their beautiful tall-masted training ship is berthed so near the hacienda, we can hear announcements from it at night. There's no ship on earth I'd rather stowaway on.

On Sunday morning after coffee I crossed over to the park, had a shower and washed my UH polo shirt, then sat on a bench to let the shirt dry for awhile, before returning to the mall to hear Kanilau and watch the young dancers in their halau. The boys in that group have made remarkable progress since I last saw them, and I no longer felt sorry for the kumu hula but admiration for her prowess as a teacher. There is one boy who is so handsome and shows such promise of becoming an exceptional dancer that I'm sure he has a bright future ahead of him.

Then I went up to campus, spent some time on-line, and sat with the birds for awhile, discovering that rice crispies in boullion is not at all bad. I maintained a self-imposed ban on reading all weekend, still digesting the remarkable experience of having stepped into the book, so to speak, on Friday.

Back at Ala Moana, Dame Fortune seems to have decided I needed to lighten up. Among the treasures discovered during the evening were a bottle of Bud Light and an unprecedented, still-sealed pack of Marboros, Ultra Lite. Oh well, at least they weren't menthol and the beer was deliciously chilled. Other goodies included a free pass to Bishop Museum, where I've never been, a voucher for a free Egg McMuffin, and a copy of Smithsonian magazine. Thanks to those wretched taxi drivers who return shopping carts of people taking cabs, there were only enough carts to finance a 20 oz. bottle of Red Dog. So after enjoying some abandoned spring rolls from Patti's Chinese Kitchen and watching the sunset, I started walking to the 7-Eleven, sandwiched in between two groups of the Japanese sailors, all of whom seem to walk back to the ship from Ala Moana. One group went into 7-Eleven providing the opportunity for lots of delightful bowing as we tried to stay out of each other's way.

The BLD and his lady and the Old Cougher were already in residence. I sat on an outside bench enjoying the beer and the virgin, even if ultra lite, cigarettes and was cheerfully greeted by the Airport Refugee when he arrived. I had just settled down inside and was half dozing when the Sleeptalker arrived and plopped down beside me, and yet another Night in Paradise began.

170a

I was thinking while enjoying my morning coffee on Monday that it was dumb to be spending time in the library on campus as long as the Navy is in town, but the weather was quite cloudy and uncertain looking so I went to campus and spent a little time on-line. The weather cleared, was sunny and quite hot. I returned to Ala Moana and went over to the park to shower and wash some things, knowing they'd dry very quickly in the warm sunshine.

Last week's encounter with those delightful mainland teachers had gotten me in a sentimental mood about the disappeared Captain John so I had retrieved a beautiful white shirt he had given me right off his back. It's luxurious cotton, very fully cut, with long sleeves. White isn't a very practical color for a nomad so the shirt had long been in storage. It turned out to make a wonderful summer sleeping shirt, so it was first on the stack of things to be washed. I was busy scrubbing away on it when two of the young Japanese sailors walked in. They were just in shorts, but were carrying small backpacks and their white caps. They both came into the shower, sharing the other nozzle and making it a very lively affair with lots of leaping about and exclaiming over the coldness of the water. Dame Fortune certainly had my number in her book for Monday midday. The most delightful laundry session I've ever had.

To make it even more delightful, one of the lads left behind a souvenir. His underwear! Perhaps he had bought new ones at Ala Moana, but for whatever reason, he left them on the changing bench. Soft white cotton briefs with no label at all. Japanese Navy issue? Into the backpack they went.

The young sailors who were not hanging out in the mall or in the shower with me were busy on the ship, because I hadn't been sitting long with my drying clothes when that beautiful vessel came into view, evidently out for an afternoon cruise along Ala Moana and Waikiki. I hope I get a chance to see it in full sail and I wish even more I'd get a chance to go for a ride on it. One lasting about a year would do just fine.

171

The city never sleeps. I think that was written about Manhattan but it's probably true of any city and certainly is of Honolulu, at least from Ward to Kapiolani Park. As I was walking up the path to the benches on Monday evening, the Kid came rushing toward me. The Kid is the young fellow who had told me he'd been fired from his job, the one who sat awake and brooding all night. I didn't understand all of what he said, but did get the question "will you keep this for me until I get back?", asked while handing me a pack of cigarettes and some papers. I agreed to do so and he rushed off. The explanation, heard more fully when he returned was that his shampoo bottle had leaked all over his backpack and contents and he had headed off to give the backpack a rinse. Why a lad with such short hair, living out of a backpack, would think it worth his time carrying around a large bottle of shampoo, I don't know.

He and the Big Local Dude know each other, so a conversation ensued, starting with talk about jobs and where to get free meals. Both of them regard IHS with contempt. Then they wandered on to fishing stories, at which point I settled back on my bench with the intention of sleeping despite the wonderful vision of the Kid sitting there in just his shorts. He and the Sleeptalker are incredibly similar in appearance; if the Sleeptalker didn't have much hairier legs, I'd have a difficult time telling them apart. One thing that particularly struck me about the Kid is that when he talks to me, he sounds like a California high school student, but talking with the BLD he adopts a heavy local accent much sprinkled with pidgen. I couldn't understand much of what either the Kid or the BLD were saying and, with the help of the earplugs, fell asleep briefly.

Unfortunately their conversation seems to have drifted on to talk about fights they had witnessed (or participated in, perhaps) which required ever increasingly louder conversation, penetrating the earplugs and waking me up. I moved to an outside bench and was able to return to sleep. But again it happened. I looked up and they had moved outside, too (probably at the request of the BLD's lady). Since the BLD will talk as long as anyone will listen to him and I knew the Kid was quite capable of sitting up all night, I went on my way muttering and thus had occasion to reflect on the thought that the city never sleeps.

By the time my clothes had dried on Monday afternoon, I was feeling rather hot and sweaty so went back in for a cold rinse-off in the shower and was joined by a haole fellow, bronzed skin, broad shoulders and back, quite a vision of magazine-model-like manhood. Stunning, but not as delightful as the young sailors had been earlier.

As I was sitting at a picnic table, waiting for my hair to dry, a zebra dove must have suffered a stroke or something. It was standing in a small group of them quite near me, munching on rice crispies I had given them, when it suddenly fell on its side, flapped one wing trying to right itself, but gave up, its head falling back on the ground. I went over to have a closer look, but that just agitated it and it still couldn't get up, so I thought the best thing to do was leave it alone, and it died after a few minutes.

Death in the abstract, even contemplation of my own death specifically, just doesn't have the impact of being an actual witness to it. As with the rooster I had seen die a few weeks before, the dove's death moved me more than seems reasonable, in a way. "Lowly" birds, the zebra doves almost as plentiful as insects, creatures whose deaths matter to no one but the bird itself. And me.

Over at the mall, someone had left a tray with two large bowls of ramen on it, both three-quarters full, so I grabbed the tray and settled down to lunch, sampling each first to see which I liked most. The preferred one had large chunks of chicken in it and was by far the best one of those bowls I've tasted yet, was finished to the last drop. I've no idea what was in it to create such a result, but I was almost continually thirsty for the rest of the day, even drank quantities of water and was pushed to the extreme of filling my flask with water before heading off to the hacienda. That last re-fill of the flask, however, had to give way when half a bottle of Olde English malt liquor lay waiting in my path. Perhaps if it had been a full bottle, I might have stayed asleep during the BLD-Kid marathon gabfest and would have missed a night of exploring all the side streets of Kakaako I'd never been down, sitting on a bench by the beach and looking at the stars, napping for about an hour and then, since I hadn't found a quarter for my morning coffee, waiting around until a more affluent nomad had finished and passed the cup my way for a re-fill.

172

I could not have known, certainly not consciously, that the self-enforced three day abstinence from "The Magic Mountain" would result in the death of a dove deepening the tone of inner life in anticipation of experiencing the death of Joachim in the book. The Three Fates are working overtime weaving these coincidences into my life.

So much I don't know, or knew and have forgotten. Why three Fates to spin the thread? Past, present and future?

I did know, and very consciously, that resuming the book would kindle an intense desire to see Gregory. Indeed, to meet him, since I did not in a real sense meet him on Friday but entered into a fantastic interweaving of reality and literature which left me with a greatly enhanced understanding of Hans Castorp but with so little knowledge of the real Gregory that I cannot even be certain I will recognize him, that my mind will surrender the composite likeness and take note of the real one.

If he exists. Yes, returning to the literary reality even lends a certain credence to the notion that I dreamed the whole incredible evening. I know, or think I know, that is not the case, but a part of me wishes to be reassured, to be told, yes, it really happened.

What a piece of work is man ...

I did encounter Timothy for the first time in over a week, arriving at the Hamilton steps just as he was starting down them. Such moments of perfect timing are delightful. In the evening, I saw him again, at Ala Moana, sitting on a planter ledge and being very attentive to an attractive young lady who was with him. He gave me one of his wonderful smiles. I'm glad he has such a fine looking lady friend, he deserves it.

He will, however, soon have to surrender his Most Promising Newcomer title. Groups of incoming fall students are being given tours of campus now, promise of the next batch of Newcomers. However promising the full new class may be, it's highly unlikely anyone will provide serious challenge to awarding Timothy with Freshman of the Year.

And I saw "Capote" from the Friday session on his way to the Garden. I had stopped in earlier to ask Bryant about him. I'd had the impression he was a visiting professor or something like that, but he's a graduate student, majoring in psychology. He asked if I was buying today and I said that if I were, I'd already be in there.

And indeed I would have been. It was very hot with little breeze, an ideal afternoon to sit in an airconditioned bar drinking cold beer. But until Tomita-san sets the new schedule, I'm limiting myself to Friday afternoon visits to the Garden (with or without money). At one point during the afternoon I thought I just didn't know how I was going to get through the next fifteen days, survive and keep from going utterly crazy until that long-anticipated lunch.

173

"I wonder if I'm going crazy?"

"I'm afraid not," said Egbert.

I suppose that handsome Dutchman would make the same reply today, but I am not sure I'd be quite so quick to believe him.

The Tales become almost an extended Catalog Aria from "Don Giovanni", I know, I've noticed. But the Tales reflect my life and if, at this absurdly advanced point in it (chronologically speaking), I've become a Don Juan, so be it.

It seems almost a rule, in this world of No Rules, that if I write something in the Tales expressing a "rule", I immediately go out and break it. If I said "I will not jump off a building", it wouldn't surprise me if I went out the next day and did just that. So I won't say it, because I want to have lunch with Tomita-san.

I did mutter something about only going to Manoa Garden on Fridays, so I went on Wednesday. The Bearded Cherub. That's what I told him I would call him, although it is more a case of his not having shaven for a couple of days than an earnest beard, and judging from the story of his life, cherubic is not entirely appropriate, either. A young man, of twenty-two years, already a serious contender for the title of Junior of the Year in the upcoming academic season. Adopted at birth, flown from San Diego to Kauai at the age of three DAYS. I spent a lot of time listening to him because I had the feeling he wanted to talk to someone and because I loved his company even if I felt no particular lust for his body. Why the latter is so, I am not sure, but it has something to do with being perilously on the edge of being in love, a condition I do NOT wish to be in and which had helped make Wednesday a total mess. I was grateful to the Cherub for dragging me out of the miasma I had fallen into, so much so I was absurdly late getting to dinner with friends simply because the Cherub's need (or wish) for someone to talk to and my own gratitude for being handed an escape from my thoughts transcended time, made it irrelevant.

Apt, and yet again, parallel to "The Magic Mountain" and the ponderings on the subject of time which follow the death of Joachim.

I got very drunk on Wednesday, I can't deny it, but I didn't drift from reality in the same way I had on that fateful preceding Friday.

The Angel in charge of clothing finally filled the order I placed several weeks ago. The Duke Kahanamoku surfer shorts I found aren't quite the flowery pattern I had envisioned but they're very local and they fit perfectly. (I was a little surprised to find myself back with a 34 inch waist, and even then a quite loose fit.) To go with the new shorts, the Angel delivered a light gray Calvin Klein tee shirt, stylishly without any trace of logo, just plain gray with only the little neck label to reveal its high class origin.

I went to shower at Ala Moana and washed the new tee shirt. Then I sat at a picnic table to let it dry a bit, while enjoying a flask of Budweiser I had stashed away at the Garden on Wednesday. I went back into the shower building to put the Japanese sailor's underwear on under the black nylon shorts I was wearing before the new pair turned up. I was standing there in just the tee shirt when a Filipino gentleman came in, probably in his fifties, and just stood there admiring me. So I gave him a flash of the vitals as I was putting on the Japanese briefs and he smiled broadly and took off his clothes. Well, time to return the favor, so I said "this is just for you" and took off the tee shirt and then the briefs. He said "yes, yes" and grinned more widely. Someone else walked in, so I dressed again while the Filipino gentleman just stood there naked and watched. So I teased him and asked "you want more?" He said, "yes, yes", so I slowly stripped again for him, getting slightly aroused by the charade, and he hesitantly, gently touched me, held it for a moment. Then I put my briefs, shorts and tee shirt back on, patted him on the shoulder and said "that was fun", and left. It was fun, I enjoyed it a lot.

After thinking about it for a long time and feeling fairly sure my body was free of all those psychoactive drugs, I parked my backpack at Kory K's office and went out to the place which buys plasma. No joy, they declared my veins too small for them. Pity about that, I could have used that simple a method of acquiring a $40/week income. Well, I have to find some way to get it, preferably a menial kitchen job, something that requires no thinking, no particular clothing, something that gives me that small income and yet doesn't take so much of my time that I can't enjoy hours at Manoa Garden.

Okay, it's a major shift in thinking. That's part of what made Wednesday such an emotional rollercoaster, realizing that I had acquired, without meaning to, a goal. I love Manoa Garden, I want to be able to go there at least three or four times a week, so I need an income.

"I wonder if I'm going crazy."

174

Something's happening here and you don't know what it is, do you Mister Panther?

Quite so. I'm keenly aware that things are happening, that shifts are taking place, that there have been an extraordinary number of happenings which have surprised and sometimes perplexed me but, indeed, I don't know just what it is.

Externally, it is high summer and we're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave. That seems to have turned up the erotic burner on many people's stoves, and accounts for some of the unusual activity. Externally, I have new clothes, different than I've ever worn before, and that made more of a change in some people's attitude than I could possibly have guessed. It has changed some aspects of internal life as well, again more than I would have guessed. That much I've been able to figure out, if not understand completely.

I was talking to Kory on Thursday about my passion for Manoa Garden and mentioned that it really wasn't necessary to have money to go there, it's quite possible to just sit outside in the courtyard area, with or without anything to drink, and thus achieve at least part of my goal. So I tried that on Thursday afternoon. As it happened, I did have enough money for a bottle of Mickey's so drank about half of it in the secluded grove, then went to Manoa Garden with the rest of it in a soda cup and sat there watching and listening. None of my favorite lads were in the house but several I'd like to add to the list were there and it was fun watching them.

Readers might get the wrong impression, as did young Gregory, that I'm on the prowl, looking for sex. Not so. If I feel the need or desire to actually have sex, I just go to the Playroom, never any problem getting it there, and wasn't again earlier on Thursday afternoon. No big deal, you give someone else what they want and get relieved yourself. How I'd cope with the long unexperienced intimacy of actually getting into bed with someone, I'm not sure, but it wouldn't surprise me if I soon find out.

Rocky and Mondo, together again! I was already asleep when they arrived, but the Angel in charge of making sure I don't miss special moments woke me around 3:30 and I saw that Rocky was on the bench behind me. And I saw some shorts I hadn't seen for awhile behind him, sat up and was delighted to see it was Mondo. I lay back and grumbled silently a little at Rocky for the arrangement but then he made up for it with a first. Later I was thinking it rather strange I haven't seen it happen before, sleeping next to all these young men, but perhaps I've just missed it, or maybe there has to be a certain amount of security for the body to indulge in that blessing/curse of a young man's dreams. Whatever, I was just gazing at Rocky waiting for sleep to return when the front of his shorts took on that familiar tentpole profile. So much for thoughts of returning to sleep. Then after a few minutes, he made a slight moaning sound, the pole jerked several times and a wet stain appeared on his shorts. Cool. He sighed in his sleep and rolled over on his stomach, and I went back to sleep delighted with the treat, completely forgiving him for not letting Mondo sleep on that bench instead.

The Filipino gentleman who seems quite smitten with me was at Ala Moana again on Friday morning. Judging by his clothes and the amount of gold he wears, he must be fairly well off. Hmmmm, maybe being a kept boy is a more attractive alternative to being a dishwasher? It would certainly be a deliciously absurd twist to things. In any case, even if I don't in the least understand why he has fixed on me when the place is crawling with beautiful young things, I understand exactly how he feels and so I played the scenario as if I were in his place and Mondo was in mine, acting and doing what I'd love to see Mondo do, even if it's just slowly undressing in front of me. Fortunately the cleaning crew arrived, so my admirer only got another brief encounter, the way to keep the fires burning.

Earlier I had gone in to shower and wash my Japanese briefs and the new tee shirt and was delighted to see one of my favorite nomads in there. I've long wanted our showers to coincide. I'm not sure what his ethnic background is, probably a mixture of several, but he has a fine, deeply tanned body and a handsome, rugged face, the kind of man I tend to be quite shy with and do my best to conceal any physical interest. I like him even more after the shower. Although he has quite a small penis, he seems totally relaxed about it.

It seems to be a general rule with straight men, stuck naked in a two-man shower room with a stranger, that if they are smaller than you, they try to conceal it and if larger, they flaunt it. Very primitive, I know, but it seems to be the way. The muscular fellow on Thursday had started out by making such an effort to conceal it I began to wonder if I'd ever actually get a glimpse, but I think washing clothes helps to relax the scene, they perhaps are less worried about possible ulterior motives. He did finally give up the effort and I saw that we were about the same size, so don't know just why he was so shy in the beginning. It is possible to learn a lot about a man from standing naked in the shower with him, but there are always mysteries.

My companion on Friday, though, was so self-assured and comfortable, it was delightful. Perhaps it helps that we've been seeing each other every day for months, although certainly in my case, that wouldn't work if it happened to be Rocky I'd stumbled into in the shower. I know I'd be nervous as hell, even though that makes no sense at all. I wouldn't be nervous with Mondo, I'd love it.

Ala Moana, both the park and the mall, have been especially fun this week and I had to ask myself why I place so much emphasis on the University campus when Ala Moana, in many ways, is a more ideal oasis. Tobacco is abundant, food plentiful, it's awash in young Japanese men, and it even offers the opportunity to spend time with naked men of all varieties. Not to mention earn quarters.

Something's happening here, and you don't know what it is. But so far, it looks like it's going to be fun finding out.

175

"You really like those shorts," observed Kory K. Very true, although "like" is too mild a term, I love them. Not since I gave up shoes and socks a year ago and started to wear slippers all the time has anything made as much difference. I love the way they ride low on the hips, an obligatory inch of underwear showing above the waistband, I love the way the soft fabric brushes the knees as you walk. What I want now from the Supply Angel is a pair of those very, very lightweight sweatpants. Then I could wear those at night and store the jeans until winter.

Speaking of walking, I realized to my amused horror on the weekend that I was imitating Rocky's strutting swagger and told myself that just would not do and forced a return to KM's laidback shuffle.

Another find that makes more difference than I would have guessed is a bead bracelet. I haven't worn a bracelet since I was in my twenties. I had no idea what the beads are made of, so stopped in a shop at Ala Moana which sells such things and discovered it is made from coconut. I like the feel of it sliding down to my hand and back up again when lifting a cigarette to the mouth. But my other long-time piece of "jewelry" vanished on Monday evening. I've worn a plain jade ring for many years, inspired originally by the I Ching's oracle, "he wears rings of jade". So I know they have a short lifespan, sometimes cracking within weeks. But this one had been around for an unprecedented three years or so and I was astonished when I noticed it was gone. It was too tight to have slipped off, so I had to assume it had broken without my noticing (another first). I retraced my steps and found the two pieces of it, victim to the shopping cart profession. Slamming that cart into the queue must have been the last straw for the poor ring. Now I have a "ring" of white skin on that finger.

Happy coincidence category: after five days without one, I'd had a strong desire for a bottle of Mickey's on Monday evening, so worked the shopping carts until I had the money. Then I waited around for one more to finance Tuesday morning's senior coffee, but got fed up with it after half an hour and went on my way. Next morning, sitting at a bus stop on Kapiolani, I counted my remaining coins and saw I was six cents short. I walked on toward the mall and a young man passed on the other side of the street. I thought I should cross over and say "brother, can you spare a dime?" but figured he was too young to understand the classic reference. Five steps later and there was a dime laying on the sidewalk.

"Coincidences" are one of the delights of my life. Last week, I was standing outside Kory K's office on the top floor of Holmes Hall, waiting for him to return, and I saw Timothy walk past down below, immediately cueing up "Someone to Watch Over Me" on the internal jukebox. Later I was standing there again, telling Kory about it, and Timothy walked by again. Sweet.

Now I lay me down to sleep, one brown angel at my feet ...

On Sunday evening, I'd gotten to the benches later than usual because of the Bankoh Slack Key Festival, had just settled down when Rocky came in. At first it looked like he was going to take the bench behind me, but instead he moved over two, leaving the Old Cougher in between us. I saw why he had shifted a minute or so later when Mondo and the Sleeptalker walked in together. Mondo took the bench at my feet, the Sleeptalker the one behind me. Surrounded by angels.

The Sleeptalker's hair has grown out a bit and he looks much cuter than when I last saw him. He has such an endearing way of going to sleep, really almost rocks himself into it with a kind of jiggling motion of his lower body which goes on for about five minutes. He was wearing his bright surfer shorts and a tee shirt which kept sliding up to reveal his flat, brown belly. Mondo was wearing camouflage pants and a dark tee shirt and looked wonderful. He falls asleep almost the moment he puts his head down.

It had been very warm on Friday evening so I slept on an outside bench where the temperature seems about ten degrees cooler than inside. Rocky and Mondo arrived after I'd gone to sleep. Bryant had given me half a dozen macadamia nut muffins when the Garden closed that afternoon, I'd eaten a couple of them and gave one to the Duchess and one to the Queen Mum, two older ladies who are regulars in the Ala Moana nomad gang, and in the morning as I was leaving, left one neatly wrapped on Mondo's bench. Valentine in August.

I had found a bottle of gin, half-full, and rationed it out to myself over the weekend. The best mixer of all turned up Sunday afternoon at Ala Moana, a lemonade complete with ice and lemon slices, but on Friday afternoon I made do with Coke, added a double-or-so slug of gin and went to the Garden, got a "bucket ice" from Bryant to pour it over. None of the youngsters showed up for the last Friday of the summer session, but there were two Asian gentleman on one side of me getting slightly sloshed on dry martinis and a delightful older fellow on the other side, one of the campus vendors whom I'd not met before. He kept teasing Bryant outrageously and I protested when Bryant started to say "you two ...". Wait a minute, I'm just an innocent bystander. "That'll be the day," said Bryant.

And just before closing, he said "you really enjoy collecting people, don't you?".

I've always been a collector, from the earliest years, even though I've sometimes deliberately tried to resist doing it. Now that I'm in a position where collecting objects of any kind is severely limited, he may be right, I'm collecting people, and an ever-growing, very interesting collection it is, too, much more interesting than stamps.

And the collecting by no means stops with bar buddies these days. I state it merely as a matter of fact, neither boasting nor judging, but it is a fact that I've had sex with more people this month than I've had in the past twenty years combined. To my shame and regret, I even turned down a young Filipino fellow on Monday afternoon because I was still recovering from a delightful, energetic interlude with a Korean lad. I explained my reason for declining his offer and expressed the hope that we'd meet again, since it would be a pleasure. He just said, "okay". I very much dislike rejecting anyone who is candid and direct about it and that's the first time in many, many years I've done it.

Wondering why this dramatic shift has taken place, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I've walked around for ten years feeling like an old man that no one would possibly want to have sex with, figuring I'd have to pay for it if I ever ended up enjoying a young man's body again. The often anonymous encounters in the Playroom did little to change that feeling, but after several approaches by young men who obviously knew what they were after, my thoughts naturally underwent a major change and I think that subconsciously changes the whole attitude, the manner in which I look at and approach young strangers. There is also the factor of having had so complete a battery of physical tests at the beginning of that drug program, letting me know I run no risk of passing on any unpleasant diseases.

The shorts, the new "prestige" I seem to have acquired in the nomad social circles (partly because the Big Local Dude and his lady were at the Bankoh Slack Key Festival and saw Nancy and Shawn come over to say hello to me), the increasing ease with which I communicate with nomads who are people I'd never have had contact with before, the growth in self-confidence as a result of intimate encounters ... it all combines to blur the boundaries between Survivor, Tourist and Underworld Dude. It might be an exaggeration to speak of a "merger", but certainly the divisions are no longer as distinct as they were when this trip began.

And the Pilgrim? He is happy. He knows there are many paths to the Kingdom.

176

Feeling somewhat disgusted by activity on Usenet, I left campus early on Tuesday and returned to Ala Moana. While waiting for the bus, Louis from Rio introduced himself, a mathematician taking a year's sabbatical because his "head is too full of numbers". He said he'd seen me on campus for months and wondered what I was doing there, whether an instructor or a research fellow. I think it's a question many people on campus have and is most often the opening line of conversations with strangers at Manoa Garden. Louis was amazed to hear there were people keeping daily records of their life on the Internet and thought it a most "courageous" thing to do.

Courageous or foolhardy? I'm not sure myself. Certainly I started doing it because of pioneers like Ophelia and Jay T whose work I so much enjoyed reading, and it seemed an interesting notion to document this strange new lifestyle for my own benefit introspectively and retrospectively as much as to entertain other people.

Three hours at the mall hunting down and waiting for shopping carts only to end up with enough money for a 20oz. bottle of beer and a quarter for the next day's senior coffee. It would have been a bloody bore were it not for the Ala Moana Nomads who provided encouragement, cheered over each new quarter, and interjected interludes of amusing conversation and diversion.

Some time ago I wrote about a couple I sat near in McDonald's, her loudly berating him for stinking of sweat and not buying her a hamburger. Although the gender is wrong in one case, I think of them now as Mutt and Jeff, with her the mutt and often a very loud and quarrelsome one. They are both slightly crazy, I think. He is full of grand schemes to get rich, complains bitterly how she spends all the money he makes selling newspapers in the street each morning, but then gets frantic when she wanders off and he can't immediately find her. Both she and I have told him, just sit outside McD's, she'll eventually go back there, but he won't listen and seems to spend more time each day wandering the mall looking for her than I do looking for shopping carts. She mischievously takes advantage of it, scurrying off the moment he goes into McD's to get her something. A very, very strange pair and some totally weird conversations, all three of us or with them individually, since I've become something of a sounding board for one to use against the other when two of us are alone.

Jeff had a bag full of beer, he said, and he was trying to sell it. I didn't even ask what kind or how much, figuring it was far safer to stick to my original plan, find four shopping carts and get a 20oz. bottle of Red Dog. But he was spreading the word around that he had beer for sale and at one point I was sitting outside Foodland when the Queen Mum came up and enthusiastically told me a man had beer for sale outside McD's. The Queen Mum has no teeth so it's very difficult to understand a word she says. If I hadn't known about Jeff and his beer-selling, I doubt I'd have made any sense of the Queen Mum's "good news". It was the longest conversation I've ever had with her, though, and she's a sweet old lady, one of the folks who look forward to my fabulous pension check each month, so I was very pleased by the exchange even if the news wasn't new.

The Duchess was sitting on a bench outside Foodland and cheered me on each time I rolled up another cart. She looks a bit like the Duchess in Disney's Alice in Wonderland. Whenever I find a morning newspaper, I pass it on to her and she always accepts it as if I've handed her a sack of gold. Another very sweet lady.

In between waits for carts, I scored an excellent dinner from Orleans Express. I've no idea how sweet-and-sour chicken relates to "authentic Cajun cuisine", but it was very good, much better than Patti's Chinese Kitchen version, and it had some yummy mashed potatos and gravy with it. Praise be to the Japanese man who left it sitting on a table. There was even chocolate pudding from Shirokiya for dessert.

After getting the beer money, I sat around waiting for one more cart to ensure senior coffee the next morning. Silly man. One of the most difficult things about being a follower of Shinran Shonin is abiding by his edict to live each day as if it is your last. So I diddled around for half an hour to get that quarter and on the walk to Ala Moana the next morning, found a quarter and two pennies. Oh ye of little faith.

Arriving at the hacienda, I sat on an outside bench to enjoy the beer and the stars and the cool evening breeze and to leave the Big Local Dude and his lady to enjoy their dinner in relative privacy. The Sleeptalker came bouncing up the path, grinned broadly, sat on a bench across from me, took off his shirt and put his hand down the front of his shorts to make an adjustment. He really is a very cute kid, faun-like, could have been a model for Classicist paintings of Greek idyllic scenes. I asked him what he did during the day and he said he was looking for work but had to go home the next day and get shoes and some long pants because he was having no luck wearing shorts and slippers. "Where's home?" "Waianae."

I told him about his talking in his sleep which both greatly amused him and intrigued him. He wanted to know what he said, so I repeated what I could remember and he sat there grinning hugely over it all for about five minutes, then got up without a word and bounced off around the corner of the building. He didn't go down the path to the street, so I assumed he was just going for a leak, but then he didn't return and after about fifteen minutes, I went to an inside bench and settled down for the night. He didn't return until after I was dozing and took the third bench in our group, leaving one vacant between us. Rocky came in noisily just before midnight, drunker than I've ever seen him. He and the Sleeptalker exchanged a few harsh words, so I guess Rocky's irked another of his lads, and then Rocky went to sleep on the other side of the Old Cougher. These boys, these boys ...

176a

There's one nomad I've developed an ever increasing crush for. He's like a strange mixture of Mike Ka'awa and Bla Pahinui, a highly unlikely combination and an even more unlikely object of desire, but there's something about him that deeply intrigues me and I wish I'd at least encounter him in the shower sometime. He was one of the first of the Ala Moana Nomads to speak to me and always says "good morning" when we meet for the first time each day, nods when we pass each other again later, and we do encounter each other often since he's making the ashtray rounds as often as I do. There's another ashtray-shopper who is a frequent competitor, too, and gave me a good laugh on Wednesday when I was picking out some nice lengthy "shorts" and suddenly a hand reached in and grabbed some, too. He's a funny little guy with black curly hair, looks like an organ grinder.

I had spent much of the day Wednesday working on some prefaces to earlier groups of Tales, a method of annotation which seems to be working well. None of them are intended for web publication so they have been simmering on the backburner, undergoing revision and expansion. One of them is especially difficult, so I borrowed a couple of dollars, went down the hill for a Mickey's, and sat in the secluded grove to ponder it some more. Trouble was, the beer put me in such a good mood I didn't feel like working on anything serious, so I enjoyed the rest of the afternoon mostly by sitting on benches and watching all the new students stroll by. There have been quite a few orientation sessions during this week before the fall semester begins, none more interesting than the group of "international students" I encountered leaving one of those sessions. The new academic year looks very promising indeed.

Then I joined Helen R for dinner at Sushi No Ka Oi. There aren't many of those little things I like all that much but another bottle of Mickey's and Helen's always amusing conversation (and some sound advice) made for a delightful time. I did learn one thing about those little dishes on the conveyor belt: I shall NEVER have one of the salmon egg things again. Bleugh.

None of the younger lads showed up at the hacienda, but Rocky did arrive quite late. A newcomer had taken the Old Cougher's usual bench which seemed to piss him off and he slept on an outside bench. Otherwise it was the BLD and his lady, the Airport Refugee and me, and a nice quiet night.

Now we reach the three-day offline Admission Day weekend, the last of these extended library closings of the year. I had been dreading it, but life off-line has become increasingly more fun than life on-line so it's no longer of any great consequence to me.

And there's a whole New Year to look forward to, starting on Monday.

177

JAY WAS
HERE


177a

If I were to compile a list of the ten men most important to my inner life, perhaps another way of saying men I love, with the exception of the slot permanently filled by the incomparable Captain John, the upper half of the list would all be young Japanese locals. The senior member of the list, in terms of how long he has been on it, was unique in that I had never met him. I came to admire him and then became increasingly fond of him because of his photographs (one, especially)

and his writing. So when I had an email from Ryan Ozawa suggesting a gathering which would include him, I immediately accepted. Then, as I told friends earlier in the day, I was nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof as the hour approached. I wished for valium but since that was impossible begged Kory K to let me raid his fridge for a couple of beers before the meeting. Someone asked if I was worried that I'd be disappointed but, no, that wasn't a concern at all. I was afraid I'd end up babbling nonsense because of nervousness or even worse sit there staring at him with unabashed lust. The beer calmed me down a bit and then Kory and I went to Zippy's where Ryan and Katie Ozawa soon arrived.

When JT walked in I was shocked to realize I probably wouldn't have recognized him if I'd passed him in the mall, would have thought "what a cute dude" but wouldn't have connected him with the young man who has been almost a daily part of my life for over two years. In the householder days my morning routine was invariably wake up, take a leak and wash my face, fix a cup of tea, sit down at the computer, check email and then look to see if JT had written anything.

JT was a pioneer in the local school of online journal writing and, along with Ophelia, he was the best. Events in his life, including such major shifts as a recent relocation to the mainland and all that involves, have robbed us, I hope only temporarily, of the uniquely zany introspective nature of his journals. Should any reader wonder why I put no link to them here, JT is one of the most paranoid of the journaleers and asked me to remove the link from my Diary Keepers page. The link on that page now is only to JT's main page and one would need to beg him by email for access to the journals.

He writes about the thoughts in his head, the senseless worries we all experience but don't talk about. He wonders why, two days after eating lots of sushi, nothing has come out. He talks about the banalities of physical existence in a witty, sardonic way which often evokes a sympathetic grin, sometimes even laughing aloud, alone in a room with just a cat, a computer, and JT's company. That, I think, is one of the brilliant achievements of his journal. Reading it regularly, you come to feel you've actually spent time with him, listened to him as an intimate friend, been shown the "warts", the shortcomings we all have, but shared with you as if you were a trusted friend engaged in a like expedition, a quest to, if not make sense of life, at least enjoy its sometimes ludicrous moments together.

JT has always been generous with photographs, too. While he was at UH, he even had a live cam in operation by his desk and I captured many images from that, at one time had a very large collection of pictures of him which helped complete the illusion of being close friends with him.

And so, at last, I met him. He's even cuter than I expected so sitting there staring at him and thinking naughty thoughts was a distinct temptation. Despite my best effort to behave myself, he probably still left feeling like he'd undergone an intensive visual examination. One thing that definitely helped was his hands. He has wonderful hands, a great pleasure to look at, and staring at someone's hands is infinitely safer than gazing into their eyes.

I'm not going to report any of the discussion which went on for some two hours. In my mind, JT putting his foot up showing his Nike socks, his casually sophisticated style, the opportunity to put the sound of his voice into the databank which has made him a part of that "top ten" list -- all that was more important for me than anything which was actually said.

As the gathering was ending I finally indulged myself, put my arm around his shoulders and gave him as much a hug as I dared and said, "you're a sweetheart." That pretty well sums up my thoughts about JT, as they have been for over two years and as they remain after actually meeting him.

The digital facsimile which makes up Tale 177 is, for me, a thoroughly delightful collaboration. JT wrote it, using KM's pen, in a book given me by Kory K.

177b

After saying goodnight to the Zippy's assembly, I walked down to Ala Moana, my head full of thoughts about JT, not yet even thinking what I would write about him and the gathering but just basking in the happy glow being in his company had inspired. I was eager to go lua but there were four shopping carts immediately visible in the parking lot so I rushed around, almost walking with legs crossed, to return the carts and then quickly headed to the lua. What's a pair of wet shorts compared to four quarters? Fortunately, it only came close to that and I went on to 7-Eleven, bought a Mickey's, and it was one happy camper who arrived at the bench to enjoy the beer and the memories from the evening.

The next day was Admission Day, the libraries at UH were closed, and I was faced with the rarity of three days without online life. Helen R had asked me to join her in a holiday celebration, the original plan being to see "The Avengers" in Waikiki and then have lunch at Orleans Express at Ala Moana. But I mentioned having read an interesting (as it turned out, highly misleading) review of "Blade" and so that set Helen the Movie Addict into motion and she challenged me, so to speak, to a movie marathon, suggesting we should see not only "The Avengers" and "Blade" in Waikiki, but also "Wrongfully Accused" at Cinerama. And so we did. My butt was sore from sitting in theatre seats by the time it was over, but a rip-off-expensive glass of Red Dog in Waikiki and a bottle of Mickey's helped me survive the course.

I quite liked "The Avengers" despite its absurd plot line, particularly enjoyed all the little British quirky touches (from the very real frequency of "have a cup of tea" to the nonsensical little island which doesn't exist in the middle of the River Thames), and I thought the inheritors of the roles of Steed and Mrs. Peel did a superb job of carrying on the tradition.

"Blade" was pretty awful. The review had led me to expect some interesting cinematic wizardry but while there were a few amusing scenes wrought by special effects, there was nothing at all unique, it's one of the most lame vampire films I've ever seen and rated below zero on "socially redeeming qualities". In short, it's trash.

"Wrongfully Accused" is the kind of broad burlesque expected from a Leslie Nielsen spoof, had a few genuinely funny scenes with references to film from the silent era to the latest version of "Titanic" and was, all in all, a well-crafted "summer movie" even if, in some ways, its funniest moments were in the end credits.

I'd had ice cream snacks in the films, the Red Dog between the two films in Waikiki, and then we had personal pan pizzas from Ala Moana's Pizza Hut before heading to Cinerama, mine a pepperoni washed down with a Mickey's. That turned out to be an explosive combination and at some point, fortunately after the film, I turned into a gasbag. I won't be quick to ask for a Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza in future.

So although we did absolutely nothing relevant to the anniversary of Hawaii becoming a State, it was a thoroughly enjoyable holiday and I'm indebted to Helen, yet again, for taking me along for the ride.

Saturday morning was beautiful. I spent all morning at the Ewa end of Ala Moana Beach, being treated in the very early hours to the pageant of a church group gathering at the water's edge, singing a hymn, and then the minister wading out into the water and receiving several of the young members, one after another, for baptism by total immersion, a most touching scene. That was followed by another group, an absolute Adonis of a young man with twelve young ladies he led through a series of exercises on land and in the water. His demonstrations of the exercises were close to divine. No one should be so beautiful.

I spent the afternoon wandering around the mall, chatted with some of the Nomads (Jeff had lost Mutt again, for over 24 hours), found a few shopping carts and, miracle of miracles, an almost full bottle of Mickey's abandoned in the parking lot. Happy mallrat! The evening was spent with friends enjoying a chicken dinner, beer, and an antique Sherlock Holmes film from the Basil Rathbone series. After the absolute mayhem of "Blade", it was amusing to hear a cut-off finger discussed as extreme barbarism.

Rocky's Social Horror Club was in progress when I reached the hacienda, the first of those parties we've had in some time. The Sleeptalker and Rocky apparently reconciled their differences and spent a lot of time trying on each other's tee shirts, giggling together and demonstrating martial arts moves. I'd taken a beer with me so put the new country station on the radio, stuck the earplugs in to block the inane conversation, and enjoyed the beer and the music with an occasional glance at the fine bodies belonging to some rather silly young men. By the time they were ready to settle down there were only enough vacant benches inside for two of them, so Rocky and the Sleeptalker moved inside and the others either left or settled on outside benches.

I'd had a slight overdose of sun on Saturday so didn't go to the beach on Sunday and instead spent the entire day in the mall, setting a new record of almost five dollars from the carts. This permitted both a mid-afternoon Mickey's and a nightcap so it rated as a very fine Sunday. I moved up the underwear fashion scale, discovering an almost new pair of Ralph Lauren Polo white briefs. How someone came to leave those in a parking lot in mid-afternoon is indeed a mystery to ponder. And it was one of those days when food was abundant, something turning up almost constantly.

It began around ten in the morning. A white plastic bag was abandoned at the bus stop. Inside were three clear containers which hadn't even been opened. The largest one, still warm, contained eggs, perhaps ten halves, the whites flattened and seemingly poached with only a few crumbs of yolk mixed with spices in their centers. Eggs are a rare discovery and were much enjoyed. Another dish was an almost pudding-like mixture of black-eyed peas and rice with a sweet creamy sauce. The third dish I put away for later, black beans and rice with shredded coconut on top. I've no idea what the ethnic origin of those dishes is, but they were all new to me and quite delicious, would have sufficed for the entire day without the later supplements of ramen, cornbread, and some yummmy mochi spiced to taste like pumpkin pie.

At the hacienda, the BLD and his lady were already asleep, as was the Old Cougher and a newcomer who had settled on the bench next to the BLD. It was quiet, so I drank my beer without the radio, waved a greeting to the arriving Airport Refugee, and settled down to sleep before Rocky arrived, on his own.

It was a splendid holiday weekend. Despite several very entertaining shower companions, I didn't have sex at all, something of a relief. But certainly there is one player in these Tales 177 I would have been more than happy to get nekkid with.

178

Ralph Lauren's got no balls. Or at least that's the conclusion one arrives at after wearing these briefs he designed. It's like walking around wearing a jock strap. Banana Republic chinos, Calvin Klein tee shirt, Ralph Lauren underwear ... what kind of a hobo's wardrobe is that?

Well, I made it. The datebook says LUNCH w/TOMITA-SAN. Minus four hours and counting. I dug out an aloha shirt from my storage box to wear for the occasion, but I might chicken out and stick with the yuppie gear mentioned above.

There had been a possibility on Monday, the first day of the Fall Semester, that the gathering with JT might be repeated over sushi. I hocked some more of my fabled pension check (pension check? what pension check? September's going to be the poorest month yet), went downhill for a Mickey's and took it to the secluded grove. Despite the campus being as crowded as the mall on Saturdays, I had the place to myself, drank half the Mickey's and, dunno why, had a strong feeling the possible gathering wasn't going to happen. So I released the brakes and started the celebration of the New Year.

Auwe, what a hangover! I didn't eat anything all day, took the second half of the Mickey's in a soda cup to Manoa Garden. The Mechanic was there. We have a strange affectionately antagonistic relationship and usually sit at extreme opposite ends of the bar, but in the spirit of the Return to Campus he plopped down on the stool right next to me. Two cute Juniors who have only been in Hawaii a week, transfers from Chicago, were on the other side of me. The Mechanic was drinking an electric blue drink, a concoction of Bryant's that makes a Blue Hawaii taste like colored water. The two Juniors ordered one, too, I grabbed a little water glass and asked one of them for a taste. He filled the glass. A jug of beer appeared. I was off and running. Well, after awhile anyway when a second jug of beer appeared and Bryant sent me outside.

Kory K suggested I stop down to his place and wait to see if the gathering was going to happen so I staggered downhill again and attacked the last of his well-aged case of Heineken. Good thing the gathering didn't take place. Kory's had plenty of experience with the drunken cat, even Ryan has had slight exposure, but I'm not quite confident about being in JT's company unless I'm relatively sober. How drunk did I get? Well, I talked on the telephone TWICE, to Auntie Maria and to Yvette. As I was leaving, Kory poured some Jagermeister in my flask. The hair of the dog theory may be quite sound, but Jager is one hell of a big dog. Still, a swig of it with my senior coffee made for a decent breakfast the next morning.

And lo and behold, I got to the bench and Mondo came in, took the bench right behind me. The New Year's off to a fine start.

178a

Minus two hours and counting ...

"Hey! It's a miracle, he can walk!" Rewarded by the best of his wonderful smiles I've gotten yet, Timothy said "yeah" and I congratulated him. Oh no doubt about it, he's the Freshman of the Year. In a morning made totally delightful by constant exchanges of greetings with long unseen favorites, that encounter was the tops. What a sweetheart, no less charming without the crutches.

So far the only downer of resumed "normal" life on campus is the disappearance of "The Building Remains", that wonderful collaborative sculpture which gave so much pleasure this year. The original artist apparently dismantled it, left all the elements added by other people in a large white urn on a rock in the Art Building courtyard. I retrieved my first contribution, the little stuffed panda which was one of the few additions remaining in place throughout the summer. It is a shame the University didn't purchase that piece and give it a permanent home somewhere on campus. It was head-and-shoulders above all the "official" art works scattered around UH Manoa.

Ryan was pretty fierce in his journal about yesterday's issue of the campus newspaper, Ka Leo O Hawaii, so must be even more steamed by the second issue of the new year which definitely rates "lame" on my scale. Why on earth are they pushing Marriott so much? I hope they got a grant in exchange for all the free publicity. And the first issue at least had my two favorite columnists returning, the second didn't even have a calendar of events. Still, it is by far my favorite daily newspaper so I'm happy to have it back.

Fasi was supposed to be speaking on campus this morning but I didn't see any notice of it anywhere and wasn't much in the mood to listen to a politician anyway, so didn't pursue it. Much more fun to just wander around and enjoy all the familiar faces ... and bodies.

I've already shocked two of the young Japanese students in the NICE program by walking up and retrieving a few cigarette butts from the ashtray outside the classroom. They must be newbies, all the vets are used to seeing me walk past a couple of times a day. And it was cool to light those "shorts" with my Christmas present. Kory K gave me my Christmas present again yesterday, another of those elegant, breeze proof electronic lighters like the one he gave me in December which died after a few months, not even surviving until Easter.

At Thursday's gathering we talked about some of the other online journal keepers (of course) and there was agreement that even though we were happy for his improved condition, one of the chronically depressed writers was actually more interesting to read when he was miserable than he is now that his life has taken a turn for the better. Hmmmm, I wonder if that's the case for me, too? Tough luck if it is, feeling happy is very much nicer than feeling gloomy.

178b

So it happened.

He wanted to shake hands but no way I was having that.

Hugged him. Number One.

178c

And in the datebook, in Tomita-san's writing:

"Hey Albi! Whassup! Ready for another episode!"

179

While I try to write the Tales basically for myself, it's impossible to forget others will be reading them. One of the greatest challenges of creating the Tales is thus to write about things profoundly significant to me but which I know will seem utterly ordinary to many readers. The foremost such topic right now is my changed and changing relationship with the ocean.

From as early as I can remember I have been terrified of deep water. In San Antonio's Breckinridge Park there was, perhaps still is, a stone bridge built low enough that an inch or so of water flowed over it. I hated being in a car crossing that bridge, it was a waking nightmare and the subject of many unwaking ones. Armchair psychiatrists might attribute this fear to an awful evening on the bank of the Guadaloupe River. I was five years old, had spent the afternoon with relatives, picnicing and fishing. My seven-year-old cousin went swimming in the river and disappeared. Hours later, after night had fallen, they found his body and it was my first glimpse of a corpse when they dragged it out of the river. I never wanted to go on another fishing expedition. More mystically inclined analysts might credit it to having drowned in a past life or to the overwhelming presence of fire in my astrological profile, East and West.

Even in the ocean or the Great Salt Lake, I've always sunk like a stone. So it was a considerable shock to me one morning several weeks ago to discover that with an intuitive movement of the arms, a pushing down of the water, I could in fact remain afloat.

Since then I've spent ever-increasing time at the beach and in the water. I've learned to stay afloat, on my back, with much less energy, far more subtle arm movements. I've learned to do a sort of face-down dog paddle but still go at that too vigorously and soon tire from it. For the first time in my life, last week I deliberately went completely under water. The reflex action was panic and I quickly stood up spluttering. But I've continued doing it, trying to get past that automatic reaction, and on Saturday for the first time kept my eyes open. Floating on my back, I drifted out further than intended at one point and couldn't touch bottom. Panic, again, for a moment but I persuaded my body to return to the floating position and slowly headed back to terra firma.

There is not much in this year of changes which even comes close to being as important to me as this unexpected and unsought shift in lifelong habit patterns.

180

I've had almost zero appetite lately, had nothing at all to eat on Monday and only a slice of pizza on Tuesday yet didn't feel hungry at all. I found a bag of large bagels and a container of cream cheese for Wednesday's lunch but only ate one and a half bagels, gave the rest to the birds in the secluded grove. I definitely don't mind not feeling hungry but this is a little extreme. Still, I hate eating just because it seems necessary instead of eating because the body is demanding food. Perhaps I'll just waste away to a walking skeleton.

Hmmmmm, well, not on Wednesday anyway. As it turned out, as I was about to leave campus I found an abandoned large plate lunch box on a bench, filled to the brim with beef, broccoli and rice, smothered in delicious brown gravy. That gravy was so damned good I cleaned out the box to the last grain of rice except for a couple of pieces of beef I shared with a pretty little black-and-white cat who strolled over to check me out.

Maybe Tuesday will be my good news day ... and Wednesday and Thursday. I'd only been at the mall for about fifteen minutes when I saw that unmistakable shuffling bounce approaching. It was Tomita-san, accompanied by a strikingly beautiful young woman. Lucky Tomita-san, even luckier lady. He asked if I'd checked my email, I said of course but there had been nothing from him, patting him on the belly. "No, no," he said with that chuckle of his. He had told me he'd checked email for the first time since the spring semester ended, had over 250 mails. If I went three months without checking mine, I imagine LavaNet would long since have closed the box. There were almost that many after three days offline. I told Tomita-san I had written about him. "All good, I hope?" "Always," I said, but then thinking about it later realized I hadn't actually written anything, had, as usual, just done my adoremo te and left it at that.

Considering that Tomita-san has been my Number One Bar Buddy for almost a year now, I guess that's a bit strange. Okay, this won't be easy.

Tomita-san is cute. But it isn't the twink normal style of cute like JT or Timothy, it's more like a jolly little Taoist monk. In mystical mode, I'd say Tomita-san and I have been friends since the Pan Tao-Shih life, at least. At the gathering last week, he was mentioned and Kory K said that since I'd been referring to him as Tomita-san all the time, Kory was expecting a FOB Japanese student and was surprised when he met Tomita-san to find a local-as-local-can-be Farrington grad, complete with backward baseball cap. Of course, on him it looks more like a Taoist skull cap. He has twinkling eyes, much "squintier" than JT's and a short beard on his chin with a wannabe-goatee which starts under his lower lip and might reach the bottom of his chin in twenty or thirty years (I swear it didn't grow one centimetre during the summer).

He told me once how old he is, but I don't remember (I'm one of those people who say age doesn't matter and mean it), but it's at least five years older than I would have guessed. He usually wears shorts and has now added a colorful koi to the tattoos on his right leg, above the Japanese characters of his name which provided the opening gambit in our first conversation together. He walks with a shuffling bounce, as I said, quite unmistakable. I can spot him on campus by his walk long before I can make out his face. And he often wears a flannel plaid long-sleeve shirt tied by the sleeves around his waist forming a half skirt in the back, as he was at the mall, and that accents the walking style.

He has a splendid sense of humor and a kind of supressed giggle which becomes a chuckle, totally charming. And he's one of those magic people who make you feel happier just for having been in their presence for even a few minutes. I touch him a lot, pat him on the belly or the shoulder, not so much because I'm after his body but because it feels good, it increases that feeling of goodwill and happiness his company inspires.

Okay, that's a little bit of my thoughts about Tomita-san. After our first encounter at the mall, I saw him later talking on the telephone outside Foodland and just enjoyed watching him. He's as animated when talking on the phone as he is in person. Then I ran into him and the young lady one more time. Three times lucky.

The shopping cart business sucked. In an hour, only one turned up. That put the bank over the 20oz bottle of Red Dog limit, so I gave it up and was heading down to 7-Eleven when I ran into Louis from Rio. He had been at the Garden on Tuesday and had asked for the address of the Tales and had managed to find them but was somewhat bewildered by all the options (which no doubt would be any newcomer's reaction). He didn't understand why there were "a" and "b" parts, so I explained that some people check the Tales more than once a day. If I write more than one thing on a day, I put them up as alpha supplements so people don't have to wade through what they've already read, and the next day combine them all into one Tale, eventually group a few Tales into loosely related segments. Of course he had wanted to see what I'd said about him, but I couldn't remember offhand what the number of the Tale was which first introduced him. I warned him it wasn't anything significant enough to search for and told him if he wants a Tale all about him, he'll just have to wait until I know him a lot better.

None of the youngsters were at the hacienda, just the BLD and his lady, the Airport Refugee, the Old Cougher, a new regular (black man who prefers to sleep on the floor instead of a bench) and the Hood, a fellow who day-and-night wears a light gray sweatshirt with the hood up (and not the one similarly wardrobed who is totally filthy all the time). I'd found four paperbacks at the bus stop by campus, stopped in Rainbow to sell them but the bastids wouldn't buy any of them, not even a mint condition copy of Joyce's The Dubliners. Well, I'd thought when finding it I really should read that again, far easier than tackling Ulysses, so I put it in my backpack along with a lightweight Brother Cadfael mystery called The Pilgrim of Hate which I read while enjoying the beer (the only booze of the day).

But woe is me! Not only were the beergardens empty again on Thursday morning, but I was seven cents short of a senior coffee and only found one penny on my walk to the mall. So I went over to have a shower and wait for a cup to become vacant. I was sitting outside McD's and the Queen Mum walked up, noticed I didn't have my usual cup and asked, in her toothless mumble, if I needed a cup. I said yep, and she said, "here, take this one", handed me a cup half full of coffee, pulled another one out of her bag and went in to get it refilled. Such a sweet old lady, she can probably do that all day without anyone in McD's complaining (and I do think she spends most of her Social Security check there each month). I hadn't been too concerned because I've held onto some instant coffee packets from the Angel of the Leftovers, just in case there was such a shortage of McD's coffee, but it was a funny and touching exchange with the Queen Mum, making it even better.

Might as well get used to it, I guess. I've already spent all but about $25 of the September pension check, so there are poor, poor days ahead.

And it's minus four hours and counting. Yep, Tomita-san will be at the Garden at lunchtime.

180a

Ching pao!

Classicist pronunciation. Ching with a CH. One of the problems I had with young Gregory and his Bible-discussing friends was that they all had yielded to that silly idea that "ching" should be said "jing", that "tao" starts with a D sound. Sorry, I refuse.

I feel as though I've come from an Empowerment. My Guru, Tomita-san (Rimpoche?), has given me my mantra. I can only regret I wasn't sufficiently prepared to present him with a white scarf.

The best I could do was say, and most earnestly, as we parted, "Thanks, W*****. You're a sweetheart."

I printed out Tale 180 and gave it to Tomita-san to read. He chuckled several times and handed the print-out back to me when he was finished. I asked him later if he was surprised by any of it and he said, no, I wasn't the first to talk about his unique way of walking, that he'd always thought he walked just like anyone else.

Ching pao!

Thursday is The Day this semester. He's only taking two classes, both of them back-to-back on Thursday morning, and he goes off to his new job at some fish wholesaler in the afternoon, so the Thursday lunch hour is the time of magic.

Gurus come in many guises but however one meets them, there's nothing to do but be grateful, listen and watch carefully.

181

Ching pao!. Amazing how we acquire things that we know will never leave our memory bank. When Tomita-san first said, or rather exclaimed, ching pao!, it was like being on acid and hearing Tibetan temple bells or that moment in "Kundun" when Reting Rimpoche realizes he is looking at the new Dalai Lama. "What did you say?" I asked Tomita-san, and he repeated it, punctuated with one of his best chuckles. Faster than a speeding bullet.

I was sitting on a planter outside Foodland on Thursday afternoon and one of the Ala Moana Nomads, rather drunk for 3:30 (although there's nothing wrong with that), came staggering toward me. I gave him the upward nod greeting and he sat down beside me. In a somewhat slurred voice, he wanted to know if he could ask me a question. Sure, I told him. There was a rambling preamble which I only interrupted when he said I probably wouldn't tell him the truth anyway, at which point I assured him I would do my best to answer his question honestly. The question: was I working undercover for the Honolulu Police Department! I assured him I was not working undercover for the HPD or anyone else, had not worked at all for over a year. I guess I convinced him, because he patted me on the shoulder, told me I'm a good man, and wandered off.

I was reminded of the first stay in India when so many people thought I worked for the CIA. Why else would a young American sit for months in a remote village so near the sensitive Chinese border? They must have been very disappointed never to find any sophisticated electronic equipment in my room. Maybe I'm overdoing the clean and respectable routine, if people can think I'm an undercover agent, although I'd think that if the HPD did have a homeless fake, he'd adopt a more scruffy image than mine.

Thursday's nutritious daily diet: a cup and a half of coffee for breakfast. A 32oz jug of Budweiser and a slice of pizza for lunch, provided by Tomita-san along with a gentle lecture on the foolhardiness of not eating properly. A bowl of ramen for dinner. It's almost necessary to fight the Ala Moana Food Court Cleaning Army for those bowls. Some of them seem to regard the trash as their personal possession. One of them snatched a bowl just before I was about to grab it, so when I spotted another one abandoned, I grabbed it even though a Cleaning Person was making a bee-line for it. Silly people.

The internal jukebox woke up with "God Bless the Child" but after spotting the day's headline about the global market dive, switched to "This Is the Beginning of the End". Several readers have talked or written about the increasingly messy global economic situation, one even saying I probably timed this change in lifestyle wisely, getting some advance training before I'm joined by a lot more. A global economic depression wouldn't make all that much difference to me now, for sure, although the competition for those ramen bowls would no doubt heat up considerably.

And it's already bad enough for the shopping carts. I scored three on Thursday before getting bored and giving it up, not that concerned about getting a beer anyway. As I was leaving the mall, I spotted my major competitor returning two carts. He uses a different technique, continually circles the two levels of the mall whereas I tend to just sit and watch for likely marks leaving Foodland. My competitor scores when I wander off to look for tobacco or visit the Food Court and someone leaves with a shopping cart and takes it to the more distant regions.

I see I inspired (challenged?) Kory K to write a defense of his enthusiasm for so-called wrestling telecasts. I wasn't meaning to express disapproval; anyone who spent a year watching "All My Children" every afternoon can hardly criticize someone for their television enthusiasms. My question really was wondering how he could enjoy the WWF nonsense. The only time I see it is when I go to his place and it seems to be on about 9 out of 10 times I visit. I get bored with it in about five minutes and start to feel disgusted with myself for even watching it in another five, but he makes some valid points in his journal, especially for the segment of the population fascinated with big boobs.

I got to the hacienda early but was feeling fairly tired and instead of reading just settled down to sleep a bit after nine o'clock. Around eleven I had a weird dream and rolled over, opened my eyes and looked right into Mondo's. I smiled, he smiled back, and I closed my eyes again. Such a handsome fellow, that one, a very nice feeling to sleep beside him (Rocky had again taken the bench on the other side of the Old Cougher, who more than lived up to his nickname on Thursday night). I finally saw Mondo in tentpole mode in the early morning. Not as big as I would have expected but who cares when it's attached to such a fine body.

Ching pao!

182

In a month which was crammed full of extraordinary days, Friday definitely rated high on the list. As I was walking onto campus in the early morning I stopped, as usual, to glance at the bulletin boards near Sinclair Library and noticed a solitary item seeking someone's assistance for two hours each week. I wrote down the telephone number. Since the advertiser had mentioned living in one of the dorms, but no further details, I first asked Kory K if the dorms were segregated by sex here and, if so, was that one a male dorm. He wasn't sure, reminded me it would do no harm to contact the person in any case, so I thought about it for an hour or so and then went over to Kory's office to use his phone and called the number. It was a male voice. We had such a difficult time understanding each other that I didn't expect to hear back from him, but gave him my email address and Kory's phone number since Kory had kindly agreed to act as a go-between and relay messages. Mid-afternoon I had an email from Kory telling me the "dude" wanted me to call him back, so I did, and went over half an hour later for an interview. And got the job.

I was nervous as hell going there but when I met YJC I instantly liked him, so much so I would have volunteered to do the job for nothing if I didn't need the money.

The timing of my noontime break in the secluded grove was most fortuitous. Two young ladies were there with large plate lunch boxes. I could immediately tell one had the Hawaiian plate since she was busy cleaning out the recognizable cup of poi. As it turned out, all she did eat was the poi and the lomi salmon, left all the lau lau, beef stew and rice. Since I would have done just the reverse, we were the perfect Jack Sprat and his Wife team.

When Hamilton was about to close at five, I stopped by Manoa Garden and saw Tadzio ... I mean, young Gregory ... for the first time since the evening of the "Bible Study" group. I was very happy to see him when totally sober and his greeting was completely charming. Stone sober or drunk as a skunk, no doubt about it, I was right on the mark in designating him as a Tadzio. The lad has a frighteningly uncanny effect on me. No, I definitely don't want his body, it's more than I can cope with keeping my balance while he effortlessly, and no doubt totally without conscious intention, turns my inner life topsy-turvy. Like a moth to the flame, I'd be greatly pleased to spend more time in his company. If ever someone needed to cast an Angel of Death in a pageant, young Gregory is a natural for the role.

I did shopping carts until I had enough for a Red Dog, with the always delightful surprise of running into Timothy at the mall, and then went off to the bench, physically and emotionally weary but genuinely grateful to Dame Fortune for the meeting with YJC and for my first hourly-rate job since 1989.

Ching pao!

183

One night with you ...

Elvis doesn't get played much on the internal jukebox but I wasn't overly surprised when that popped up after the longest conversation I've had yet with Mondo, he'd gone to sleep and I lay there looking at him and thinking how I'd love to have the money to invite him to have dinner and spend the night with me at the Halekulani, even if "spending the night" just meant sleeping in a twin bed next to him without Rocky on a bench at my feet. Since I feel fairly certain he wouldn't object to my enjoying his body, the fantasy has even greater charm.

Weird stuff love is, the way it sometimes just bonks you on the head without warning, leaving you instantly enchanted, and other times the way it slowly sneaks up on you until you suddenly realize more and more of your time is being spent thinking about someone and anticipating the next time you see them.

With the perfect synchronicity which has accompanied every page of The Magic Mountain, I had taken a short break from reading it, returned to it in the morning after having that exchange with Mondo and those thoughts it inspired and found myself at a point where the many natures of love is the subject under discussion.

Readers of the Tales could no doubt get the impression that my life is one infatuation after another and there's no doubt about it, I've had the extraordinary good fortune to meet some fascinating young men this year. But the top five of that list I recently wrote about has been stable for over a year now, even two years with the exception of Tomita-san's meteoric rise to the top spot in one afternoon. Mondo is the first challenger to that lasting stability, sitting there handsomely in the number six slot.

And okay, I've learned my lesson. I tried for awhile to keep a pack of cigarettes solely for the purpose of giving one to interesting people who asked me for a smoke. Each time I acquired a pack with that intention, it seemed I went days when no one did ask and I'd end up smoking them all myself when ashtrays were barren. Maybe I'll never manage to keep a whole pack in reserve for the purpose, but I'm determined to keep at least a few virgin smokes in the case Kory K gave me. For Mondo, if for no other reason. He asked me for one and the best I could do was encourage him to take the longest of my "shorts" collection. Trying to make up for it, I did offer to share my beer but he doesn't drink.

After a fourth night in a row with him on the bench behind mine, so near I could reach over and touch him, we both woke at the same time, exchanged smiles, and he went back to sleep. It was a fine start to the last Sunday of August.

The last Saturday was a splendid day, too. I found a box of almost a dozen pastries immediately after arriving on campus so the birds and I had a luxurious, extended breakfast which continued, off and on, throughout the morning. I didn't spend much time at the library and decided to leave campus fairly early, after arrangements for the evening had been completed by email.

On the bus I was greatly amused, or perhaps bemused is the better term, by a lady trying to pick me up. A gentlewoman of a certain age, unmarried, as she told me, got on the bus heavy laden with plastic bags from Star Markets, one of which hit me on the leg as she struggled to get into the seat next to me. I said it looked like she had gone a bit overboard with her shopping and that began the conversation which, after some musing over how lonely life can be without anyone to go to the beach with or to the movies, she asked if we could exchange telephone numbers! I don't know if she believed me when I told her I had no telephone. She said she lives in the "last building on the Ala Wai" which I assumed means the condo across from the Hawaii Prince, but she loves Star Market so makes the trip up to Puck's Alley to shop there. If I were a real scoundrel, I would have stayed on the bus and offered to help her carry her bags home. Perhaps if she had included "someone to have a drink with" in her lament, I might have. In any case, I told her I'm at Hamilton Library every day and if she ever wanted to find me, that's where to look. What an odd bar buddy she would make.

Darren Benitez was singing at Ala Moana's Centerstage so I stopped to listen to him, found two shopping carts, went over to have a shower and then got back on a University-bound bus to meet Helen R. at Sushi No Ka Oi. Helen got on the same bus. I tried another new-for-me sushi, one called (I think) "Ocean Salad" and didn't much like it, but at least it wasn't as nasty as the salmon eggs one. The proprietor made a special, extra large one of his bizarre Mexican refried beans with salsa sushi for me. It may be a weird twist on sushi but it remains my favorite choice on the menu there.

Then we walked uphill to campus and joined the line waiting to buy tickets for the Gaelic Storm concert at Andrews Amphitheatre. It was my first time inside that classic Greek-style venue and I loved it. My choice was to sit right up on the top row with the full panorama of the crowd below, but Helen spotted Fletch and her brood, went down to say hello, and then waved at me to join them, so we ended up sitting on the grass, front and center of stage. Considering how much fun it turned out to be watching Patrick Murphy's shenanigans, during and between songs, I was grateful we had moved.

I love Irish music, and Gaelic Storm is a fine, fine band. Some people were on their feet dancing the entire evening and I couldn't blame them. The only thing missing was a constant supply of jugs of Guinness, but I had to make do with the Mickey's I'd had at Sushi No Ka Oi and with enjoying another one afterwards, still glowing in the joy of the music and happy to have been able to offer some to Mondo even if he didn't accept.

After that wake-up smile on Sunday morning I walked to Ala Moana for those welcome cups of senior coffee, filling the flask with Bud Light and finding two unopened bottles of Heineken on the way, perfect refreshment for a beautiful morning on the beach and in the blue Pacific water. Then I listened to Bob Dylan's "Not Dark Yet" after having put it in storage for some weeks.

"Maybe in my next life I'll be able to hear myself think."

Maybe in mine, I'll be able to stop thinking and enjoy the quiet.

184

Oh it's a long, long time from May to December ...

Considering it's the last day of August, it was entirely appropriate for the internal jukebox to pick Kurt Weill's beautiful "September Song" to start the day. But I think it was more the phrase "to spend these golden days with you" which provided the inspiration rather than the calendar, even if it needs adjusting to "golden nights".

A reader liked the Halekulani fantasy and reminded me I am by no means the first to entertain that dream. I'm sure that's true and no doubt that noble hotel has seen income from folks lucky enough to make the dream come true.

The reader also wondered which of the "top five" I would want to take along on such a "one night with you". Ahhhh, none of them, as the list existed yesterday. Of course, I must remind readers that no such list existed at all until I invented it as a literary device to define why the meeting with JT was so meaningful for me. I said "if I were to create" such a list, but as with so much in these Tales, mention of something creates a reaction in fact and the list became a subject for continuing thought. Today I could answer the reader's question about which of the "top five" I'd want to have that one night with.

Mondo.

Avoiding any contest, I revised the nature of the list itself and changed it to active participants, relocated the two inactive members of the "top five" to a Hall of Fame list. Captain John and KM2 (on that list, KM has to be KM2 because Kevin Murphy was already on it) are transferred to that list of all-time loves of my life. But think not, my pretties, of ever being Number One on that list. The Dutchman has held that spot for 27 years and I doubt that will ever change.

So Mondo and Bobby from McD's move into the "top five" in the active army. After Sunday night, Mondo would have moved there anyway, even if displacing someone else.

Oh, decadent life at the hacienda, deliciously decadent life ...

As I was walking up the path to the hacienda, I could see only one person was there, settled on the bench Mondo has been using for several days. Grumbling slightly to myself about such impertinence, I got to the bench and saw it was in fact Mondo himself there. We exchanged smiles, I said "you've got the place all to yourself" and he said "I must have scared everyone away". Dame Fortune had kindly given me a virgin, unsmoked Marboro cigarette earlier and I had tucked it away in the case Kory K gave me. I handed it to Mondo, telling him I had been saving it just for him.

Okay, first bridge crossed. The lad has to be extraordinarily naive if he hadn't already figured out how smitten I am with him (and I think he had) but if not, that should have done it for sure.

He thanked me, lit it with the lighter I also passed over to him, and asked me where I was from. I told him New York and London, but that I'd been here almost ten years. It seems stupid to tell people I am from Texas simply because the whim of the military made it so. It gives such a misleading impression since everyone has a stereotyped idea of what a Texan is and I'm not even close to the mold. I'm proud, in a quiet way, of being born a Texan and especially one from San Antonio, home of the Alamo, but it's all irrelevant when discussing it with someone for the first time.

I asked him the question in turn, and a few more. Mondo is 21, born and raised in Kalihi, graduated from high school (I didn't recognize the name of the school) and then decided to drop out, be a beach bum. "I guess your family's not too happy about that," I said, and he grinned broadly and shook his head no. I asked him what he does during the day since he's one of the few hacienda residents I've never seen elsewhere, and he said he spends a lot of time watching television and hangs out in Waikiki, doesn't surf much anymore but skateboards. My guess is, he is able to spend the day at his parental home but has to leave when his father is due home from work. That could be entirely wrong, but confirming it was further than I'd go with my questions. He gets support from somewhere in the form of a monthly check which he said he never entirely spends but he was nevertheless looking forward to the one for September.

I asked if "the guy with the topknot" (Rocky) was a buddy of his, and he said yes. Later I mentioned his new earring, a larger gold ring than he had been wearing, and he told me Rocky had given it to him. Hmmmm.

He has a soft, gentle voice, wonderful to listen to, and like most of these lads is completely able to shift gears from the rough pidgin they use with each other to perfectly constructed and phrased "mainland English". But even though he seemed eager to talk with someone, he's very shy and rarely volunteered anything other than an answer to a direct question. I didn't want to go too far too fast with those, so the conversation reached a lull, I offered him one of the longer "shorts" I had stashed away, then gave him a book of matches (since he doesn't carry his own means of making fire) with two more lengthy shorts, and prepared to settle down for sleep.

I told him, "If you ever get desperate for a smoke in the night, just wake me up." And the little bugger did! I was at a dinner party with Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Rauschenberg, a lively discussion of methods to restore paintings done on unsized cotton canvas underway, when I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. Leaving one dream, I entered another one, seeing Mondo standing over me, sheepishly asking for a smoke. But it wasn't a dream. I got the box out of my bag and congratulated him when he found another nicely long "short". He went to an outside bench to smoke it, and I settled back grinning at how pleased I was to have had my sleep interrupted and remembering how as a child the last thing my mother would say to me each night was always, "If you need anything in the night, call me."

Mondo was restless all night, had twice gotten up to smoke the shorts I'd given him earlier. In between those two sessions, though, he'd fallen soundly asleep and I was treated to another tentpole demonstration. I know I said I wouldn't write about throbbing erections, so I'll say no more.

Rocky, as usual, found a way to top it. He came in after midnight, while I was at least semi-asleep, and he was drunk again, said something to Mondo about having been on Kapiolani (in such a way that they both no doubt knew exactly where he was talking about), and rather clumsily settled down to sleep. After the tentpole delight with Mondo, I'd dug out a smoke for myself, was sitting there enjoying it, when Rocky, on his back, without even looking around, opened his pants and pulled it out. Okay, I'd seen it in tentpole mode, too, I'd watched him pump it inside his shorts, I'd seen it pump itself, but now I was actually seeing it. That boy is HUNG. I knew how long it was but had never been able to see how big around it is, with a thick unusually elongated head. Well, he was laying there with it in his hand, rolled on one side and pissed on the floor! After he finished, he looked back to see if I was watching but I pretended to be staring at the opposite wall. I probably should have just grinned at him, or said "thanks for the show".

My feelings for Rocky have always stopped just short of actually wanting physical contact with him. He works so hard on his tough guy image. I wouldn't have any hesitation about sex with a real tough guy but with someone for whom it really is just an image, and a strenuously protected one, the vulnerable intimacy of sexual contact could have undertones I'd just as soon not get involved with. So even though he has a great body, wonderful arms, and as I now know, a most impressive tool, I still pass.

Mondo is another story.

Good Lord in heaven, what a thing it is, that the flesh can crave the flesh like that, simply because it is not its own flesh, but belongs to another soul -- how strange, and yet, when you come to look at it, how unassuming, how friendly, how almost apologetic!"

Thanks for that synchronistic comment next morning, Herr Mann.

185

Nothing I've read, fact or fiction, and little I've directly experienced has done much to prepare me for induction into Rocky's Social Horror Club. Perhaps Burroughs comes most close, but his wild boys are so romanticized (look who's talking), so mythic, they hardly match the real thing. In my first years of high school I had my best friend, Terry, and my girlfriend, first Betty, then Sally. We formed such a tight, loyal group there was little need or inclination to even think of the "in crowd" at school. But when I had to transfer to a Southern California high school and by some fluke became good buddies with Larry, the captain of the football team, I realized just how much difference it made to be part of an inner circle and that long ago experience is perhaps the closest parallel to this new and totally unexpected development.

I had two quarters from the day before, found another in a campus vending machine. After a mid-afternoon trip downtown I decided not to return to campus, went instead to the mall where a shopping cart was waiting to be redeemed. A dollar in hand that early held great promise of a Mickey's for a nightcap but I first concentrated on getting sufficient tobacco for both me and Mondo. I had already tucked away two virgin, unsmoked Marboros for him and soon found another.

All this chasing around on the hunt not only wears down slippers, it gets a little rough on the feet so at about 4:30 I sold my expiring-at-midnight bus pass to a local lady for the dollar she was about to spend on fare, figuring a walk to the hacienda would be less of an effort than hunting down four shopping carts. After a large bowl of noodles at the Food Court, I walked down to the 7-Eleven, bought the Mickey's, and continued on to the hacienda. No one was there so I had a welcome hour to myself, enjoyed the beer and the arrival of a gramophone in The Magic Mountain. The Airport Refugee arrived, we exchanged greetings and he settled down to sleep. The BLD and his lady were again absent and, in retrospect, I'm grateful they have been away for a week since I doubt the evolution which has taken place would have happened had they been there.

The beer finished and still no sign of Mondo, I went to sleep. Then came that gentle tap on my shoulder and Mondo's soft voice asking if I had a smoke. I sat up, dug out one of the Marboros and gave it to him just as Rocky walked up. "Ah, the human waterfall," I said. He knew immediately what I was talking about but we had to explain it to Mondo. I told Rocky I had tried to pretend I hadn't seen it and he said he had tried to pretend he hadn't done it, had been so drunk he didn't really know what he was doing until he had finished, was grateful the puddle had evaporated by morning (although he used "dried out"). Then he asked my name and I found out what their names are. I told them about the nicknames and they both loved "Mondo", Mondo himself visibly delighted with it.

Burroughs must have experienced the problem. With the advantage (or disadvantage) of our greater experience and knowledge, we cannot fail to meet young men like these and observe their actions without arriving at interpretations which are no doubt far removed from the conscious intentions of the observed. It's clear that Mondo is the "baby" of the fellowship and Rocky takes an indulgent but protective stance toward him which reminded me of those nights in the beginning when Rocky always took the bench separating me from Mondo. I suppose the new arrangement, with Mondo beside me and Rocky at my feet, was a sign I had passed "probation" and could be trusted that close to the baby. Like I said, it's highly unlikely they act consciously on that level.

Rocky was amused by my saving virgin cigarettes for Mondo, and Mondo proudly said "he did it yesterday, too." Rocky is too worldly, too streetwise not to see my affection for Mondo and realize its lustful aspect but he seems untroubled by it. Mondo, though, is much more innocent than I would have guessed and is clearly accustomed to receiving favors and special attention. It isn't impossible that he sees my attitude toward him in the same way (although it also isn't impossible he and Rocky have carried their friendship to the same level I'd like to have with Mondo). So much is still theorizing and speculation. Mondo is very comfortable with my fascination, opens his eyes and catches me laying there just looking at him, smiles and closes his eyes again. Whatever else may come from this evolving relationship, those moments are a great joy, as touching and treasured as any far more intimate contact in my memory.

We then had a brief civics lesson since neither young man had any idea what immigration meant and were surprised to learn people from other countries can't just come here and stay. Rocky's first question was "Samoans?" and I explained people from American Samoa can come here. Mondo asked, "Hawaiians?" He is "mostly Hawaiian", with one of my favorite Hawaiian names, so it was thoroughly bizarre to explain to him that Hawaiians are American citizens. What do they teach youngsters in school these days? (Mondo told me I reminded him of one of his favorite teachers. Lucky teacher, to have known Mondo as a boy.)

Rocky untied his topknot and brushed his hair, laughing as I told Mondo how I had watched it grow from a little stub sticking straight up. Extraordinary, how the relationship with young Rocky has evolved through these months. I wouldn't be at all nervous about having a shower with him now, it would be fun.

The Old Cougher and the Hood had arrived, so Rocky got out his Walkman and disappeared into his music. I gave Mondo two lengthy shorts (since he had smoked the other virgins already) and a book of matches and settled down to sleep.

It had been an evening to remember.

I woke up several times during the night and watched Mondo sleeping for a little while, matched my breathing to his (faster than my usual rhythm) and wished on a star to know him better. After a night with thoughts like that, it was really blessing upon blessings to arrive at the Ala Moana showers after coffee just as a very handsome local Japanese man, early thirties probably, with a slim, muscular body was preparing to shower. He wanted to be served and I most happily obliged, although totally astounded since it wouldn't have occurred to me, looking at him, that I'd stand a chance. It's not true what they say about all Japanese men being small, either.

It's a long, long time from May to December, and August certainly was a memorable passage through that time. I asked Mondo what the meaning was of the Japanese characters he has tattooed vertically from below the elbow to the wrist. He said, "time".

186

Maybe Tuesday will be my good news day ...

Hair was THE topic of the first Tuesday of September. Mondo has such soft hair, very very short and curly. I expected it to be wire-like but it was soft as silk. I know, because I rubbed my hand over it, was so astonished I went back to do it again. He was asleep, or at least convincingly pretending to be so.

I got totally, thoroughly trashed on Tuesday which was how I got up the nerve to gently stroke his head. A melon fell from heaven and after going to collect it, even before heading to Duke's, I stopped to buy a pack of Kool's for Mondo. He prefers menthol. When I finally staggered to the bench, I left three of them along with a disposable lighter from my found-objects collection on the bench by his head, and petted him.

A reader told me yesterday I had once said I was "in love" with Rocky. I don't remember saying that, must have been a drunken weak moment. From the very beginning it has been my earnest effort NOT to fall in love with that young man, and I don't think I ever did. Mondo is something else. I haven't had a case of "I got it bad and that's no good" in a long, long time. Even KM didn't come close to this.

So I bought the cigarettes for him and went to Duke's. This was after UH totally screwed up my life. In a week which has been plagued by an epidemic of classroom changes, the main topic of complaint at the Garden, they changed YJC's second class to Webster Hall. That's only one building away from his first class and right by the campus shuttle stop, so he doesn't need assistance after all, can manage on crutches. I didn't mind the loss of income, I loved being a servant, I've always wanted to be Jeeves. Dame Fortune giveth, and she taketh away.

So I took my earnings from a nerve-wracking but wonderfully enjoyable couple of hours on the job and went to Manoa Garden, downed three jugs of Budweiser, was told by Bryant to go outside, got on a bus to Waikiki, collected the melon, and went to Duke's.

I probably would have stayed there until the money ran out, but I was supposed to meet some friends for sushi and a film, so I headed back toward campus and Sushi No Ka Oi. Wow, where does he find that cute help? Scott is even better than Eric.

Alas, even though it was my idea and I really did want to see "Henry Fool", I fell asleep almost immediately after it started. I love Mondo dearly but there's no doubt about it, sleeping so near him is hazardous to my nocturnal health.

I slept until an unprecedented 6:30 in the morning, woke as Mondo and Rocky were preparing to depart. Mondo said "good morning" and I melted.

What is this thing called love ...

187

My romance can make my wildest dreams come true ...

Uncanny feeling, to dream of someone, wake and open your eyes, see them just a couple of feet away. But it wasn't at all a wild dream. Mondo and I were walking together in a country landscape perhaps right out of Magic Mountain. And when I opened my eyes he had a smile on his sleeping face which so perfectly matched the mood of the dream.

I didn't sleep much on Wednesday night. I'd felt very tired, weary even, so got a bottle of Mickey's and headed to the bench just after sunset. Mondo was already there. The BLD and his lady were back and then the long absent Snorer arrived. The lady settled down, the BLD and the Snorer went to outside benches for a chat, so Mondo and I were on our own. It's very difficult. He clearly wants to talk but rarely initiates a topic and answers questions without saying anything more than the basic answer. I did hit on one subject which got him going for a few minutes when I mentioned that one of the new crazes on campus is "skateboarding" without a board. They jump up on banisters and slide down them, etc., all the moves of skateboarding without the board, without the noise. Mondo said he does that, too, even bought a special pair of Nikes because their design is so good for it.

I rationed out three Kools during our talk and gave him one more as we settled down to sleep. At one point he got a keychain from his bag (with two keys that looked like house keys, adding to my suspicion that he does go home during the day, a theory also supported by his daily change of trousers this week even though his backpack is almost empty). "You have a large wardrobe for someone who sleeps on a bench," I said. "They're mostly school clothes," he explained. He had a small pocket knife on the keychain and proceeded to hack away at a wart on his right hand. Jonathan got those things all the time, too, and I told Mondo he really should get the liquid remover they sell at Long's, a much safer way of getting rid of them. When he finished the surgery, I handed him some antibiotic ointment to put on it and a Bandaid. If it had been Jonathan, I would have made him stop digging at the thing with a knife but didn't feel it was appropriate with Mondo so could only try to assist after the fact.

I had lectured myself off and on all day, telling myself to get a grip and snap out of it. After a couple of hours sleep, I woke up and continued the lecture while watching Mondo sleep. He is an incredibly sexy young man but the physical attractiveness is made even more alluring by his gentle, softspoken manner, a prince. It's no good telling myself I can't be in love with him but I can set limits on it, stop it from occupying so much of my thinking. Maybe. Thus went the lecture, anyway, although a lengthy tentpole interlude didn't help at all to strengthen my resolve.

There's love and there's sex. While unquestionably starry-eyed and full of desire, adoring Mondo, the fact is, my new shower buddy is my dream lover come true. So Japanese, and with that wonderful muscular body -- a naked hug during our second encounter was the most sensually rewarding moment I've experienced in years. If I had tried to create in my fantasy an ideal sex companion, he'd not only match the fantasy but surpass it. Extraordinary that he should enter my life at the same time the long fascination with Mondo has taken this turn toward active friendship.

I had said to Mondo that Rocky must have been out drinking since he still hadn't arrived when we settled down and he agreed, said he wouldn't hang out with Rocky when he was drinking. That perhaps explains the times when Rocky has been so sullen and brusque. He did arrive after midnight but the Snorer had taken the bench at my feet so Rocky had to grab the one on the other side of the Old Cougher. I'd been asleep when he arrived and he was still sleeping when I woke, so there was no contact with him, perhaps just as well judging by Mondo's remark.

I lost the bracelet I'd found, stopped in the International Marketplace and bought another (one dollar compared to $3-5 at Ala Moana) and then lost it, too. They slide off too easily and I suspect both were lost when removing Captain John's long-sleeved shirt. I gave it one more try, made a special trip to Waikiki and bought another because I enjoy wearing one and I resent being so unattentive that I can lose it without noticing.

Thursday. Tomita-san day and I did diddleysquat all week but dream and think of Mondo, have sex with a Japanese hunk, and drink beer. Something tells me these are the good old days.

Tomita-san had his boss from the fishmarket with him and a co-worker who was the sweetest little thing I ever did see. Two of the young ladies who were a regular part of the Garden gatherings last year arrived, so the Tomita-san Fan Club took up the entire bar, and everyone proceeded to get slightly stewed. I suppose it's the best way to show up drunk at work, taking your boss along with you. Every once in awhile Tomita-san would look at me and say, "what's up, Albi?" as I was sitting there closely examining the back of his neck and his ears and wondering how it is he's Number One. I honestly don't know. There was a rare treat when he took his cap off a couple of times, doesn't happen very often.

When they left for work, I moved outside to finish my beer, stopped in the library briefly and then went to Waikiki to hear Pure Heart at the Regent's Ocean Terrace bar. I was determined to ask Jon to introduce me to Jake, since we'd never actually met, but Jake stopped over at the bar before the gig and did it himself. I wandered downstairs during the break, just in time to hear Mandy Keawe do several songs, bought a beer for Myra, and went back upstairs. The bar was full when I got there so I joined Rick Ermshar's table and had fun teasing Matt Swalinkavich about his beard. At one point Matt picked up KM's pen which had somehow fallen out of my backpack and handed it to me. Sheez, losing bracelets, almost losing that pen? Losing it.

And even more so after leaving the Regent. I took the bus to Ala Moana, was waiting on the bus stop bench for a bus to the hacienda, and went to sleep. I must have slept an hour or so and then fell off the bench, cracking my head open over the left eyebrow and dripping blood all over John's white shirt. Adding insult to (real) injury, after staggering down to the bench, I found Rocky had taken my bench next to Mondo. Mondo was still awake, grinned and shrugged as he looked over at the sleeping Rocky. It was okay, I needed some sleep uninterrupted with Mondo-gazing.

Yep, these are the good old days.

188

I grew up in a house of readers. Of course, we didn't have television until I was twelve years old and the main forms of at-home entertainment were radio, playing cards and reading. My mother read Modern Romance and True Story magazines and I realized at an early age that I was seeing some very bad writing indeed. My father read Dale Carnegie and Readers' Digest, National Geographic and Popular Mechanics. I learned to read long before formal schooling began and consequently had long since read everything which eventually became assigned reading. I loved to read and re-read so that didn't bother me. I think the only book I resented being forced to read in school was "Silas Marner", an excruciatingly dull book. My childhood favorites were the Oz series, "Swiss Family Robinson" and "Huckleberry Finn" and I read them over and over again, always hating to come to the end of them. That's the way I feel about Magic Mountain which, after all these weeks, is nearing its end.

After sitting in the secluded grove and reaching the point of that incredible duel between Settembrini and Naphta, I completed that bizarre narrative and started to walk back to Hamilton, spotting young Gregory sitting at a table behind Manoa Garden. He was reading Gibson's Neuromancer. He looked rather stressed and vulnerable, the result of, he said, the start of a new school year and a recent change of residence. Seeing him so subdued was wonderful for me, a chance to be in his company without experiencing the turmoil he creates in his more usual animated state. I do like that fellow very much, am grateful we met.

188a

Aside from the big one we all share, Life itself, everyone's existence is littered with dead-end streets and we sometimes wander down a particular cul-de-sac, even for years, despite knowing, or at least suspecting, we are going nowhere. My life now is exceptionally full of them and I am, equally exceptionally, aware of it. That might be one of the blessings of age, or it might be one of its curses. Most of my dead-ends are labeled "hazardous to the health" or "young men". So be it. I have no fixed goal, I seek no freeway to enlightenment, I wish only to remain relatively comfortable in the years left to me of this life.

If one wishes upon "first star I see tonight" and knows the "star" is a planet, does it invalidate the wish? Oh Lucifer, bright orb of the evening sky, ignore such finicky details and grant my wish. I want to see Mondo naked. It may be, no, it IS a cul-de-sac, but it's a delightful one and while it continues to meander through pleasant countryside, I'll follow it. I know there's a dead end sign ahead.

I've grumbled before about Bryant the Bartender, about his never-ceasing act which makes him incapable of having a sensible conversation even if it is only you and him at the bar. But late Friday afternoon, partly because of the Vendor who adopts the same jovially insulting style, it went too far so I'll try not to go there for awhile even though I'll dearly miss my weekly hour with Tomita-san. Cul-de-sac. The Garden and Tomita-san, too, of course, but in his case I'll walk to the, I hope not too bitter, end. Bryant did me a favor. I know that.

So the Magic Mountain is finished. In this edition there is a wonderful afterword from Mann directed at American readers. In some ways, those few pages are worth more than the 700+ pages of the novel itself.

Life has been so much richer because of Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann.

188b

Of course, there was only one thing to read after that.

Death in Venice

Fortunately, Rainbow had a copy.

I am SO jealous of the artistry Mann uses in writing about Tadzio.

189

In the eleven months (minus two days) of this long strange trip I don't think there has been a day which even comes close to matching the weirdness of the Labor Day weekend Saturday. After the timeless sprawl of Magic Mountain, Death in Venice is so richly, quickly dense that reading a few pages made me dizzy, sent me into another reality where I decided I wanted once more to go around the world. London, Paris, Venice, Rome, Delhi, Kathmandu.

Rocky changed my mind or, rather, the refreshment he offered to share did it. I had already begun to plot the strategy, to consider which patrons from the distant past might take kindly to an appeal, contribute to a fund to send an old man around this ball of dirt for a fifth time. I've tried very hard to maintain the rule of never asking for a hand-out. Last week, Mondo asked me if I had tried asking for money from tourists in Waikiki, thought I'd have some success at it. I told him I'd rather hunt down shopping carts than ask a stranger for a quarter. He said he wouldn't ask strangers for money, either, but "friends are different". No, not for me. I did get worried about my bill at LavaNet a few months ago and asked a reader to help, was deeply grateful for her kind assistance then, and again a second time when I yet again let that obligation slide for too long and she stepped in without my asking. I sent a sassy, intended-in-jest email to a treasured friend in California who has an extremely well-paid temporary job wondering why "he no give to me". He grumbled but shared a little of his good fortune. Exceptions to the rule of not asking for hand-outs.

I'd had enough of on-line life, and decided to pay a call on the invalid Kory K, bedridden and at home all week from muscular problems and a bad back. His idea of sleeping on a firm surface was to put a thick, soft mattress on the floor (in front of the teevee, of course). I recommended a wooden bench and a massage, preferably by someone whose touch would not arouse other interests. No, not by me, that would have far too complex undertones. With the help of his bottle of Jack Daniels, I did quite well playing Jeopardy, could have bought my round-the-world ticket if I'd really been on the show.

Leaving his comfortable nest, I took the bus to Ala Moana. Nothing to eat. That's when I realized I hadn't eaten anything since Friday evening when I'd used some McD's gift certificates and had two junk "deluxe" hamburgers. Why can't someone from McD's stop in Jack-in-the-Box, order a Jumbo Jack and see how a decent 99-center burger is made?

Anyway, I hadn't eaten and there was nothing readily available to eat so I muttered "what the fuck" (as I am wont to do now and then), walked down to 7-Eleven and bought a Mickey's, even though I'd been entertaining the idea all day, even while sipping Kory K's JD, of giving up the booze for awhile.

The hacienda was empty, all mine. I thought I'd listen to some music but the batteries in my Walkman had died. I couldn't even listen to the four cassettes I'd found earlier at Holmes Hall, lectures on the Origin of the Universe. "What the fuck," I muttered again, and sat looking at the almost-full moon and that brilliantly shining Lucifer of the evening sky.

Rocky, Mondo, and the Sleeptalker walked up the path. Mondo had been absent on Friday night and even though I had cautioned myself, reminded me that he is sometimes not there for weeks, I had been both dismayed and relieved by his absence, but was of course even more delighted to see him after 48 hours. The Sleeptalker is growing a beard, transforming him from an adorable faun to an even more adorable young satyr. Only Thomas Mann, with his outrageously beautiful descriptions of Tadzio, could do the Sleeptalker justice. Mondo gave me a cigarette and claimed his stake on the bench behind me. Rocky said he had something more interesting to offer, so we all moved to outside benches and the Sleeptalker coughed more than I did.

Auwe. That's one of my favorite Hawaiian words. Never mind the official translation, for me it equals "ohmygawd". What a fine harvest this year on the Big Island.

So I changed my mind. I'm too old and, more to the point, too damned lazy to go around the world again. Everything I want in life is here, especially wrapped up in a beautiful brown Hawaiian package called Mondo.

190

A reader who is a natural born worrier and would find some reason to fret no matter what I do really topped herself on Sunday with an imagined scenario almost straight out of Suddenly Last Summer. I must be careful lest I turn the hacienda boys into a raging mob which beats me senseless, not quite as dramatic as being eaten alive on a beach but then I never aspired to be T. Williams. I assured her the scenario is highly unlikely. She advanced the notion that I couldn't keep my hands off Mondo, an extravagant exaggeration. A pat on the head, a couple of pats on the shoulder, fingers touching when exchanging smokes ... hardly the stuff to turn a gentle, well-mannered young man into raging rough trade nor would Rocky, I think, find it cause to arouse his protective instincts to violence, even when at his most drunken surliness.

When I was thinking about it later, it made me very discouraged with the Tales that I've done such a poor job of documenting the changes, of getting across what seems to me the feeling of fellowship which gradually comes to exist within a nomadic band. Of course, Mann complains of his writing being misunderstood and misinterpreted, as does Hesse (especially in the case of Steppenwolf). Judging by what they say, even their most admiring readers (including me) fail to perceive their work in the way they had intended. So I told myself I shouldn't feel discouraged, just go on telling the story as I see it. But I did for a time consider ending them.

I had gone to a play at the UH Ernst Theatre Lab with a friend and it was such an awful bore I decided I'd rather sit outside and read until the play was over. There comes a time when you awaken to the understanding that life is beautiful and any moment of it you spend feeling bored is perhaps the greatest sin of all, never more so than spending it in the pursuit or worship of "culture". After all, this awakening is the foundation of this long strange trip I embarked on eleven months ago.

Yes, today is the eleven month mark. Were it not for the Tales, I doubt I'd know that. And were it not for online life, I'd probably sink totally into the timelessness of the Magic Mountain, not knowing what day, what month, even what year it was, and not caring.

So I went downhill, got a Mickey's, and returned to campus, sat at the bottom of the hill behind Kennedy Theatre, drank, smoked and waited for everyone to achieve freedom from the hell of boring drama. Then we went to Kapiolani Park where Helen R and her friends were still launching rockets, and I was reminded I had missed the Okinawan Festival for the first time in years. I hadn't eaten anything at all in 48 hours, so dinner afterwards at KFC was a culinary delight.

It was suggested we then watch a film on videotape but I was feeling utterly exhausted, even more so since that was the moment for the Suddenly Last Summer discussion, so begged leave to go "home" instead.

Two newcomers arrived shortly after I did, dopers I'd guess and not on a particularly useful drug, more Hotel Street types than is usual for the hacienda. They were engaged in loud, dull conversation so I moved to an outside bench, put in the earplugs and went to sleep, not even waking when the Boys arrived, only smiling in the morning when I saw Rocky, Mondo and the Sleeptalker lined up on the three inside benches nearest my outside one. Sleeping ten feet away from Mondo is considerably less distracting than being three feet away.

I felt pretty awful on Labor Day morning, physically, yet for no reason I could specify aside from the left elbow being very uncomfortable after a few days of near normality, but my inner mood was good enough. A can of Bud Light was the only reward from the beergardens, and after coffee I enjoyed that by the beach despite an unusual plague of tiny gnat-like insects swarming over the road and landing all over every surface now and then.

Tobacco had been unusually scarce so I returned to the mall before nine. I was making the rounds of the ashtrays when someone in a dark Mercedes sedan beeped and called my name.

It was the Young Doctor from the Clinic. No, he hasn't made a meteoric rise in automotive circles, it was his mother's car, being used to transport stuff to Magic Island for a picnic to which I was invited. We had said "good to see you" simultaneously to each other, may need to work a little on the harmony, but it was the first time in ages I've had that experience of saying exactly the same thing to someone as they were saying it to me and I regarded it as an omen of the first order.

So I had another beer, MGD instead of Mickey's since it's even cheaper right now, and went over to Magic Island. The Young Doctor in tee shirt, surfer shorts, barefoot with skateboard. Have I mentioned ... yes, I remember, I have, I've probably said all I can say about that man already. Dame Fortune was kind beyond measure in arranging that "accidental" encounter at the mall. In the recent exercise in list making, the YD would be right off the scale.

I knew some of the people from the Clinic and was introduced to their friends and families, including several totally delightful children. The psychiatrist arrived (the YD's father), then his mother and sister. Perhaps one of the most bizarre aspects of this trip is the switch between such utterly opposite shades of the social spectrum, from hanging with the hacienda boys to a family picnic. The YD had evidently told his colleagues at the Clinic about the Tales (although he did not say whether he has ever carried out his declared intention to read them), so I was questioned about that and their reaction was the usual one of seeing it as something rather brave. I think I'd find it easier to wholeheartedly agree with someone who told me I'm a damned fool for doing it.

The YD was replacing one of the "trucks" on his skateboard and kindly initiated me into the correct terminology after I referred to it as an axle. Like Mondo, he was very interested in the campus phenomenon of boardless skateboarding, even to wondering if he could identify the particular model of Nikes which Mondo had mentioned as being especially suitable. A strange, totally charming boy exists within that young doctor, as different from the doctor as his professionally elegant wardrobe is from his picnic casualness, and I realized the YD and Mondo would probably have no trouble at all carrying on a lively conversation of great interest to them both.

I got to watch him briefly on the skateboard, running around in an informal football match but, alas, despite much urging, he didn't take his longboard into the water. I should have asked where he normally surfs but was behaving myself, not that his wise Papa could have failed to notice my restrained gazing.

Food was outrageously abundant and I had more to eat during my time there than in all of last week, sincerely declining with thanks the invitation to take more of it with me when I left. I stayed for three highly enjoyable hours until some of the others began to leave and I thought it better manners for an unexpected guest to also go on his way. The YD encouraged me to stop by the office sometime, offered to resume the Paxil treatment.

After another MGD and replenishment of the tobacco supply, I returned to see if I could help with the packing-up but they had departed. Then came one of the most magical moments of my nine years on this island. The huge, red sun was just about to touch that line between the blue of the ocean horizon and the blue of the sky. The man I heard some months ago in Waikiki playing an Asian version of the violin had set up his modest sound gear and at the moment the sun touched the horizon began to play the love song from Titanic. The heartouchingly plaintive tone of that instrument and the musician's elegantly pure phrasing, in so magnificent a setting, for once justifed that much overused word. It was indeed awesome.

191

The Hotel Street Duo are the worst ever new neighbors in the 'hood. Whatever drug they are on (large white oblong pills, as I saw when one of them spilled his prescription container) seems to keep them in a highly remote connection to reality. They frequently get up, take a few steps and just stand there in a daze, probably having forgotten whatever it was they had intended to do. They were more subdued on their second night in residence, had moved over one of the benches facing each other to the inner row so they had the two facing, very close together, which caused a subtly raised eyebrow when Rocky later walked in and glanced over at them, then at me. I just grinned and shrugged slightly. One of them had earlier walked over to the Snorer and said something, couldn't hear since I had disappeared into music, the Snorer gave a vague wave toward the street and the fellow staggered off down the path, remained gone for over half an hour.

The Duo had gone to sleep (or passed out) by the time Rocky, Mondo and the Sleeptalker arrived together. Rocky was in a jovial mood, greeted me with a cheerful "howzit!" and asked if I'd spent the day at UH. I explained that it had been closed down for the holiday and said a few words about the picnic. The Sleeptalker tossed his backpack on the bench behind me, so Mondo grabbed the one behind Rocky, seemed in a very pensive mood and said nothing after giving me a smile and a slight wave when arriving. The Sleeptalker wandered off for awhile and I was grateful he changed his mind when he returned and took the bench behind his first choice, leaving one vacant between us. He sleeps in just his shorts, much of the time with his hand stuck down the front of them, a little too distracting no matter how delightful. I settled down to sleep, getting out the earplugs to block the already starting snoring. At around three, the Duo came to and had a very annoying conversation punctuated with a horrible slurred he-he-he from one of them, and I noticed they were making a real mess of their corner with junk tossed on the floor, guessed they wouldn't bother to clean it up the next morning either. I got the earplugs better adjusted to block them out and went back to sleep. One of them was still asleep when I awoke, as were the Boys, the other was just sitting there staring blankly into space.

Empty beergardens, senior coffee, a quick shower all on my own (gratefully, since I wasn't in the mood for anything more than a wash), and up to campus. I'd only been there about five minutes when I crossed paths with Timothy, considerably brightening my mood, and noticed a new lotus had blossomed, brightening it even further. I [heart] UH Manoa.

Perhaps one of the best defenses against getting too engrossed in any one obscure object of desire (yeh, okay, I ripped that phrase off) is making sure to stay surrounded by lots and lots of them. There's a new young nomad at Ala Moana who definitely qualifies and I embarked on yet another subtle campaign to get to know a stranger. It's a pity he doesn't seem to smoke, since offering a cigarette is a perfect, easy first step. I first saw him early on Tuesday morning, spotted him again when I went to the mall for lunch, and the third time on Wednesday morning when he was sitting eating some Reese peanut butter cups. At least I know what candy to offer him.

Although there is an abundance of food and tobacco on campus there is also an abundance of human bodies, often standing around the damned ashtrays. So after keying-in Tale 190 which had been written with pen and paper, I left campus and returned to the mall where there was a shopping cart waiting at the bus stop and two plate lunch boxes kindly placed on a ledge. They were nearly full of sweet-and-sour chicken, rice and macaroni salad, so I had a huge lunch and filled my casserole container with the leftovers for later. Another shopping cart brought me within twenty cents of a bottle of Mickey's, so I stuck around for one more cart, walked down to the 7-Eleven and bought the brew and took it over to the park to enjoy while finishing Death in Venice (with the unsought and unwelcome company of numerous flies which seem to be thriving altogether too much at Ala Moana this year, bringing back memories of Rishikesh).

I started working on the Tale of Cooper Square, the first expansion of the Artist Trip. If it weren't for the Tales, I'd be unlikely to remember what I did last week, so recalling details from forty years ago is no easy task.

Then I returned to campus for awhile, checked email, yawned through Usenet and read JT's new entry. Ah, we enter a lovelorn period it would seem. We've been through those with most of the journal keepers and my guess is JT will pull it off with more style than most. He wrote nothing about the meeting which the other three of us didn't fail to document, guess he thought the subject had received more than enough coverage already.

After sunset I took the bus to Waikiki to check out some information for someone. The way places are appearing and disappearing in this town lately, it's never safe to recommend anything unless you've checked on it within the past ten days. Dame Fortune rewarded my effort with an almost full pack of cigarettes someone had lost near my destination, a fortunate find indeed since I got to the hacienda and found Rocky and Mondo had brought two young lads home with them, both pleading for cigarettes the moment I walked in. I assume Mondo had them primed with news of a crazy old man who saves virgin cigarettes for cute young dudes.

The Hotel Street Duo were mercifully not in the house. "Where are the twins?" I asked, gesturing at their corner. Rocky thought that was so funny I understood something better than tobacco had been a part of their evening, a suspicion confirmed when one of the strays repeatedly got fits of the giggles and the other one collapsed on a bench sound asleep.

Mondo had obviously very expensive new shoes, new shiney sweatpants and a new plaid long-sleeved shirt. Rocky had a similar new shirt, no doubt a gift from his young protege. I thought that if I were creating a fictional work with Mondo as the central character, I'd explain his situation with a trust fund from his maternal grandparents yielding a monthly income, resented by his father and creating even more tension when the poor little rich boy decided to drop out and become a beach bum wearing expensive shoes and hanging out with dubious street boys. It might be a more accurate definition than I know, but I'm not likely to find out since it goes into areas of questioning I wouldn't enter uninvited.

I notice Mondo is as quiet and reserved with his young buddies as he is with me. He smiles a lot and occasionally gives his soft, gentle laugh, but rarely says anything. I asked how it was he didn't have cigarettes for his young friends and he said he was trying to give them up (perhaps an excuse to avoid an evening of providing two other people with smokes, perhaps not). I gave the two lads cigarettes from my found pack but said it was butts after that, which Rocky again found very funny.

The Snorer was already sawing away and the Airport Refugee came in and settled down, so I gave the boys a box with about ten lengthy "shorts" in it, put in my earplugs and went to sleep. One of the strays evidently left afterwards, the other woke up at the same time I did and walked out with me. I gave him another smoke, he asked if I was going to IHS and I said no, I'd never been there, was headed to Ala Moana. I asked him why he was getting up so early and he said, "I'm going home!". Ah, another tourist in the world of benches.

192

Well, I did it, stayed away from the Garden at lunchtime on Thursday even though Tomita-san was supposed to be there and would undoubtedly have bought me a beer. The beer would have been almost as welcome as seeing Tomita-san, after empty beergardens and only pennies left in the pocket. But I was determined, and to make sure I didn't at the last minute yield to temptation, left campus and went to the mall, stayed there until I knew Tomita-san would be gone and on his way to work.

I may be a collector of people but Rocky is way out ahead of me on that score. I saw him Wednesday in the mall around lunchtime. He was so engrossed in a conversation with yet another cutie, heretofore unseen, that they walked right past without Rocky seeing me. It's a pity he didn't bring that one home instead of the not-at-all cute, very dull stray he did add to the long list of people he has dragged to the hacienda.

I'd managed to find enough carts for a beer, went to the hacienda shortly after sunset and enjoyed the beer while reading and amending a print-out I'd done earlier of the expanded "artist trip" Tale. The BLD and his lady were back, her settled down already as usual and him with headphones on for the first time. After a delicious hour of peace and quiet, the Snorer arrived and rather than leave the BLD alone, got his attention and they started in on one of their loud extraordinarily boring conversations. I put music on to block them out. Like so many nomads, they are both surprisingly well-spoken and literate but have absolutely nothing of any interest to say. And the Snorer had said he had to get up early in the morning, so I don't know why he pushed the BLD's button, he knows the BLD is difficult to shut up once he starts talking. Their session seemed to be winding down though, at last, so I put away the radio and prepared for sleep when Rocky walked up the path with the new stray. The stray, alas, knew the Snorer, so a whole new dialogue began, even more boring than the first. My patience exhausted, I nodded a subtle farewell to the Airport Refugee who returned it sympathetically, and went on my way.

It had been a clear evening but the sky had begun to cloud over, it was too late for a bus to the Cloisters, so I decided to take a risk and sleep on an unsheltered bench in the small park off South Street. A dream of someone telling me it was going to rain and that rain was predicted all through the following day did nothing to make my sleep more restful. I'd only been asleep a couple of hours when I was awakened by yet another boring loud conversation. Two men had pulled up in vans at the end of the park, had folding armchairs with them, and were sitting there drinking from cans in the small hours of the morning! Why they had to talk so loud they could be heard for a block is a mystery, but I packed up and walked on to Ala Moana. Although there was an occasional very light sprinkle, it stayed dry and I curled up on one of those tiny benches facing the beach, in company with two lads already there, and slept until joggers and yakking walkers woke me up around 4:30. The memorable dream of that session took place in a boat crossing a very stormy English Channel and I was somewhat surprised to find myself still alive.

Because the campus is so incredibly crowded at midday, I've adjusted my routine to include an early morning visit, then lunch at the mall (whether to abstain from visiting the Garden or not), and a late afternoon return to campus for another online session and a final round of the ashtrays after the army of cleaners and many of the students have departed. Lunch on Thursday was bountiful. A bowl of ramen made up of two abandoned half-bowls, three containers of excellent fried rice with egg and vegetables (the casserole filled for later from the collection), and some beef and noodles stir-fry. I had a freebie voucher for a medium soft drink from McD's, so it was quite a feast. Then I crossed over for an uneventful shower, made one more round in quest of carts without success and returned to campus.

In the morning, an announcement had appeared on the bulletin board asking for donors willing to give a pint of whole blood in exchange for $50, part of a medical school research project. So I went over to use Kory K's phone and volunteered. The young lady said they'd had so many responses it might be two weeks before I am scheduled for my turn, since she is arranging to take them in order received. I guess I'm not the only person strolling campus who can use $50 more than a pint of blood.

192a

Dame Fortune was brutal on Thursday. Despite being at the mall during lunchtime and early afternoon, with another visit in early evening, not one shopping cart was left unreturned. But Madame, please, I haven't even got Friday morning's quarter! She ignored me. So I had to cheat. It wasn't so bad to start with because I saw one of my favorite workers go into McD's, come out with a small coffee, quickly drink it and leave the cup in the ashtray rim of a trashcan. Nice man, to leave it there instead of tossing it inside. So the cup was due a refill anyway, and slut that I am, I enjoyed the coffee even more knowing whose lips had been touching the lid before me. But then I was baaadddd and took the cup back in for yet another refill. I'm such a creature of habit, a Pavlov cat, that I'm addicted to those two cups of coffee each morning.

For the first time in months, I spent the night at the cloisters. It was refreshing, if somewhat boring, to spend the night amidst a community of nomads who are dedicated loners. They rarely speak to each other. The most I get from any of them is a slight nod from one I've seen almost every day since this trip began and who usually has the bench next to mine at the cloisters. So once the meetings being held in various rooms at the cloisters end (around nine o'clock), the place is wonderfully quiet except for the dull roar of nearby traffic. No social club there. But no Rocky, no Mondo, no Sleeptalker either, alas.

At a time when the highlights of most days center around one young man or another, as on Wednesday when an email arrived from a major player in the Tales of this year with "the dish of a young doctor" under his name at the end, it was amusing to have something completely different on Thursday. As quoted in "readers write", a reader who had been given a preview look at the revised and expanded "artist trip" commented:

: As it is, it reads sort of like a name-dropping catalogue,
: without a clear focus.

I felt like clapping my hands and doing a little dance but didn't want to add even more hubbub to the chaos which is often a feature of life at Hamilton Library in this season of newbies. As I replied: "That's an absolutely perfect summary of my life in the first half of the Sixties", and so it is.

The reader also complained that some of the sentences were too long and complex. Freely admitting that I must be, willingly or unwillingly, under the influence of Thomas Mann after reading little but his writing for several months, I reread the revised tale with that in mind. Yes, I agree, but as I told the reader, I'm not writing for the MTV/South Park crowd, if they can't cope let 'em watch teevee.

Who am I writing for? Me, myself and I. And if I can cope with Mann's sometimes very complex structures, I can easily manage my far less daunting (or significant) rambles.

I ran into Louis from Rio at the mall in the evening, first time I'd seen him in some days. He had forgotten the URL for the Tales again, so complained of lagging a few days behind, again flattered me enormously with his generous praise of them and for my daily production of "art". So gallant, those South American gentlemen!

As I told him, yes, I guess it's an accomplishment, producing something every day, but "art"? I think not, but it doesn't matter.

193

"Can I have a sip?" asked Rocky. "Sure," I said and handed him the just-opened bottle of Mickey's, smiling as the internal jukebox started to play "Everything I have is yours ...". I did try to continue my escape from the hacienda. When I fled the utter madness of the downtown street party, a University bus was just arriving at the stop. I jumped on it and headed for the cloisters. No room in the inn. Every bench taken and, worse, a large gathering was still going on in one of the meeting rooms. So I shrugged, resigned myself to my fate and got back on a bus.

Rocky and Mondo were on the two benches facing each other. "Curiouser and curiouser," said Alice. Even curiouser, I awoke at about three and Rocky had moved to the bench in front of me and the Sleeptalker was on the bench behind me, his slim beautiful bare chest such a treat for the eyes and his tentpole sweetly elevating the front of his colorful shorts. Okay, I was grateful there had been no room at the inn.

But I'd already reached that stage earlier when Mondo, who had greeted me only with a smile and a little wave, took his shirt off for me. I know, I tend to see things in a very egocentric way sometimes, but how else to interpret him standing up, turning around at a slight angle so as to directly face me, smile and take off his shirt, stretch, then turn around again and sit down? Sweet. I guess when you wish on a planet instead of a star, half your wish comes true.

In terms of tentpole size, Rocky is the definite champion, followed by Mondo, then the Sleeptalker. For cuteness the order is exactly reversed. The Sleeptalker is just plain adorable. But charisma ... Mondo is tops. He was serious about giving up cigarettes. I'm happy for him but I miss that opportunity of doing something for him. There's nothing he needs I can give him now but admiring glances and it was clear on Friday night that he enjoys being admired.

I thought of Lawrence Durrell, one of my favorite writers when in my late teens. The Hacienda Quartet may never reach the levels of his Alexandria one, but it is certainly a most interesting study in group dynamics. And I realized more clearly than before on Friday night that it has indeed become a quartet. Rocky has made it so, and he is the Leader. Like the others, I willingly put myself at his service. But Mondo, there too, he stands apart. Rocky was trying to persuade Mondo to "be available" for some music event on Monday. Mondo was noncommital. I would have agreed immediately and I'm pretty sure the Sleeptalker would have, too. But it isn't time for the quartet to play outside the hacienda. Yet.

I had spent most of the morning working on the technical and organizational elements of the Tales, combining them into larger groupings and still pondering the exact nature of the indexing and linkage. In the process of doing it, I was surprised to see how dominant a leit motiv Rocky is through so much of it, delighted to stumble on the description of Mondo I'd written the day after I'd given him that name.

I left campus in the early afternoon, went to the mall where a shopping cart was waiting at the bus stop, returned it for the quarter, and went over to the park for a shower and to wash a shirt. The nomad I admired for his relaxed attitude about his small equipment came in. He had gotten a haircut, very very short, almost shaved. I told him it looked great and got a big grin in reply. He wants to have sex or at least to be served. I'm sure of it, but he has to make a more deliberate signal. With nomads far more than anyone else, I will not take any initiative. That's what makes the recent Suddenly Last Summer scenario discussion even more absurd.

Then I went to a certain downtown watering hole to meet some friends for the street party (Ho'olaulea will mean nothing to many readers). I omit the name of that establishment because I think they were watering down their booze. There's no way three shots of 1800 with beer chasers, after 24 hours without food, could have so little effect. And even if I underestimate my degree of intoxication (which at least one member of the party would no doubt suggest), I know what an 1800 hangover feels like, and I didn't have even a hint of one. No matter, it tasted damned good even if it didn't have the kick.

Nathan, the sweetest most-huggable man I know, was there, Yvette and her delightful brother, Keali`i, the Dolphin, Helen R, and the Nameless One. After some amusing discussions of various online subjects, a stained dress, and my indiscretion about a certain recent disagreement with a person (Nathan wisely telling me I had overreacted), we strolled off together into the madness. The first musicians I recognized were the ladies of Na Leo Pilimehana who were trying to sing one of their more ghastly saccharine numbers despite a truly horrendous sound system. It got worse. Some old lady shoved me and chewed me out because my backpack was in her way. There was horrible seventies disco music booming away at the Hotel Street corner, so loud it intruded on the stages to either side of it. Amy Hanaiali`i looked utterly bored and unhappy to be there with the gusting wind in her hair and Willie K outdid himself in picking inappropriate material for their gig. The Nameless One decided to make a quick trip to change clothes, I was going to go along and drink a fast beer while she did it but was told I wouldn't have time, so went to that seedy Players bar, drank one, and was back before the Nameless One. Nathan had to leave to pick up a friend at the airport, Hapa was about to take the stage, so I fled out, dropping everything. No, no, that's MUD2. But I did flee, taking the accursed backpack with me.

So much for the start of Aloha Week 1998.

After that delightful night at the hacienda, I lingered on an outside bench for a wake-up smoke, enjoying the Three Jewels sleeping and was treated to a tentpole demonstration by Mondo. Make my day, dude, even before the sun rises.

There's one thing about life on Oahu the phrase "seen one, seen 'em all" definitely applies to and that's the annual Aloha Week parade. I was still feeling overdosed with crowds from the street party so decided I'd leave the neighborhood until the parade was over. But ... never mind lions, tigers and bears. Sailors, Marines and Airmen, oh my. I took the refill of my senior coffee over to the park and found myself surrounded after a few minutes by the Punahou band in their classy uniforms, the Navy band, the Marines and a bunch of flyboys. One sweetheart of a young sailor, loose around the ankles and tight around the ass, walked past my table and wished me a good morning. Okay, it was the best Aloha Week parade I've seen, my ninth one.

And despite the insanity of the opening party, methinks this will be a fine and most memorable Aloha Week. As they say, something tells me ...

194

Mondo the Elf.

I'm not sure who was the most surprised, but I think I get the award. Astounded, more like. It was a close contest, though. I could read his face and it said "what's an old dude like you know about MUDs?". HA! My son, I was a MUD wizard when you were only nine years old. No, I didn't say that, but I certainly thought it.

Mondo and the Sleeptalker play in a multi-player online game. For a totally delicious hour or so, it was just us at the hacienda. They came in together, both shirtless. The Sleeptalker is definitely aware of my appreciation for his beautiful body and was quite flirtatious, jumping up and striking poses, grinning broadly at me while Mondo sat smiling at the performances. Then the Sleeptalker pulled out an unfurled condom and waved it around. Mondo said, "it's too small", and even though I knew better I certainly wasn't going to contradict him. I got one of the grape-flavored condoms out of my backpack and gave it to the Sleeptalker and they both thought that quite hilarious. The Sleeptalker sat down and started playing what looked like "air piano" but, as I soon learned, it was a computer keyboard he was "playing" on.

I don't know the particular version they both play but I know the family, so to speak, the MIST genre. It's not a variety I much admire, thoroughly inferior to Bartle's MUD2, but I'm delighted those two young men spend time at the State Library pursuing success in an online fantasy world. I recommended Hamilton, but the Sleeptalker has no bus pass so UH isn't as convenient.

They had a lengthy, lively conversation about their online lives, the most I have ever heard Mondo say. I had such a deja vu experience it made my mind reel. Yes, I'd been there before, in London, listening to young Russell talk about MUD2. Without the friendship and help of Russ, I doubt I would ever had made Wizard, and when I broke my usual habit of not meeting online friends in so-called real life and invited Russell to dinner at a Chelsea restaurant, his conversation was such a mirror of Mondo's that, as I said, my mind reeled.

Mondo gave up giving up cigarettes. So I supplied him with smokes all evening and left two in a book of matches in his shoe when I departed Sunday morning. Something I can give him, and at last a topic of conversation he can enthusiastically enjoy ... it was an advance of the first order.

He had been sitting on the bench behind me, the Sleeptalker on the bench across from us, but then Mondo said something I didn't understand and left, treacherously crossed the highway against the lights. I had a moment of utter dread, remembering that chicken I watched die in the middle of University Avenue, feeling a hint of the horror I would have suffered had Mondo been hit by a car. Happily, he made it, but as the song says, "my heart stood still."

When he returned, an utterly crashing bore of a man was with him, to Mondo's clear displeasure. The man was Haute Bourgeoisie, had a bag of things to eat and proceeded to stuff his mouth speaking all the time, a Great White Pig of a human being. I scolded myself, reminded me about compassion for all living beings. No success. It was bad enough our wonderful time alone together, just me, Mondo and the Sleeptalker had ended -- that was certain to happen eventually -- but to be ended by such a caricature of manhood was insufferable. Mondo had tentatively sat down on a bench a few away, the Sleeptalker settled on the bench behind Mondo's original position (behind me) and took out a book from his backpack, started to read. The Great White Pig moved to the bench behind me! "Say what!" I said, and moved, as the Sleeptalker gave a subtle chuckle. The GWP didn't notice, still busily stuffing things into his mouth and babbling on. I moved again, to an outside bench. Soon Mondo stopped being a polite, obviously bored, listener, and went over to one of the benches facing each other and settled down to sleep.

My cue. So for the first time, Mondo and I shared the tete-a-tete of the two facing benches. Heaven only knows what Rocky thought when he came in very late, after we'd all gone to sleep, but I don't think he would have minded. He knows I love Mondo. After all these months, though, I think he trusts me, as I do him.

Today you win, Kundun, tomorrow you may lose.

And you haven't lived until you've died in MUD.

194a

Having worked for what was then, may still be, one of the giants in the whoredom called "American Advertising", Young & Rubicam, I've remained keenly aware of that dubious line of human activity. So I noticed in recent days a subtle campaign letting us know "a Hurricane is headed your way".

The Hurricane is a malt liquor. They were rather stupid not to introduce it at a price a few cents below the norm of $1.99 for 40oz., especially when you can, at least temporarily, get a MGD for $1.79, but the fact is, it's a very decent brew.

I'm known in the trade as a "brand loyal" person, but sometimes even we steadfast folks waver and change. Thanks, Mickey's, you were great. Hello, Hurricane.

I was sipping on a bottle of that excellent liquid when I encountered Kory K and his new girlfriend. She stepped on my foot, but hey, can put up with Kory K, I forgave her everything. He claimed she was his "most obedient" girlfriend yet, but when she almost literally dragged him off, I had to wonder.

194b

The Lady in Red was VERY angry with me, harangued me at length even after saying three times she would say no more.

My mind echoed the trey by being in three places at once. One part was still trying to remember the words to the hymn, "In the Garden".

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the meadow
And the voice I hear, ringing in my ear
The ..........

Another third was back with the young fellow in nicely pressed chinos and a starched white shirt who wanted to talk with me about Jesus of Nazareth.

And the final third, inspired by the moment, was thinking of Spinoza. You get back what you give out. Okay, you want anger? I'll give it to you. So I gave the Lady in Red my best simulation of anger. Like I wrote not long ago, I'm too lazy to really get mad anymore, but I can still pretend.

So I was late. To my way of thinking, Jesus of Nazareth is the most important personage of this millenium and the one preceding it. If some earnest young person, cute dude or otherwise, wants to talk to me about him, I'll stop and listen, even if I miss my bus, even if I'm late for an appointment.

No, I'm not a "Believer", but if someone could convince me, I'd be eternally in their debt.

195

I look forward to the change that comes every two weeks or so of the big photos in the Guess shop at the mall. They've had some real winners this summer. So I was disappointed when the current display appeared, omitting the usual male poster, its space wasted on a jeans sale announcement. But the Marines to the rescue. They've put a huge new banner up in their recruiting office which is guaranteed to brighten my mornings as I walk past it.

After abandoning the ill-starred plan to spend Sunday evening in "polite society", I returned to the mall in search of something to eat, watched the beautiful sunset from the beach and went on to 7-Eleven for a Hurricane. When I got to the hacienda, the Airport Refugee was already asleep, the Snorer just arriving, too. Rocky and the Sleeptalker strolled up the path, both in a very lively mood. Rocky asked for a "sip" of the beer again so I handed him the bottle, he filled my flask and then realized it wasn't the usual Mickey's. So everyone had to taste the new beer and that was the end of that bottle. No matter. The Sleeptalker got even more lively after his "sip" though, jumping around and striking poses again. He's such a funny, sweet fellow.

He told me I should go to IHS to eat, that the food is very good and you can get there anytime within the hour each meal is served. The Snorer didn't think the food there was that good, but then he works in a restaurant. All agreed IHS is a terrible place to stay, though, "full of thieves". It is surprising to me how honest the nomads are. The Old Cougher often passed out leaving his pack of Marboros on the floor under his bench but no one touched them. In jail they would have been pocketed immediately.

The conversation was rambling on, the Sleeptalker had started out on the bench behind me but moved over closer to the Snorer, Rocky disappeared into his music, and I went to sleep without bothering about earplugs, again thinking of life in jail where eventually the mind figured out how to ignore the ever present noise, a knack I need to recultivate.

No sign of Mondo but when I woke up around three, he was on the bench behind me, wearing his black jeans again with white boxer shorts. He hasn't been carrying his backpack recently, told me on Saturday he'd left it in his "locker". I don't know why I didn't ask him where the locker was, since I do wonder. But then I goofed even bigger, should have asked him to write the address of their MUD in my book, as much to have something there from his hand as to know the site.

And who knows, maybe it is time to visit IHS for a meal, see how the Quartet plays outside the hacienda.

195a

A friend and reader wrote on Monday morning that he felt concerned about me. Me, too, although perhaps "concerned" is too grave a word. I'm more curious than concerned. For as long as I've been in this strange adventure I've had in the back of my mind the thought that I could end it at any time, return to "normal" life. I've never been seriously tempted to do that but now, for the first time, I begin to have some doubts that I could ever want to do it. I still think I could do it, although it might mean a return to Paxil or some similar crutch and it would almost certainly need the help of friends. None of that is impossible, of course.

Perhaps one of the reasons I am reluctant to even have a meal at IHS is that symbolically it crosses a Rubicom, or Delaware. Those are dedicated Homeless, some Nomads obviously among them, but there is a difference.

And as the one-year mark approaches, I find myself more and more alienated from the Householders. An historic dichotomy, indeed, but up to now I have more or less managed to keep one foot proverbially on either side of the fence. Surrendering that position don't come easy.

196

Even without clocks and calendars, I'd know the one-year mark of this adventure is approaching. The Orion Clock is nearing the position it had when I first started observing it.

Speaking of clocks, I wish my handsome Japanese shower buddy were on a different schedule. Seven o'clock in the morning, after a night on the bench, is just not my favorite time for hot romance. He's such a hunk he'd be irresistable any time of the day or night, but I could get much more into the spirit of things after a lunchtime beer and an hour in the sun. At least he gets off very quickly, so it isn't an overly prolonged rendezvous even though I've tried to be more gentle with him to stretch the pleasure of his company a little bit. But at seven in the morning, I'd be just as happy with a nice long hug.

The hacienda was whacko again. The Snorer and I arrived at the same time, the only ones there, joined not long after by the Airport Refugee who, as always, quietly settled down and went to sleep. The Snorer made a slight attempt to start a conversation but I only responded briefly, got out my book and started to read. As I've said, he's a very nice man, but an utter bore. It's a close contest whether he's more boring when asleep, making that horrendous racket, or awake and re-telling one of his apparently few stories. He tells them in comic book fashion, very raucous and sprinkled with loud "pow! booms!". The Three Jewels are like little kids, happy to hear the same story over and over. And before long they arrived bringing another new stray with them. But they didn't stay long, decided to go back and watch wrestling on tv. When they returned, I was half asleep, the Snorer had said (again) that he had to get up early in the morning and had settled down, but they roused him, and with a new set of ears as an audience, he was off and running. Or at least his mouth was. Not even earplugs could block those "pow! booms!". So I got up to leave. Rocky grinned and said, "Uh-oh." I grinned back, said, "I just want to get some sleep" and walked down to Ala Moana.

It was a wonderfully clear, starry starry night and I curled up on one of the little benches facing the ocean and had a final smoke while looking at the fat crescent moon and all those stars, the sound of the ocean lapping at the sand infinitely more pleasant than the Snorer's "pow! booms!".

There had been a delightful surprise at the park earlier when the Hare Krishna folks' "Food for Life" truck arrived and they started handing out plates heaped with delicious food. They've been doing that at Kapiolani Park three days a week but I'm not all that keen on going to Waikiki in the afternoons, so had never taken advantage of it. A sign on the truck said they'd be doing it at Ala Moana now on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. There was a tastey pasta and vegetables dish, beautifully cooked rice and spinach cooked to death in the Indian fashion, but still yummy, and a very thick slice of even yummier wheat bread. People were going back for seconds, but I was stuffed after that one plate full. Although they had a jar for "donations" there was no pressure at all to add anything to it; I didn't even get close to it because one of them brought plates down the line so we didn't have to wait to actually get to the truck unless we wanted whatever drink it was they were serving (and with a Hurricane in my bag, I was doing fine with that aspect of the menu).

Several ladies had settled on the grass nearby with drums and were singing devotional songs, altogether a brilliant showing by the ISKCON local chapter, and much appreciated by the Ala Moana Nomads.

On Monday morning there had been three unopened bottles of Bud Light in my favorite beergarden. I only discovered this week which of the four clubs around that parking lot is the gay one. I'd guessed one of them was because I keep finding the local gay magazines discarded there. Maybe I'll take some of my blood money, if and when it comes, and pay the place a visit. No cover, $2 beers and male strippers.

I'd also found a pack of cigarettes with half a dozen menthols in it, tucked them away for Mondo but he had smokes so they remain in the vault. On Tuesday there was no beer anywhere, but I did find an unopened pack of Japanese cigarettes, fortunately not menthol. Strange to think a pack of cigarettes started out in Japan only to be lost in a parking lot and found by me.

I've noticed that Japanese men often make no effort at all to hide it when they get an erection (and why not, perfectly natural thing to happen). It's not often one sees an American being so casual about it, though, but a young black fellow got off the bus on Tuesday morning with it sticking straight up and slightly leaning out in his very smart linen trousers. He was the kind of black man we don't see very often here, not military, and reminded me of Patti Smith's "high asses get down" line. When I was a horny early teenager, getting a hard-on at awkward moments was one of the banes of my life. My parents had read that wearing briefs could cause impotency and even though at that stage of my life I could have used a nudge in that direction, they insisted I wear only boxer shorts. No help from them in concealing and I left the bus outside school almost every morning holding my notebook over the front of my pants. The fact that half or more of the other boys were walking the same way did nothing to lessen my discomfort. The trials and tribulations of manhood ...

I've been reading the other stories in the Thomas Mann volume that starts with Death in Venice and am in the midst of A Man and His Dog which is surely the most elegant, and eloquent, tale of the dog-man relationship ever written, a joy to read even though I have little fondness for dogs, with rare exceptions.

And in pondering what I wrote yesterday about this on-going adventure, I think the only reason my thoughts come even close to "concern" is the knowledge that there's still three-and-a-half years until Social Security starts and will make this a far more luxurious trip. That's a lot of shopping carts to return.

196a

Saw three of my favorite men on campus Tuesday. Timothy, the Freshman of the Year. Jon, the lead singer of Pure Heart. I told him I'd just been reading about him, he looked slightly alarmed, but I quickly comforted him by telling him Tracey had just posted the schedule for their upcoming gigs. And young Gregory. He was busy picking his nose, so I didn't bother him, it's such an intimate activity, really needs to be enjoyed in utter solitude.

Thomas Mann made me laugh aloud in the secluded grove which became less secluded when a Buddhist nun, a young Asian lady, and a young Asian gentleman arrived, didn't even have the good taste to occupy a bench further away from me, but alit almost at my elbow and started talking about money, the cost of tuition, etc. I moved.

197

I've survived three nights without the Three Jewels and it's Thursday again, time for Tomita-san Test Two. I considered just staying on the beach until after he would have left campus but the weather was too uncertain, with frequent sprinkles, so I girded my loins and got on a University-bound bus, still plenty of time to flee if the temptation gets too strong.

It was Helen R's birthday on Tuesday and given the choice of evening entertainment for the occasion she, of course, chose going to a film. "Ever After". A charming film, with some delightful cinematography, even if I thought the Prince decidedly lacklustre and Drew is the only Barrymore in my memory who remains unmemorable. I ate a whole box of Milk Duds, once my greatest candy passion (much appreciated by dentists whose incomes were later increased because of that sticky caramel interior). I'd considered just staying in the neighborhood after the film, but figured the cloisters would have all benches occupied, it was a clear sky again, so I went back to my tiny bench facing the ocean. Nights with no rain at all are, alas, rather rare here, but I got lucky two nights in a row and much enjoyed the stars again and the lulling sound of the ocean.

A flask full of Bud Light and a nice, new grass mat provided the cue to spend the next morning on the beach. I'm still totally delighted with my newfound ability to float so spent as much time in the water as on the sand and would no doubt have stayed much longer had not a group of Samoan ladies arrived. They were all very large, went immediately into the water, whereupon one got what appeared to be an unending case of hysterical giggling, so I gave up and went over to the shower to wash the shorts, underwear and a tee shirt, then sat at a picnic table in the sun while they dried.

I crossed over to 7-Eleven for a Hurricane, the last bottle they had. The manager asked if I liked it and got a thoroughly enthusiastic reply. I complained that the Puck's Alley 7-Eleven still didn't have it. He said they probably would get it but with Hurricane, like any new item being introduced, if sales in the first two weeks don't justify it, the item is promptly un-introduced. There shouldn't be any problem with that for Hurricane at the Ward 7-Eleven, anyway.

Back on campus, I was reading email when a sweet young man walked over and greeted me, sat on the stool next to me for a chat. It took me a couple of minutes to place him in my memory. Aha, the Bearded Cherub. But he has shaved, so he's just the Cherub now, and a most apt nickname it is, too. Poor fellow still hasn't gotten his finances sorted out and said he's been eating "a lot of eggs". He's carrying a 15-credit load this semester and writing for the campus newspaper, said the studies have gotten his head so cluttered he is having a difficult time writing, keeps doing things like "using a yellow word in a black sentence." (?!) He left for class but promptly came back, worried that a young lady sitting on a sofa near the library entrance would spot him. Seems she had fallen asleep earlier, he'd been watching her, wrote a little poem about it and slipped it in her backpack. Sweet! Then he was nervous she'd be annoyed by it. I pointed out to him that there's no way she could have known it was him, and even if she had somehow found out, she'd probably be pleased and flattered anyway, so he bravely headed off for the exit again.

I'd gone to the opening of Neiman Marcus before leaving the mall. It's such an elegant, stylish store. I was expecting that, of course, but they surpassed my expectations and later in the day the Queen Mum, the Duchess and Myra were all raving about it, too. Just what Neiman Marcus had in mind, I'm sure, becoming the favorite store of the Ala Moana Nomads.

After a brief time on campus, I went back to Ala Moana park since the Hare Krishna truck was supposed to be there again. Maybe they turned up later than they had last week but I got hungry waiting so went back to the mall. Perfect timing, because a Japanese couple were just getting up, leaving two large bowls of ramen, each more than half full. Without hesitating, I grabbed the tray and took it to another section, had a delicious lunch. Many of the Japanese seem to eat just the noodles, leaving everything else, which in this case included large chunks of turkey, bean sprouts, and broccoli.

And I finally got fed up with the way the Japanese hang around the ashtrays while they take three or four puffs from a cigarette before putting it out. By the time one batch has finished, another has taken their place, and they hover there over an ashtray laden with lengthy "shorts", a process which can continue until a Cleaning Army person arrives and destroys the treasure. So I just walked up and picked out the ones I wanted, leaving the hoverers shocked in my wake. If they don't know there are poor people in America, time they found out.

As I was walking past the Salvatore Ferragama boutique, I stopped in my tracks, my attention caught by their new window display for a perfume. Very elegant display, with the message "notice every detail" stenciled in small letters on the window. So I looked carefully, saw one of the young men who work there grinning at me, so went in and asked to smell the stuff. He sprayed a stylish card with it and handed it to, perfect style himself, treating me like I was the Duke of Windsor or something. Stuff stinks, but still, it's a great window display.

Then I bought a bottle of MGD, still on special sale for $1.79 at Foodland (with that silly Makai card which always seems to get lost in the shuffle in my wallet), and returned to campus. An evangelist has taken over the theatre at Hemenway Hall for two nights and was conducting a very lively meeting with utterly non-traditional devotional music and there were lots of shouts of "Hallelujah!" and "Amen, brother!". I haven't heard anything like that in a very long time, so sat outside and enjoyed my beer and a smoke while listening to it.

I walked down to the cloisters fairly early. There were two benches left, so I took the small one, thinking the fellow who usually has the longer one next to it would soon be along. He was too tardy, someone else came in and took it and he ended up having to sleep on the floor. The population at the cloisters has more than doubled and there is a serious risk that even all the floor space will soon be full, unless folks decide to spend VERY cosy nights together (and there's no one there who meets my criteria for that option). I've really missed the Three Jewels, but it has been refreshing to have three nights of quiet sleep.

Dame Fortune put two cans of Bud Light in my path on Thursday morning and, alas, the morning newspaper which I dutifully read.

197a

How extremely curious. I was sitting in the secluded grove reading Mann's "Tristan". A young Japanese lad arrived on his bicycle. He was wearing a white polo shirt and khaki shorts, had quite beautiful legs. He leaned over a bench near me and was busily doing something with two paper cups. I watched from the corner of my eye, so to speak. He left the cups at the end of the bench, a napkin spread over them, held in place by three twigs, one laid across the top of each cup and the third forming a crossbar resting on the other two. Then he left on his bicycle. I went over to see what was in the cups. A greenish-yellow liquid. I carefully replaced the covering napkin and twigs, which had turned the bench into an altar for some unknown religion. After a few minutes, he came back, took the two cups, leaving the twigs on the bench, and again left on his bicycle. Perhaps it was an esoteric tribute to Hildegarde of Bingen on this, her Feast Day.

198

I stayed on campus for most of the day on Thursday, going downhill for a Hurricane (which they, happily, now have at the Puck's Alley 7-Eleven), mourning the fact that it was the last two-beer day for awhile. The mind played its usual game whenever I embark on some effort at self-discipline. Is this really a legitimate exercise in self-control, or are you just proving how stubborn you can be? Shuddup, I said, we are not going to the Garden and, no, we're not going to sit outside and wait to say hello to Tomita-san either. The first Thursday in October will come eventually, no doubt sooner than you think.

I'd considered attending a 6:30 Mass in honor of Saint Hildegarde of Bingen and if I'd weakened and made it a three-beer day, probably would have lingered over the second one in the secluded grove until time to walk over to the Newman Center chapel. But the orgy of self-control continued, I reminded myself again that a beer before Friday evening's Waikiki street party will be most welcome (or if not then, certainly after it) and, most especially, reminded myself that a beer before the Dylan concert on Saturday will be even more welcome. Count the coins. Ah, a nightcap for Thursday's return to the hacienda, one beer Friday, one beer Saturday. That's it. I looked at that costly little bottle of mosquito repellent and thought I really should stop wasting money on that stuff, spend it on beer instead, and let the mosquitos get drunk feeding off me.

So I made a round of the ashtrays and took the bus to the mall, had a sunset shower with a nomad who, judging by the state of his feet, was having his annual such contact with soap-and-water, and went back to the mall hoping for a bowl of ramen. No luck. I'd found an abandoned plate lunch box, contents apparently untouched, on campus. Meat loaf, macaroni salad, rice. The bland macaroni salad instantly identified it as Marriott in origin, the meat loaf explained why it had been abandoned, but still, it did mean I wasn't all that hungry so didn't linger long at the Food Court.

I saw the nomad who has an ATM card returning a shopping cart. Sheez.

So I walked down to the Ward 7-Eleven, bought a Hurricane and continued through the Ward complexes topping up the tobacco supply and looking for anything interesting to eat, without success.

It was a thoroughly auspicious return to the hacienda. Mondo was sitting on an outside bench wearing black nylon sweatpants which looked just like a pair Rocky once wore, a long sleeved lightweight gray knit shirt which turned out to beautifully cling to his chest as well as riding up in front to reveal a strip of brown belly, a black knit ski cap pulled down over his head in the current bizarre fashion, right to the eyebrows, and heavy black leather gloves [!]. He waved, asked if I had a smoke.

We had the place to ourselves for almost an hour and a half. I learned that the locker where he keeps his stuff is in some youth center, that the black sweatpants had been Rocky's and he'd traded some blue ones for them. He asked me what I'd been doing and when I asked the question in turn, he said he'd been trying to get his life together. Getting him to say more about that wasn't easy. I don't want to fall into social worker mode, he must have had more than enough of that in his young life, but he volunteers so little information, it's really difficult to provide openings even though, as always, he seemed eager to talk about his problems but couldn't find the way to do it. He has been living on the streets four years which makes his gentle, mannerly style even more amazing. He claimed to be "fairly happy" with life but doesn't want to go on living this way for the rest of it. I had to gently point out that getting a job is undoubtedly the first step to something different, a nasty concept he smilingly agreed with.

The IHS, he said, provides no assistance in finding work which surprised me. I would have thought that a major goal for them, or do they secretly want to hang onto their "client base"? The Youth Center does help on that score, but he had some vague excuses about having to attend classes and seeing a doctor frequently not leaving him enough open time for a day job. Treading carefully, I let that pass without challenge, asked if he and Rocky had applied for jobs at KayBee which they'd said they were going to do. No, they hadn't. I said they were still looking for night stock clerks, a job even I was considering.

He took off the knit cap, thank goodness. I don't know why these local boys have adopted such a weird fashion statement, it must be very uncomfortable in this temperature. I was sitting there wishing I knew better what to say to him, even more that I had some means of pointing him to definite opportunities despite suspecting that he's really not ready yet to bite the bullet. He took his shoes off (very rare for him), then his socks, and massaged his feet. It was tempting to offer to perform the service, but I behaved myself, partly because I could just imagine the reaction if the other two Jewels walked in while I was rubbing Mondo's feet. I encouraged him to spend more time with his shoes off, give the feet a chance to breathe. He said he never goes to the beach anymore, and I encouraged him to do that, too.

Around 9:30 no one else had arrived. He said, "looks like nobody's coming down, it's just the two of us." I said, "I wish!", and he grinned, put his cap back on and lay back on the bench still smiling at me. I said, "as soon as we settle down to sleep, they'll all arrive." And sure enough, the Airport Refugee came in, silently settled down, and not much later, the Sleeptalker came in with a stranger. The Sleeptalker asked Mondo if he'd seen Rocky, Mondo said he hadn't seen him all day, he "must be Hotel". I am not sure I even want to know just what that involves, but wherever he was, Rocky didn't come home, nor did the Snorer, and everyone settled down quickly, the shirtless Sleeptalker taking the bench in front of me, Mondo behind me.

A most excellent evening at the hacienda and when I was getting ready to leave in the morning, after having spent too much time awake gazing at the sleeping Mondo and thinking about all the things we had discussed, he opened his eyes and smiled, waved goodbye.

199

I was walking through the mall with my senior coffee refill, heading for a cooler, quieter spot to enjoy it. A young black dude stomped up to me and said, "you got something to say to me?" "What?!" "You know what I mean, just be upfront about it." "I don't know what you mean." "You was trying to say something to me last night."

Ah, I realized who it was, The Shroud, the black fellow who sometimes stays at the hacienda, usually on an outside bench but when it drizzles, as it did on Friday, moves inside and sleeps on the floor. He shrouds himself in a cover with only a bit of his face showing, so I hadn't recognized him. "I was talking to [Mondo]," I said, using his real name, "the dude behind me, not to you." "Oh, you was talking to him," he said, getting a large sheepish grin like a man who realizes he has just made a fool of himself, and walked off chuckling. Poor guy must have been stewing over it all night. I had said to Mondo, "so you spent the evening all on your own?" and noticed the black guy give me an annoyed look, thought it was just because we were talking. I guess he thought I was being offensively nosey.

Mondo had, indeed, spent the evening on his own and was still alone when I got to the hacienda. He had said he'd meet up with me at the Waikiki street party but I think he had been expecting to go there with Rocky, and when he didn't run into Rocky (for the second day) decided to just hang out at the hacienda. Just as well, since I never found the stage where we were supposed to have met.

I'd gone to the mall and stayed for about half an hour of Kapena's gig before taking the bus to Waikiki. At last year's party I was meeting some people at Duke's, ended up spending the entire evening at the bar. It's the best thing to do if you're in Waikiki for one of those multi-block, multi-stage festivities, far too much madness to really enjoy the music and dancing and a huge crowd interested in neither but desperate to "party". I did stop in Duke's for a beer, probably would again have stayed all evening if I'd had the money but didn't expect the freebie to get perpetual refills so wandered out into the pandemonium. After walking from one end of the party to the other and back again, I decided I'd had enough and returned to the mall.

The opening of Neiman Marcus has the entire mall at fever pitch, the Cleaning Army like dervishes in constant motion. At one point I saw three of them, right in a row, attacking the ashtrays even though they'd just been swept clean. An older Japanese lady was just about to set down her tray with leftover ramen bowls and a cleaning woman grabbed it from her. I was almost getting twisted by it all, so broke my week-long effort at self-control.

Yes, a major exercise in discipline. A melon fell from heaven and after digging myself almost out of the hole and a shopping expedition for those useful luxuries like mosquito repellent, soap, etc., I realized there was very little chance I'd hang on to enough money to enjoy the Dylan concert suitably refreshed. The recent coin count neglected to take senior coffee into account, so I was right. But I had the unusual foresight to buy a small bottle of decent vodka and tucked it away in the backpack, tried to forget it was there, and succeeded for a week. But when I found an abandoned lemonade, complete with lemon slices and ice, it was time to break out the reserves. A most mellowing effect, that spiked lemonade, and leaving enough in the bottle for a 50ml dose for Pure Heart in the afternoon, a 100ml dose for Dylan in the evening.

And I finally got lucky, grabbed two bowls of ramen before a cleaning lady spotted them, a plate lunch box of Orleans Express food including their yummy mashed potatoes and cornbread, and a container of pasta with a slice of garlic bread. I was full by then, left the pasta in a place where a nomad was likely to find it before the cleaning foe.

Then off to the hacienda and Mondo. "What did you do today?" I asked. "Nothing." He says he really does nothing, yet doesn't get bored. If true, he's certainly more spirtually advanced than I, but that's not saying much. And as usual, he wasn't saying much either. Since I'd had such a hassle collecting those "shorts" he was happy to share, it occurred to me to suggest he spend a little time cruising by ashtrays instead of doing nothing all day, but it was a fleeting thought since I do enjoy doing things for the lazy little bugger.

I was so tired I fell asleep even before he settled down, unprecedented. I'd given him what was left of my second box of shorts, lay back and was almost instantly asleep. When I woke later, he had moved to the bench in front of me and I could watch his brown belly rise and fall, a sweet image framed by the wooden slats of the bench back. If he moved there on the chance Rocky might arrive and take his usual bench in front of that one, he was disappointed because Rocky didn't show up and the Hood had taken that bench.

When I woke just before four-thirty, Mondo was standing outside, came back and gave me his little wave, settled down again. But he almost immediately got up and left without a word or glance, walked off down the path. Such a strange, enigmatic lad.

After coffee and that bizarre encounter at the mall, I went over for an early shower because I wanted to wash my chinos and it takes awhile for them to dry. Just as I was about to leave, the Little One came in cheerfully whistling. I wished him a good morning in response to his "whazzup, dude?" and dallied a bit with packing up, waiting to see if he was ready to take the plunge yet. Nope, but it's going to happen sooner or later.

Draping the chinos over a bush, I had just finished the flask of mixed brew from the morning beergarden tour when an older Asian lady came over to talk with me. Alice from Jehovah's Witnesses. She was quite intelligent and well-spoken, and I enjoyed listening to her, tried to be very gentle with my responses and accepted two issues of "Awake!" with thanks. No, I never much liked it when they'd knock on my door, but that was back in the days when I suffered the delusion that my time was valuable.

Since the main harvester, me, had departed campus so early on Friday, I had a full box of lengthy shorts stashed away just from the walk to Hamilton from the bus stop. Some gathering was underway at Spalding Hall and a table of refreshments was outside. Delicious pumpkin cake, large seedless green grapes and canteloupe, frosted mini-donuts.

An auspicious beginning to Dylan Day at Manoa.

200

There are moments in life which make it seem worth living, worth having stuck around for so long and through so much crap. Even for those of us who, like the Steppenwolf, tend to think of the razor or the loaded pistol held to the temple whenever going on no longer seems sensible or viable, those special moments eventually make their appearance if we persevere. Perhaps they come less frequently for the Steppenwolves than for other men but that may make them even more special when they do arrive.

As has so often been the case during this long strange trip, I was most fortunate. I'd left campus and gone to Kahala Mall, enjoyed a thoroughly delightful gig by Pure Heart while sitting on my backpack on the floor leaning against Papa Colon's well-traveled drumcases. Looking at those frayed leather straps and feeling the battered but still sturdy cases called to mind thoughts of them sitting backstage at Martin Denny gigs decades ago, while now young Lopaka sat a few feet away making the same kind of percussive magic his father had. Like his band mates, Lopaka is a joy to hear but the pleasure is increased several fold by being near enough to closely observe his incredible energy and perfect style. He's so close to perfect it was something of a shock when at one point he dropped a drumstick and I loved the look on his face -- and the way he continued with one stick and his hand, improvising but not missing a beat.

In a week when there have been numerous opportunities to hear the song, not to mention the two wonderful new recordings of it by Raymond Kane and Cyril Pahinui, I still preferred Pure Heart's laidback, rollicking version of "Hi`ilawe" to all others and it was, for me, the highlight of the gig. It might be one of their last at Kahala. Eventually merchants are bound to complain about the large crowd impeding the flow of shoppers.

I watched Hapa setting up for their gig which was to follow but was eager to get back to campus. I first heard as just a rumor, months ago, that Dylan was going to play Andrews Amphitheatre and could hardly believe it. When I mentioned it at the bar in Manoa Garden, a young lady said, "you're full of shit", and I could sympathize with her reaction. Even when it became official, had been confirmed, and tickets went on sale it was still hard to believe. Andrews is a charming little outdoor arena, built in classic Greek style, but with a capacity far lower than one would expect for a 1998 Dylan gig.

I had watched it being prepared for a couple of days and strolled by frequently on Saturday to check on progress. Most fortunate, as I said, because I happened to walk by just as The Man and his band were starting a final sound check and rehearsal. Security was not yet as tight as it became later so I was able to watch from the walkway of a building overlooking the stage and was especially delighted when they launched into "When I Paint My Masterpiece", one of my favorite Dylan classics which, as it turned out, he did not include in the actual concert.

With less than two hours to go before the concert was to begin, I went up and sat across from the Post Office where I was sheltered from occasional drizzle and could watch the arriving crowd and had a glimpse into the arena itself. During Ledward Kaapana's brief sound check that followed, it was clear there was too much echo in that spot to remain there but it was a fine, dry location from which to observe the preliminaries -- and to break out the vodka I had so diligently saved for the occasion.

They had covered the gates with black plastic (rather stupidly leaving two large dumpsters outside the one facing Krauss Hall, perfect platforms for defeating the blocked view and, like nearby rooftops, keeping the security people very busy all evening). But I'd had my look at the Legend already so opted for a spot under the big tree in the circle by Krauss, sheltered from the occasional light drizzle and, as it turned out, in an area which later featured a most ... errrr ... evocative "perfume" in the air.

Ledward Kaapana would not have been my choice for the opening act. I would have wanted the Native Hawaiian Band or at least Bla Pahinui and whoever he wanted to back him, give Dylan a chance to enjoy local music at its best. My misgivings were accented when Ledward started the concert with two dull numbers including what can only be called a cocktail lounge version of "Killing Me Softly". Weird thing to play for a Dylan crowd! But two classic slack key numbers roused the audience and, despite a rather weak rendition of "I Kona", the rest of Ledward's set was well received. I noticed he and his entourage left immediately after their set. In his place, I would have cancelled anything else on my calendar, no way I would have missed the chance to hear and watch Dylan from backstage.

Then The Man and his band took the stage to a thunderous cheer from the crowd. They must have heard that all the way down in Waikiki. As I've written in these Tales, Bob Dylan is the musician I most admire of my generation. I came to the conclusion after his first album that he is a genius. People thought I was crazy. They thought I was crazy again when unlike his calico followers, I cheered rather than booed when he "went electric". Through some difficult times, for him and for me, my love and admiration for his music has never wavered.

He more than repaid that long loyalty. Two hours of alternating crying, laughing, sitting in awe, unable to sit and jumping up to quietly dance or to sway in sympathetic rhythm with "I Shall Be Released". I was most surprised by the number of his earliest classics he included, even more surprised by the often thoroughly different treatment he gave them. He was well into "It Ain't Me Babe" before I recognized the song. Even "Blowin' in the Wind", which I never expected to hear, had to reach the chorus before it dawned on me what he was singing. But, ah, "Everybody Must Get Stoned" had me on my feet with the opening bars.

He was totally uncompromising, played and sang some of his most dense, most difficult compositions, giving in not at all to a crowd who wanted him to "rock and roll". But when he did rock, he surely did do it. I wish every local musician with aspirations to play real rock music had been there to learn from a master. Only the Willie K Band at its best comes even close -- and this was by no means one of Dylan's greatest bands. I wished a couple of times we could have asked the (second) lead guitarist to come out and share the perfume, he might then have let it rip a little more.

But then their job was to provide the setting for the crown jewel of American music in the second half of this century, and they did a fine job of it.

I was, for sure, grateful I'd stuck around on the planet to hear it. As the man sang, "don't think twice, it's all right."

201

"Virtue has its own reward", isn't that the way the saying goes? I'm not sure hanging on to a little bottle of vodka can be called a "virtue", but a reader, who is a great admirer of the Tales even though he confesses to reading them only now and then, so liked the vodka story he provided a reward.

I had just finished a shower with the Warrior, called that because he looks so perfect for a role as a fighter in an epic of ancient Hawai`i. I've had a slight acquaintance with him dating back to householder days, would always give him a cigarette but refused requests for money. I don't especially like showering with him but there had been such a steady stream of nomads through the showers on Sunday morning that I took the opportunity to have a quick wash with one of the better of them. As we were drying off, he asked if I had a smoke and I said no, I had even just run out of shorts, reminded him that I always give him a cigarette when I have any. Then he asked me to "loan" him fifty cents and I told him I was broke. It annoys me a little that he's so silly since he should know better, unlike the two loony stranger nomads I encountered a little later in the mall. They, too, asked me for a smoke and I said "hey, dudes, you just walked right past this one" and waved a lengthy short at them which I'd just gotten from an ashtray. At least they thought it worth a good laugh, the Warrior just sulked unbelievingly.

So I was sitting for a moment at a picnic table and the aforementioned reader walked up and handed me a little paper bag. Inside was a small bottle of Smirnoff, a twin to the one which I had carried around for a week. Funny fellow. He said his wife had insisted on paying a visit to Neiman Marcus, so he took a chance on finding me in the park.

The weird thing about the vodka is that even though I certainly get more of a buzz from it, I still miss beer. It really is specifically beer I'm addicted to, not just alcohol. I would loved to have had a bottle after the Dylan concert but didn't even have enough money for a small one.

It was very late when I finally got to the hacienda. Rocky was back. He and Mondo were already asleep but the Sleeptalker was still awake, was laying down but jumped up and waved to me in greeting. I waved back but didn't want to start a conversation for fear of waking up the Snorer who was also back and making his usual racket, so I quickly settled down on a bench behind Rocky, with Mondo at my head and the shirtless Sleeptalker behind him.

Despite the late hour, I still woke up at about 4:30 and went off on the beergarden tour. The flask was soon full, and when yet another opened but almost full can of Bud Light turned up, I just sat and drank it while watching the approaching dawn. So my post-concert craving only had a few hours to wait until satisfaction arrived.

I walked back over to the mall with the Reader, said goodbye to him and made the rounds of the ashtrays (along with several competitors and the inevitable Cleaning Army), and then stopped to watch Kanilau and the young dancers for awhile. I wasn't really keen on going downtown for the Na Wahine music festival but decided I might as well have a look.

It was nicely set up on the grounds near the city hall. At least at that point, the crowd was much smaller than usual but people were arriving when I left so it may have gotten larger after noon. I listened to Darlene Ahuna's set which was very good but confirmed my feeling that it was going to be one female singer after another, all singing predictable songs in exactly the same way they've always sung them. I guess the glow from the night before was too strong, I just didn't have the patience to sit through any more and left for campus.

Tale 200 is more of a formal review than usual because I didn't want to write all that on Usenet, in either the Hawaiian music group or the Dylan group, but it was too important a day to leave out of the Tales. That concert has been something of an anchor for weeks now. Whenever I'd get some wild notion, I'd put it on the shelf saying it had to wait until after Dylan. Now the shelves look rather bare so I guess most of them just evaporated in the meantime.

201a

I'm making believe ... that you're in my arms ... although we are inches apart ...

Internal jukebox playing prankster on Monday morning, using a lovely World War II ditty to poke fun at me for laying on a bench happily watching a brown belly softly rise and fall. Not guilty, I was making believe no such thing.

The Great Tobacco Hunt got more and more ludicrous on Sunday. I was headed for one of the usually more abundant areas in the mall, spotted a cleaning foe and speeded up to get ahead of him. But! Ahead I could see a parade of two nomads and two more cleaning foes, all lined up checking the ashtrays. Phooey, left the mall and went to campus where the supply was far less abundant because there are so few people around on Sunday, but at least the Cleaning Army is off for the day and there are no competitors. Then I headed down to Waikiki and the mall game repeated itself at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center where I had to race several times to get ahead of more hyper-busy cleaning foes. I did manage to score a whole box of shorts there thanks to having no nomad competitors.

I'd gone to Waikiki to watch Helen R and her friends launch model rockets. I wasn't sure they'd be doing it because the wind was rather brisk and quite steadily so, but that didn't stop them. Helen said only a hurricane or a tsunami would cancel a launch meet, so they are sturdier folk than NASA in the old days when eagerly awaited launches always seemed to get repeatedly postponed for minor reasons. Quite a few rockets of all sizes and varieties were sent up, up and away, one of them decidedly away when it landed on some wires on the other side of the Park, and I survived an attempt to outsmoke me when one of the rockets set off a dense cloud of black smoke upon launching and the wind blew it right in my face.

The launching went on until near twilight and then Helen kindly treated me to my first ever "Ultimate Cheeseburger" at Jack-in-the-Box. I opted for the version with bacon and while we were waiting for delivery noticed that they have an extremely weird pricing policy when it comes to bacon. I could have had my Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger a few cents cheaper had I ordered an Ultimate Cheeseburger with Bacon Added, since the option exists to add bacon to any burger. And in the combo-meal version, there is even less (far less) difference between the Ultimate with and without bacon. All very interesting thoughts to ponder while waiting for food to arrive ...

When I got to the hacienda, only the Snorer was there but the Airport Refugee soon arrived, waved, and quietly settled down as usual, taking the bench behind me which I'd really had in mind for the Sleeptalker. No matter, the A.R. is a much less distracting bench neighbor. I absolutely relished the luxury of a Hurricane, then settled down to sleep.

A gentle tap on the shoulder and that soft voice asking if I had any shorts. The Three Jewels had arrived. Mondo really is one of the very, very few people in my life who can wake me up without incurring even the slightest hint of annoyance. I gave him a virgin cigarette. The Sleeptalker came bouncing up from an outside bench and struck one of his poses in front of me. So I boldly patted him on his soft, flat belly and he jumped around doing a mock karate attack on me which got a laugh from both Rocky and Mondo.

Rocky sat down on an inside bench at my feet but the other two went back out to chat with a stranger who had stayed out there. Before going out, Mondo said he had some pills that "make you drunk". Rocky had already had a couple and Mondo had taken only one, was taking another. I declined with thanks, saying they might not mix with alcohol, but the Sleeptalker took two. Judging by the results, I'd guess they were sleeping pills because after about half an hour the Sleeptalker came back in, settled on a bench behind Rocky and was instantly asleep, keeping the same position for hours.

The stranger left and Mondo sat down on the bench in front of me, asked if I had any more smokes. I gave him one. He was in an unusually talkative mood and I learned that he actually does attend classes at some vocational school in Aiea, although he apparently skips them as often as he can get away with it. He said they wanted him to take a foreign language, so I encouraged him to tackle Japanese. I've never had a relationship with someone where it has been such a long, slow process to build up trust and communication, but the results are certainly heartwarming and when he lay back to sleep, his shirt sliding up to reveal those inches of brown skin, I watched for awhile not so much out of any physical desire but more because I'm just so happy to know him.

202

Oh lucky day! A dime and four pennies. Fourteen, the Hexagram of Possession in Great Measure. Hmmmm ...

I left campus early on Monday afternoon, was irked when I got off the bus at the mall and the Warrior yelled at me asking for a cigarette. I had a few virgins but was saving them for Mondo. Even if I'd had a carton, I wouldn't have given the Warrior one just then, too damned pushy of him. I said I had just arrived to check the ashtrays, resisted adding that he should stop nagging people at the bus stop and go check ashtrays himself.

My timing was better than it had been on the weekend, managed to fill two boxes with lengthy shorts very quickly. Luck wasn't running as good with food though. Someone abandoned one of those large sandwiches on a table, leaving one half of it totally untouched. I should have just walked over and picked it up, but a snooty looking woman was sitting at the next table and looked like she was about to leave, so I thought I'd be genteel and wait until she departed. But of course a cleaning foe arrived, asked if the sandwich belonged to her, she denied ownership, and off the sandwich went to the trash while I growled softly in the near distance.

But then I remembered ... it was Monday! Hare Krishna! I was too impatient last week when I missed them, because they aren't scheduled to arrive until 4:30. What a scrumptious plate of food they handed out when they did arrive, two vegetable curries, saffron rice with peas, those yummy thick slices of wheat bread and a large glass of fruit juice. I was thoroughly and happily stuffed after finishing it, had no need to think of food for the rest of the day.

Earlier on campus I had continued my search for a free MUD worth playing, had come across one called Dark Mists which is in the DikuMUD genre, very unsophisticated compared to MUD2, but the puzzles kept me sufficiently engrossed that I played to the second level and ended up in there for over two hours without noticing how so much time had passed. So I left the mall and returned to campus, mainly to continue playing. But I screwed up big time on one of the puzzles, abandoned that character and started over. Hmmph, a human is useless compared to an elf, so that character was soon abandoned, too, and I went back to the mall.

One shopping cart to return, the shorts-box topped up, and off to 7-Eleven for a Hurricane and onto a bus to the hacienda. Only the Snorer was there and happily settled down for an earlier-than-usual sleep. The Airport Refugee came in so quietly I didn't even notice until he was already seated on the bench behind me. I started reading Death in Venice again, and enjoyed the beer greatly, but then felt quite tired myself so went to sleep.

The Three Jewels didn't get home until almost three o'clock, arriving noisily enough to wake both me and the Snorer. Mondo was in one of his moods and went off to the furthest vacant bench from us without saying a word. Rocky settled down immediately but the Sleeptalker was as bouncy as always despite the wee hour and came over to ask for a drag off the short I had just lit. I would have told him to just keep it but wanted the pleasure of having it back after he'd had it. He and the Snorer started yakking, I protested that it was almost time to get up, so go to sleep already. Rocky backed me up, told the Sleeptalker, "yeh, go to sleep." Peace and quiet returned.

I had another smoke while thinking about the lads, Mondo still visible through the backs of the benches, and it occurred to me that I really need to adopt a stance toward them, and especially Mondo, as if they were cats. With a cat you expect nothing, you make no attempt to directly gain their affection, you ignore them when they ignore you, and you reward them when they do something that gives you pleasure, warmly return their attention when they are in the mood to communicate. I was surprised the "insight" hadn't occurred to me long time back. So, okay, Mondo my lad, you want to be moody and withdrawn, you do it. Just don't expect to wake up and find a couple of cigarettes and a book of matches on your bench.

Sunday evening I'd said to Helen R that it felt weird to have a totally open calendar, nothing specific to be looking forward to, after all those weeks with the Dylan concert as a distant landmark. April 12, 2002 is just too far away, and I don't really expect to make it anyway. I'm a little surprised by how strong a feeling it is, like facing a total void. There are approaching times to dread, like the awful Christmas season, but nothing to eagerly anticipate, and some misbehaving part of me just isn't listening when I say it doesn't matter.

203

Falling in love again ... never wanted to ... what am I to do ... can't help it.

I asked him to kiss me. He wouldn't, but at least he didn't punch me out, and he did trade teeshirts with me so I'll take my nose out of my armpit long enough to write Tale 203.

I stopped over to see Kory K midday on Tuesday. He was fretting over whether it was appropriate to have a relationship with someone eight-or-so years younger. Ha! Try thirty-six years difference, dude.

After sitting in the secluded grove and continuing Death in Venice, then finally allowing myself to listen to Dylan after having kept that tape on ice for weeks, I was walking back to Hamilton and ran into the Cherub in the art building courtyard, the House of the Singing Bamboo.

Men cluster to me like moths around a flame, and if their wings burn, I know I'm not to blame ...

I don't know, I've never been that much into kissing, have always more or less put up with it. The last memorable kiss in my life was 26 years ago. But after breaking my resolution and going to the Garden with the Cherub, drinking several big jugs of Budweiser and half a Sam Adams, he took me back to his place and we shared a big bottle of some brew. By then, who was looking at brand names? So we were sitting outside in the front of the house and I looked at him and wanted to kiss him. Totally weird. He was sweet about it but rubbing my hand over his head was as far as the physical part of our togetherness went, and that was okay.

He's reading Bukowski, read some passages aloud to me which were fine prose indeed. I gave him my copy of Death in Venice.

203a

Men cluster to me like moths around a flame, and if their wings burn, I know I'm not to blame ...

Young Gregory stopped by the secluded grove to say hello.

Little wonder the internal jukebox is stuck on Marlene D.

204

The beergardens were empty on Thursday morning but it didn't much matter, I had a full flask of Hurricane stashed in my bag. I'd been just too tired to finish it the night before. After the drunken debauchery of the evening with the Cherub on Tuesday, I slept in a doorway which I discovered the next morning was in the back of the Japanese Cultural Center. When I woke up I was still half drunk and stayed that way all day, not that it helped much in overcoming these strange post-Dylan doldrums.

I hoped to see the Cherub on campus, find out if he's still speaking to me. Guilt began to set in. Okay, so I'd bought him beer all evening the first time we met, but it's still absurd for a 22-year-old lad who isn't exactly rolling in money to have spent so much on me. I should have been picking up the tab just for the pleasure of his company and conversation. So ran the mulling thoughts all afternoon while the jukebox stayed stuck on Dietrich. But I didn't see the Cherub.

If I ever get up the courage to off myself, a main incentive will be to unplug that damned internal music machine. "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie ..." Arrrrghhh, I hate that song. Fortunately the stunning banner at the Marines Recruitment Office, that scrubbed and shining epitome of an All-American Boy, switched the music to "drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry ..."

Speaking of stunning images, Sam Goody's at the mall has an almost life-sized cutout figure of Enrique Iglesias in their windown now. No, Mondo isn't that gorgeous but the same physical type and the cutout definitely makes me think of him, not that any extra assistance is needed to start me thinking of him.

I had spent most of the afternoon in the secluded grove reading the new issue of Honolulu Weekly and continuing Joyce's Dubliners. Such an extraordinary writer, James Joyce. Some sentences are so perfect, so beautiful they're intoxicating. But then there are passages where the same trite phrasing is used over and over again, and I wonder why on earth he wrote them that way.

I left campus to enjoy another feast from the Hare Krishna folks, excellent food beautifully prepared, as always. No need to think about looking for more food, too exhausted to spend much time topping up the tobacco supply or searching for shopping carts, so I walked to 7-Eleven, bought a Hurricane and headed to the hacienda.

The Big Local Dude was back after some days absence and the Snorer arrived shortly after I did. A couple who rarely stays there came in, pushed the two facing benches together and settled on their "double bed". Mondo walked up alone, said "howzit" to me, and took the bench behind me. He had cigarettes. He also had his backpack again and I was glad to see it since he spends more time sleeping on his back when he has that pillow. He and Rocky had gotten haircuts on Monday but Mondo had kept his ski cap on all the time so I hadn't yet seen the full effect of the haircut, an unfortunate switch to shaved sides with a little skullcap of short hair on top. Sigh.

I fell asleep quickly, didn't wake when Rocky came in and took the bench in front of me. Sandwiched in between Rocky and Mondo, a wonderful way to spend a night, a most welcome interlude between the neverending search for tobacco, food, beer and intellectual diversion. Those two lads have no idea how important they have become to me and what pleasure it gives me to be in their company even if most of the time together is spent in sleep.

204a

Going down ... down ... down ...

I'd like to hear that Nilsson album. The internal jukebox can only vaguely remember that track, was always too far out in the Infinite to better recall the many times I listened to it.

Cainer warned this would be a difficult week. He's really doing his best to convince me of the validity of astrology. Even had I not read him, I still would have wondered many times this week if the heavens were awry for us Aries folk. About today, Cainer wrote: "And your definition of a tough time? That's an experience that few others can imagine being faced with. Happily, you thrive on challenges of the type that you face today. You take them in your stride. Which, all things considered, is just as well really!" Hmmmm ...

It's probably not a good time to be reading Joyce. Penniless Irishmen hocking their watches to buy a round of drinks in a pub, and all that. Alas, my two watches aren't worth a hock shop's time, and drinks are considerably more expensive than the prices Joyce so lovingly details. Not that drink is any great help in such an irritably unsatisfactory time, but it does hold the promise of at least a small degree of escape, of unconsciousness.

I went downhill to buy the last bottle of Hurricane I can afford until circumstances change, returned to the secluded grove to enjoy it while immersed in the tales of Dublin, then took the last soda cup full of it to the Garden. I wanted to see Tomita-san, but he didn't make his usual Thursday lunchtime visit. Bummer.

205

Following Tomita-san's nonappearance, I decided screw it, leaving campus for the day. After considerable waiting around, I finally found enough shopping carts to guarantee a small beer for a nightcap. Then it reached the point of being only one short of a large beer, but would have put Friday morning's senior coffee in cheat mode and I was really bored with the game by then, so gave it up.

The hunt for food was equally aggravating with several fine potential scores lost at the last minute to the cleaning foe or to old Japanese ladies who dallied so long about throwing their bowls of ramen into the trash bins that people advised them to go ahead and do it. But then three Japanese people got up leaving their food-laden trays on a table and walked out. By then I was sufficiently bored with that game, too, that I just walked over, sat down and started eating from one of them. If any of the nearby people noticed, they didn't react. Two trays were from Orleans Express, one from Sbarro, so it was a weird feast of so-called Cajun food and a strange double pizza concoction which was like two pizzas, one upside down on the other. So there was crust on both sides and not nearly enough, or very interesting, filling in between. I didn't finish it. There was so much of the Orleans rice that I filled my casserole with it, enjoyed it with the beer later at the hacienda.

The BLD and his lady arrived soon after I did. I think I should start going there just after sunset, enjoy an hour or so of peace and quiet on my own, maybe even take an early nap to make up for the inevitable lost sleep later when the social club begins. And it began when the Snorer arrived. He launched into a loud diatribe about his boss who had complained when he took four hours to "wash three pots". I'm ordinarily firmly on the side of the Nomads, but I couldn't help feeling the Boss in this case was somewhat justified.

Their conversation was, as always, deadly boring so I dug out the radio and put on the country music station. Ha! There's a new record being played, "The Jukebox in My Mind". It's a lament by a fellow who says there is a jukebox in the corner of his mind and it keeps playing records the lady who has left him loved. I sympathized completely with him.

Rocky and Mondo arrived just before ten, bringing Rossini with them for the second night in a row. He gets that nickname because of his endless yakking, reminding me of the recitative in most Rossini operas which bores me to distraction, too. Once again he took his shirt off, stretched and lumbered around for a bit and then put it back on. He might as well not bother, boring slightly pudgy chest with scraggly hair. Rocky and Mondo had already easily taken the award for most astonishing event of the evening anyway: Mondo was wearing one of his black leather gloves and Rocky was wearing the other. That would definitely have raised eyebrows in any gay bar in town. "How sweet" or much bitchier reactions were easy to imagine, but I diligently ignored it.

I don't know what they had been indulging in, but I've never seen Mondo so happy and lively. He asked for a smoke and was visibly delighted that I'd saved a virgin for him, the only one I'd found all day. He kept looking right into my eyes for lengthy interludes, smiling all the while. Excuse me, young man, while I melt. I asked where they had been and he said, "Waikiki". But then the three of them encouraged the Snorer to join them in playing with a stretch-band apparently used to build up muscles and that degenerated into a lengthy discussion of wrestlers, so I put my earplugs firmly in and went to sleep.

I woke up around one o'clock after everyone had settled down, Mondo on the bench behind me and Rocky behind him, and the Sleeptalker had arrived and was on the bench at my feet, shirtless as usual. When he heard the lighter click, he rolled over, looked at me, waved, grinned and said "hi, Barney!". Hmmm, okay, dinosaur, but fat and purple? Never mind, the kids love Barney so I'll accept the nickname with pleasure. The Sleeptalker jumped up and sat beside me for a minute, then went over to tickle a stranger (at least to me) on the stomach, but the fellow didn't wake up. When I looked at him later I saw he had a strikingly handsome face but another Rossini-like body. S'ok, there's more than enough distracting physical specimens in that place already, and the Sleeptalker becomes more and more a champ at it with all his posing and flirting and his amber blonde hair looking totally delightful as it gets a bit longer, still stands straight up in all directions. He also has the decided advantage by being always so happy and bouncey, not a trace of Mondo and Rocky's frequent moodiness.

He settled back down and I lay there smoking a cigarette and watching Mondo sleep. Earlier I had looked through a Spanish language magazine at 7-Eleven with Enrique Iglesias on the cover. They truly are very similar types.

The beergardens were totally empty on Friday morning, very cruel of the Beergarden Angel who knows I'll have to find four carts if there's to be even the smallest beer for a nightcap, plus a fifth for Saturday's coffee. There was a ziplok bag with some instant waffles in it, so I put it in my backpack, unfortunately not noticing in the pre-dawn light that the bag hadn't been totally sealed and quite a few ants were lurking under the waffles. I was sitting outside McD's with my coffee, wondering why so many ants were crawling around on the backpack. I brushed them off and moved to a different planter. Still more ants. Looking inside, I saw the problem, quickly got rid of the waffles and then spent half an hour shaking everything out to get rid of the ants as well.

I took the coffee refill over to the park, enjoyed it while watching the early surfers wax their boards and head out to the waves, then showered with a black nomad who more than lived up to the legends and washed my chinos, the UH polo shirt, the new tee shirt from the Cherub (a Budweiser one) and the Lauren briefs. I think that sets a record for shower laundry, but if I have to do the chinos, it takes so long for them to dry I might as well do a bunch of other stuff at the same time.

Thursday had been a truly blah day until the encounter with the unusually bouyant Mondo brought it to a happier ending and the later exchange with the Sleeptalker got Friday started with a grin. All my children.

206

While lamenting, and somewhat befunked by, the lack of memorable future dates in my calendar books, I can't overlook the approaching First Anniversary of the commencement of this nomadic life and the writing of the Tales. Part of that has long been the question of whether or not either will continue into a second year and especially the publication of the Tales. I'm sure I'll go on writing them, it's too much fun and too self-enlightening to stop, but am still less certain about continuing to make them public.

Certainly one reason to continue doing so is the pleasure derived from reader feedback. I'm still enjoying that imagined Suddenly Last Summer scenario. I realize that reader spoke from highly vicarious knowledge. There's no way she could have any direct experience of the strange aspect of human sexuality which is configured as gay man admiring and/or desiring straight man. Even those who do have such direct experience, if limited to the world of mainland America, could not understand how different it is in other areas of the world, and in this regard I think Hawaii is an "other area".

I am convinced the vast majority of local men do not resent being admired, no matter by whom, and that many of them, especially the younger ones, actually enjoy it even if they have no intention of allowing it to go further than that passive satisfaction. I find more and more that the burden is on me to get rid of any furtive, shamed remnants of my mainland mindset and to allow myself a more candid, relaxed attitude, openly enjoying and admiring the physical beauty, even more so the quality of mind when the relationship extends to actual contact. And that open candor results in an equally candid response, whether a simple, yet delightful, physical one like the Sleeptalker's flirtatious posing or a sharing of thoughts and concerns of a personally intimate quality. This is my primary reason for living right now and I am grateful to fate, to karma, for having placed me in so perfect a place, and for the unconscious philosophy of these islands which seems to influence everyone fortunate enough to have been born here.

None of All My Children came home on Friday night. After the previous night, when every bench was taken, it was a ghost town. The strange DoubleBench Couple returned, after one night's absence, and the Airport Refugee arrived very late. The BLD, the Snorer, the Three Jewels and their assorted sometimes-guests were all absent. I firmly resisted all tendencies toward the fretting mama role, with almost total success. Almost.

I'd departed campus mid-afternoon, took the roundabout route to the mall via downtown to collect some mail. There was a heavily clouded, threatening sky, with occasional drizzle. But once at the mall, had it not been so hot and sticky I would have thought I'd died and gone to heaven. It was as if the Cleaning Army had gone on strike (happy day that would be!). Within minutes I had a full box of lengthy shorts, had started on the second box when the first shopping cart was found. Returning it, I spotted three more! After half an hour I had two boxes of shorts, had found enough carts to guarantee a Hurricane nightcap.

Myra spotted me grabbing treasures from an ashtray. "What if you get caught!" she said. I reminded her there's no law against taking cigarette butts from ashtrays. She offered to buy me a pack of cigarettes but I declined. She's as poor as I am even if she does seem to have a rather over-abundance of so-called "pride" for a nomad. No shame in taking the leftovers of the world, Myra! Millions of people, all over the world, survive on scraps from the wealthier, the eternal drama of the Haves and Have-Nots, the Nomads and the Settlers. I told her about my prior evening with the three abandoned trays laden with food. She was shocked. "What if they'd come back!" she exclaimed. Then it would have been Panther and the Three Bears, I said. The Mama Bear would have said, "somebody's been eating from my tray," etc. But no, I explained, I had watched them leave, was certain it was a real departure, else I wouldn't have indulged in their leftovers. And they were Japanese tourists. Even if by some freak chance they had changed their minds and returned, profuse bows and apologies would have repaired any damage, probably might even had gotten me a free meal of my own. I wasn't the unofficial Ambassador of Waikiki all those years without learning something about how to deal with Japanese tourists, and they would have been even more embarrassed than I had they returned to find some poor old American eating their abandoned food. Myra wasn't convinced. Too much pride for a nomad, Myra, my dear.

Alas, the Food Court was providing no opportunity for a repeat of that feast and even worse, the Hare Krishna truck didn't show up. Fair weather Hindus? Their guru would NOT have approved, and I thought it very bad form to leave all those nomads sitting on the ledge waiting in anticipation. They should at least have sent one person down to explain their failure to fulfill their promise to be there on Friday afternoon.

Writing this tale on a bench at Magic Island ... four young men, shirtless, surfer shorts slung low on their slim, brown bodies, bare feet, arrived and stood near me checking out the waves. One of them was especially admirable and responded to my recognition of that with a delightful series of poses, more subtle than the Sleeptalker, but unquestionably for my benefit. What did I say? Uh-huh. Poor lad, a beautiful black cat with a white chest and four white paws strolled over to greet me, utterly capturing my attention. I do have my priorities.

After that uncannily quiet, lonely night at the hacienda where the most memorable event was discovering a box of doughnuts on the shelf with the message written on top "help yourself! enjoy!", I woke a little later than usual, stuffed with doughnuts. I had a quiet chat with the Beergarden Angel. Look, never mind filling the flask for later, okay? I'm in the mood for a beer with the dawn. He listened. He went overboard. The flask was full, three unopened cans of Bud Light were stashed in the backpack, and then half a large bottle of Colt 45 turned up. Drinking your third beer as the sun comes up may leave you with the definite feeling you've become an alcoholic, but as the Boys often say, "who gives a flying fuck."

207

It seems to happen whenever they have an extended time together, meaning more than three consecutive days ... the Boys appear to have taken separate paths. As noted, none of them showed up on Friday night and on Saturday, only Rocky came in, waved but settled down immediately and got out his radio. He made the mistake of taking the bench at my feet, and behind the Snorer who had been itching for someone to talk to all evening. I'd done my best to escape into my own radio despite several interruptions. Rocky was even more tolerant than I'd been, so the Snorer rambled on for some time, as usual loudly enough to be heard as background static through the music.

It was Gershwin's hundredth birthday and NPR did a live broadcast of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra: the ever-delightful overture to "Strike Up the Band", the Concerto in F, and the "Catfish Row" suite from Porgy. After more effort than usual, I'd managed to find enough carts for a Hurricane and had also found a pack of cigarettes called Ecstasy. They turned out to be herbal cigarettes (Damiana, Wild Lettuce, Catnip, Passion Flower, Mint, Love and Light). Love and Light? Whatever, the things give a slight buzz and combined with the brew and the music made for a most excellent early evening at the hacienda.

I got plenty of nothin' ...

The Snorer had finally shut up and settled down, a stranger took the bench in front of me and also settled without a sound as did, as always, the Airport Refugee, but then two other strangers came in and took the benches behind me. Despite earplugs, they made enough noise to be thoroughly distracting and annoying, not to mention being utterly uninteresting bench companions. Considering the constant parade of too-desirable men through my life these days, you'd think I'd welcome a break. Maybe I would have seen it that way if they hadn't made so much noise, but as it was, I moved to an outside bench. The sky was totally clear and although it was considerably cooler out there, it was fine to drift into sleep while watching Orion and the other stars overhead.

The days have been so warm that it's a little surprising how cool it is already getting at night and it will very soon be time to adjust the contents of the backpack and the wardrobe to take autumn into account.

Those contents and wardrobe have been going through some "accidental" adjustment anyway. I found an absolutely new pair of fancy Nike shoes, "Air Max". Alas, they are one size too small, wearable but certainly not comfortable. I did try it for an afternoon, but then gave up and stashed them in a possibly-safe hiding place at the mall until I get the chance to transfer them to a safer one on campus. That reminded me of the Converse pair I'd stashed away some weeks ago, so I collected those on Sunday morning and wore them for awhile. Unlike the Nikes, though, they look stupid with shorts, and they are a pain to carry in the backpack when not wearing long pants, so I stashed them on campus. I found a pair of knit cotton shorts with a wacky horse-and-rider design which were amusing enough to wash and add to the backpack even if they may not remain there long, and a Castle & Cooke teeshirt which I decided not to bother keeping after washing it.

Laundry/shower sessions on both Saturday and Sunday mornings included delightful companions. On Saturday it was a Filipino lad in his late teens with a perfectly proportioned, lightly muscular body, a joy to share the shower room with. He was smiling and friendly but wasn't interested in anything beyond a pleasant chat. On Sunday it began with the Little One, but he left and was replaced by a sweetheart of a teenager, just old enough to have his first growth of pubic hair and far too young to consider for anything other than the pleasure of being with him, even though he made it clear he was ready for more than that. Sorry, my boy, I hope I see you again in two or three years.

They have trimmed two large bushes at the Ewa end of the beach park, giving them flat tops, and they make perfect places to drape clothes for drying and the little hill near them is a fine, secluded place to sit and wait for the sun and breeze to do its work. Unfortunately on Sunday, they didn't get quite so uninterrupted a chance because there were frequent brief sprinkles of rain which kept undoing whatever drying had taken place in between them. I gave up, put on the polo shirt which is such lightweight fabric it dries quickly when wearing it, and stashed the slightly damp new shorts, socks and a towel in the backpack where they can sulk until reaching the back of a hacienda bench.

The good fortune at the mall on Friday didn't extend into the weekend and it was a major hassle gathering enough tobacco. I had enough for myself eventually but continued the search in case there were bench companions in need, and kept up the search for carts until Hurricane money was in hand.

Then I was sitting outside McD's taking a break in the refreshing cool air escaping Hilo Hattie's and a fresh-faced young man greeted me cheerily and shook my hand. I thought he was a budding evangelist but, no, "I'm hungry," he said. I was caught too offguard, asked "why are you telling me?" Maybe I should get a teeshirt printed that just says, I'M BROKE TOO. The lad wondered if I could "loan" him a couple of bucks and I lied and said I didn't have a couple of bucks. I did have, of course, had spent several hours collecting them. On the way to buy my Hurricane a nagging voice wanted me to feel guilty. Maybe if the lad hadn't been so scrubbed, so cleanly dressed, carrying a book, I might have been. As it was, he struck me as a kid who had probably blown his allowance in an arcade and was looking for an easy mark. If I'd had more money, he'd have been right, I would have given it to him just because he was so cute.

The beergardens were unusually empty on Sunday morning, maybe because it's so close to the end of the month, just half a Bud Light and two large chocolate chip cookies from Subway. They aren't very good cookies but did make a pleasant breakfast with the senior coffee, and when no food turned up later I was again grateful I'd had them.

This crazy way of living constantly brings to mind that line from the film, "today you lose, Kundun, tomorrow you may win".

208

All three of the Boys were missing again on Sunday night. Despite my deep affection for Mondo, I find that I actually miss the Sleeptalker the most. His bouncing good spirits are infectious and those brief exchanges with him each evening as well as the pleasure of watching him pose his beautiful body were as good a nightcap as a Hurricane. I hope they soon patch up their quarrel and come home again.

I joined Helen R for a "Bourbon Chicken Burger" at Kelly's Cajun Grill. It could have used some real Bourbon in the sauce, but was a decent sandwich. The fries were okay, too, even if the portion was way too small, and there wasn't any ice in the iced tea. I don't think Kelly's poses any threat to Orleans Express when it comes to this fake "Cajun" cuisine that has become so trendy here.

Then I tagged along as Helen did some shopping in what everyone still calls Holiday Mart, bringing back lots of memories of regular weekend trips there with my nephew to stock up on many of the same items Helen bought, all favorites of Jonathan's. Replenishing her supply for rocket launching purposes, Helen gave me three emery boards so I can tackle these damned heel calluses. One on the left foot got bad enough to split and made for rather painful walking all weekend. I never had the problem until I started wearing slippers, so they are clearly at the root of it even if I still don't quite understand how it happens.

We then visited Tower Records where they had the Enrique Iglesias CD on a listening station and I sampled four tracks, liked them all very much even though I couldn't understand a word. His voice is wonderful and the arrangements very stylish. If I can find it on cassette, part of the fabled pension check will go for a recording, the first time since the Dylan tape. I hope Enrique has the same success other musicians have had when I got enthusiastic and raved about them to people who still didn't have a clue what I was talking about ... Dylan, the Beatles, the Stones, Donovan, Cat Stevens.

I was tired, the foot was uncomfortable, so I didn't bother topping up my tobacco supply, went directly to 7-Eleven and bought a Hurricane and caught the bus to the hacienda. The Snorer was there, offered me some chicken or a roast beef sandwich. At first I declined, then later decided to go for the beef. It wasn't a very good sandwich and I had to pay the price of listening to the Snorer's yarn about a "friendly wrestling match" with a nineteen-year-old earlier, but when he strayed yet again into Vietnam memories, I managed to get off the hook and enjoyed the rest of the Hurricane and the remaining Ecstasy "cigarettes" with country music.

If I can find those smokes somewhere, I'm definitely going to buy a couple of packs. They are much more pleasant late evening smokes than tobacco and I greatly enjoy the subtle buzz from them.

One thing I really dislike about local music is the "mommy and daddy song", usually cloyingly sentimental and gushing, some of them bad enough to turn me off the artist performing them altogether. But country has scored. There's a new "daddy song", a fellow whose mother had died and his father was drowning his sorrows in work so had little time to spend with his son. The boy was wishing his dad would buy an old car for him, not so much for the car but because they'd spend time together fixing it up. Okay, corny stuff, but it's so well done it really gets to me.

The Hobbit came in and for the first time I actually spotted him arriving and he gave me a wave. Such a cute little fellow. He's really very small, has shoulder length hair but I've still not really gotten a good look at his face. He has been a regular for almost a week, creeps in quickly and quietly and has been sleeping on the floor behind the last bench in the front row, completely covered in a light blanket. Last night he moved to an outside bench during the night, maybe to escape the snoring.

I had said to the Snorer that I hoped the two strangers who had been there the previous night on the benches behind me didn't return since they'd been so noisy (a subtle hint the Snorer didn't get, of course). He agreed they had been annoying and said he thought many people didn't return a second time because of the lights being on all night. I didn't suggest his nocturnal racket was probably an even greater reason, dude most likely doesn't even know about his affliction.

Happily, the Airport Refugee arrived and took the far bench behind me, leaving one in between vacant and making our corner relatively secure for a quiet night. The strangers didn't come back, the Snorer having no one to talk to settled down early, and it was indeed a quiet night at the hacienda.

Although totally absent for weeks or, at worst, a vague discomfort, that boring chest pain returned with a vengeance on Monday morning. I had to sit and rest awhile about halfway to Ala Moana, then cut short the fruitless beergarden exploration and went directly to McD's for coffee. Two aspirin and two cups of coffee later, the pain was completely gone. It's such a nuisance I hope it's not back for an extended run again.

But I surely do wish Mondo and the Sleeptalker would return, with or without Rocky.

208a

All's cool with the Cherub.



Now if I can just stop wanting to kiss him, I think we can become very good friends.

Monday suddenly became a much more interesting day. I guess I'll be missing the Hare Krishna handout, though. A date with a Cherub is better than a full stomach any day.

209

Gee, but it's great after being out late, walkin' my baby back home ...

Very apt choice from the internal jukebox on a sunny Tuesday morning. But I think I need to rearrange the words to that other song: "even if my wings burn, I know they're not to blame". They being not the wings but the young men whose candles light my life. I don't mean that in a Freudian sense, either. (It's all the Cherub's fault, he delights in innuendo.)

The Cherub has a decidedly devilish influence on me and during the thoroughly delightful afternoon and evening with him I did quite a few things I wouldn't have done on my own, or just for my own benefit. Free beer, free sushi, free books ... it was a very lucky day.

He came into Hamilton Library to say hello, the first time I'd seen him since that evening of heavy drinking last week. Then we agreed to meet after his French class, walked downhill for two bottles of Hurricane. A first, after all these months in the secluded grove, enjoying it, a beer, the zebra doves and bulbuls, and the company of a sweetly innocent looking, sharply intelligent young man. If there's a heaven, it would have lots of afternoons like that.

The Cherub shares many of my bad habits including the fiscally damaging one of being too lazy to go back downhill for cheap beer but heading instead over to the Garden. Bryant shooed us outside immediately, no problem since I wanted to sit outside anyway. Kory K had found a pack of cigarettes which he gave to me earlier, so I'd been enjoying the luxury of virgins all day and didn't want to stop. Eventually even the few I'd tucked away in case Mondo showed up later went up in smoke, but no matter, I didn't go to the hacienda anyway.

One of the Cherub's classmates joined us, bought beer for us to share but the Cherub preferred the Sam Adams, so I took what was left of his Budweiser and let him have all the Sam. Then there was just enough money for one more large Budweiser but I was sassy enough to score two. "Take them and get out!" I just love polite bartenders.

The Cherub and I walked downhill to Rainbow Books where he'd reserved a book earlier. Wade N. was working, first time I'd seen him in ages. The Cherub was feeling hungry but neither of us had enough money to buy any food, so I finally took advantage of the longstanding invitation to drop in for sushi that were closing-time leftovers. Hmmm, is "sushi" plural? Dunno, but we certainly had plural. I think that's the most sushi I've ever eaten in one sitting, possibly more than I've eaten in my entire life.

Then I walked my delightful date home, went on to the cloisters where, miraculously, there was an empty long bench, fell asleep happily stuffed with sushi, beer and a decidedly happy glow.

No, I didn't stop wanting to kiss him, but it's not important.

210

Young lady came over to say hello to us. Tomita-san pulled up his "Nebraska" tee shirt and rubbed his belly.

Still Number One, even if I stay totally clueless as to why that is the case.

His boss said "you spit on him, you rubbed it off, and he hugs you?"

Uh-huh, I need to watch that, a major hazard of plastic teeth, even if it did give me the opportunity to stroke his arm, and get a hug.

Still Number One, never mind I did wake up round about three in the morning and saw the Sleeptalker on the bench behind me.

I slept at the cloisters again on Tuesday night, on Wednesday bought Enrique's Cosas del Amor, listened to it with a Hurricane at Ala Moana Beach Park. Not since Edith Piaf has a singer made me cry even if I didn't understand a word of what they were singing. So I bought another Hurricane and went very early, just after sunset, to the hacienda. And listened again.

I'm going to do it again on this first day of a new Gregorian month.

210a

Met a very large Samoan man. His grandfather was the one who signed the treaty with the USA creating American Samoa.

He's a sweetheart, but was born in the wrong part of Samoa.

210b

Then I fell into a major funk, the worst in a very long time. A night next to the Sleeptalker, two hours with Tomita-san, which included a delicious prime rib lunch on the house, a beautifully sensitive email from the Young Doctor. I should have been sitting on top of the world. Joseph, the only Hamilton "trooper" who doesn't, or didn't, like me smiled at me. That was the Cherub's doing. Yes, should have been sitting up there.

I'm reading Jean-Paul Sartre's La Mort Dans L'Ame, oddly translated as Troubled Sleep. It is a masterpiece from a Master, and it has set a subsurface darkness to these days, lurking there in the background while I try to escape with adoring the Sleeptalker, absolutely wallowing in the pleasure of Tomita-san's company, filling my ears over and over with the classically European, contrived but irresistable Enrique.

White fluffy clouds move across the sky, framed by the Mayan columns of the hacienda, Enrique taunts me with his Spanish body, his voice so at odds with that edifice, oh so intriguing, this Enrique. I orbit between fainting and sneering, but if I had the money I'd fly to Spain immediately. I want to see him sing.

Then, absolutely unprecedented, I left the hacienda, took the bus, bought another Hurricane and a pack of cheap cigarettes.

I know, I know, probably time I did something about these addictions.

211

I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear my trousers rolled ...

After all these years of loving that poem, I finally understood what Eliot meant. "Do I dare to eat a peach?" ... that line was made clear soon after getting plastic teeth, but it wasn't until Saturday morning, after several days of wearing my now-too-large chinos with the waistband rolled over one turn that the light dawned.

The post-Dylan doldrums were joined by the post-pension-check slump. Considering I had spent in advance almost half of it, I suppose I didn't do too badly in this anniversary month. I almost bought the winter shoes ($15, approximately) and it would have been far more sensible to have done so, but aside from that lapse and that crazy afternoon at the Garden, I try to tell myself I didn't do too badly.

Meanwhile ...

I enjoy so much watching the buddy systems form and shift among the nomads, and the younger they are, the happier I am to see the bond form between two of them. Although my account, and experiences, of this life no doubt make it seem much easier than it is for many, it's sometimes strange and not always without its pitfalls and hazards. Certainly one of its most peculiar aspects is the intense loneliness despite never, or rarely, being alone, and having a buddy must do much to eliminate or at least balance that.

Reese, so-called for his preference in candy, has a new buddy, a very cute little Samoan fellow (like Reese himself, although Reese is better described as handsome). They were sleeping side by side on grassmats a few feet from where I sat writing this, and they spend the days sitting in the park, shifting positions to stay in the shade. Both are, I'm sure, still in their teens, beautiful slim brown bodies, the new one a shade or two darker than Reese. They came into the shower house on Friday afternoon and the buddy joined me in the shower while Reese played chaperone. I was sorry he didn't join us, have long wanted to shower with him, but it was a more than sufficient treat. The buddy is as delightful as the Sleeptalker and as cheerfully friendly.

I'd returned to the mall after a few hours on campus hoping the Hare Krishna folks would show up in the park, was sufficiently early to have time for the shower and grateful for the timing, considering the company. The Krishna truck had arrived by the time I finished and I joined the ever-increasing line of nomads (and some obviously not-needy beachgoers who should at least toss a dollar in the contributions jar). I'd eaten very little on Thursday and nothing at all on Friday. The main dish was a vegetable curry swimming in butter sauce, delicious but so rich I think I got a butter overdose. Although I put away most of the rice and the dessert for later, I still felt utterly stuffed and slightly sick for the rest of the evening.

I'd planned to buy a Hurricane and return to campus to enjoy it before going to a "Taste of Asia" festival at the East-West Center, but I couldn't face beer at that point (certain proof of my uncomfortable state). Then when I did get to campus the weather turned foul, my foot was hurting, and I didn't feel at all like doing anything but head to the bench.

I did pick up a Hurricane on the way. No one was at the hacienda so I drank about half of the brew while listening to country music (giving Enrique a day's rest), then put the rest of the beer away and lay back to doze while the music played on. The Snorer came in, offered me some chicken which I declined, explaining I was still feeling well overfed by the Krishna folk. "I don't see how you can eat a meal with no meat," he said. The Airport Refugee arrived and quietly settled down. The Snorer, happily, was tired and soon was asleep, too, so I got out the rest of the beer around eleven o'clock and by then was feeling sufficiently better to enjoy it before returning to sleep, music still playing. At about two-thirty I woke up, put the radio away, and saw that Rocky had arrived and was asleep on a bench in front of me, leaving one vacant in between. Just the four of us, a quiet night at the hacienda except, of course, for the Snorer's periodic ZZZzzz's.

The predawn walk through Kakaako, beergardens empty of brew but yielding an almost full pack of Kools. Bobby giving me his wonderfully shy smile as he handed me my senior coffee, an old geezer asking Viktor, "where are all the pretty girls?" Who cares, Bobby was there. Back for another of his special smiles and the refill, then over to the park to write and watch the sunrise and the sleeping lads.

Reese woke up. It's the first time I'd seen him in long pants, but he soon removed them, his usual extra-long gray blue camouflage shorts having been under them. Then off came his sweatshirt revealing a tanktop with a very faded design on back and his most admirable arms. He looked even handsomer with his sleep-tousled hair, yawning and stretching while packing up his night gear, rolling up his "bed". Then his little buddy finally stirred and got up, the front of his khaki shorts sticking out. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them meet a new day. Although I've never seen it, I very much doubt MTV's "Real World" comes even close.

212

I was taken completely by surprise, almost shocked, as much because of the clarity of the intuition as the unmistakable knowledge that the beautiful young man standing naked with me was afraid. He couldn't have been physically afraid of me, he could easily knock me out with one punch, but he was afraid and sensing that forced me to make an immediate, huge shift in the thoughts I was having, a deliberate and conscientious attempt to change the atmosphere. It worked. He relaxed a little, finally stopped almost hugging the wall with his back turned and faced me.

I'd been sitting on the ledge by the beach, across from the shower house, waiting for the more boring nomads to finish with their habitual morning routine. There was still one inside when Reese appeared from behind the building and went in. Neither he nor his buddy had been in the park on Sunday. Perhaps like some of the other nomads who make it their hangout on the other days of the week, they abandon it on Sunday when it is so dominated by family or office gatherings. Life returns to normal on Monday.

I waited a little while to give Reese time to actually get in the shower, afraid if I went in too soon he'd just sit and wait like he had when his buddy joined me. But when I went in, he was still in the changing area and the other nomad was just leaving the shower. Reese walked over then and undressed standing next to me. He is so extraordinarily handsome. Even in this strange time of my life when I know so many eye-pleasing young men, Reese is exceptional and he's even more wonderful without clothing. When I sensed his nervous fear, I really admired him for having had the courage to undress while only inches away from me.

Why was he afraid? I don't know. He can't help but be aware how much I appreciate him and must sense that I'd do anything to give him pleasure. Maybe he was afraid he'd want to let it happen. But for whatever reason, he was certainly radiating nervous fear and I was very happy when he relaxed. It was our first shower together. I don't think it will be the last and I hope they become more comfortable for him because sharing that space with him and enjoying the beauty of his body is a major delight for me, whether anything happens beyond that or not.

It was a wonderful start to The Full Moon in Aries.

The eve of that lunar event was also quite special. I'd stayed at Ala Moana all day on Sunday, alternating between the mall and the park, had thought maybe I wouldn't go to campus at all but then changed my mind and got on a bus shortly before sunset. As I was walking up the mall toward Hamilton Library, the Scorpio Cherub came into view. "Full moon in Aries," I said, "howl!". He opened some pages he was carrying. It was a copy he'd just made in the library ... Ginsberg's "Howl". The Fates were spinning away up there and must have been grinning as widely as I did.

The Cherub walked back to the library with me, but when we went inside, I said we should forget it and go back outside and share a beer. The sunset was glorious. He asked me to describe the colors and I said I couldn't, it would take someone like Turner to approach it with painting but no one I know could have done it justice with words. Just as Reese stands out among the other handsome young men, Sunday's sunset was exceptional even for this island where beautiful sunsets are the norm.

We walked down to Rainbow Books where the Cherub sold a couple of books so we'd have enough for two bottles of Hurricane, bought them and went to the house he shares and enjoyed them sitting on the front steps under that big shining moon which managed to peek through the clouds now and then. One of the Cherub's housemates is a real cutie and it was fun watching him go back and forth, shirtless and barefoot, from his room to the kitchen. The Cherub, too, is a real cutie but it's the sharpness of his mind which is the stronger attraction and spending time talking with him is probably more of a treasure than actually getting into bed with him would be. I wouldn't at all mind testing that theory but, at least so far, he'll only put up with my flirting and occasional pats, protests if I go on about it for too long but then can't resist his love for innuendo and inevitably gets me started up again. He's great fun to be with. I told him he made the idea of getting a job and sharing an apartment with him a very tempting option. He said he'd definitely do it, would pay half the rent. If he'd said we would share a bed as well, I would have been at the employment agency first thing the next morning.

He wanted more beer and I would have been happy to just get more Hurricane and return to the steps, but he persuaded me to join him in a pitcher of Budweiser at Magoo's instead, so our conversation broadened to include observations on the people sitting around us. Only one of the young men there came even close to being as visually interesting as the Cherub but he was enjoying himself, so I did too. Somehow he managed to get a second pitcher of beer and we stayed until closing time. Then I walked him home and went on to the cloisters for the night.

Sunday had begun with an abundance of beer. The flask was full, there were two unopened cans already tucked away, and then a whole batch of opened but almost full bottles of Bud Light turned up. The only thing available to empty them into was a big cup from 7-Eleven, abandoned with a bag of Air Crisps, together making a fine breakfast. I'd been to one of the Scrabble gatherings on Saturday evening where the liquid refreshment was a very dark brew from Asahi, an enjoyable beer but too heavy to drink in much quantity, and I'd gone directly to the hacienda without buying more beer so I was ready for that big cup with the dawn.

I was given a copy of a romance novel called Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale, refreshingly light reading after the dense darkness of Sartre. The Kinsale book has an engrossing, if somewhat ludicrous plot line about a handsome English Duke who went berserk at one point and was locked up in an asylum by his family who then started to plot to take control of his fortune, foiled by a prim young Quaker lady. Kinsale is one of the better writers of the genre I've encountered and manages to write about the nitty-gritty without once mentioning throbbing erections. So with an ample beer supply and a hazily clouded sky, I spent much of the day sitting in the park drinking and reading, occasionally stopping to watch interesting bodies stroll by. Late morning I went over to the mall to hunt for tobacco, walked through the Food Court at just the right moment to grab an abandoned tray before a cleaning foe reached it. Barbecued chicken, a salad and rice from Wingo's, the first sample of food I'd had from there, and it was joined later in the afternoon by barbecued ribs, popcorn shrimp and rice from Orleans Express.

So from start to finish it was an abundant Sunday and it greatly improved my mood which had been very much in a slump all week. The shower on Monday improved it even further, a dead-end street but certainly a delightful one. Despite the upswing, though, there's a strangely melancholy fog in my head and I don't know why.

I also have no idea what Cainer is talking about in his message for Monday: You are rapidly working your way towards the making of a brave choice. Give it another 24 hours or so, just to be sure, before you burn a bridge to the past.

213

Shine on, shine on, harvest moon up in the sky ...

The gods smiled, opened gaps in the clouds so that huge moon in Aries beamed into the hacienda. Even more special a gift, they sent Mondo home for the first time in over a week. He was sitting there talking with the Snorer when I arrived, no ski cap and no gloves, his hair having grown enough on the sides to lose that shaved chicken look. He was in a quietly happy mood, showed me his pack of Marboros and offered me one. But he had better offerings and I moved over to sit beside him for the rotary connection. Alas, the Snorer, always a motormouth, goes absolutely into high gear after inhaling once and I was relieved when he decided he had to go buy something sweet to eat despite the not so welcome fact that Mondo decided to walk with him while I stayed and watched the belongings.

So I was laying back enjoying the gentle buzz of the smoke and my cart-financed Hurricane, exploring yet again the delight of that wonderful "bedroom". More mystically inclined Egyptologists claim every measurement in the Great Pyramid contains some esoteric information, a thought which came to mind while I was pondering the numerological aspects of the hacienda. Two columns, three arches, where was the one? Duhhhh ... flagpole framed right in the middle of the center arch. The ceiling is a grid, 7 by 11, of symmetrical tile designs. I love that building.

Mondo and the Snorer returned and we shared another of Mondo's offerings, finishing off his little supply. That was enough to put me in the mood for music instead of more yakking from the Snorer, so I slowly stopped paying attention to him, even though he kept looking over at me now and then, and lost myself in music, occasionally taking a look at Mondo who was sitting with a half-smile on his face listening to the Snorer. Then the Snorer settled down at last, having said he had to be at work at four in the morning, and Mondo went to sit on an outside bench for awhile before coming back in and settling on the bench behind mine. I drifted into sleep with a fuzzy, happy feeling of knowing he was there beside me.

Around midnight I was awakened by voices, saw that the Sleeptalker had arrived with yet another young stranger and Mondo had gotten up, moved to the outside benches to join the conversation. I put in the earplugs and went back to sleep, woke later to see that Mondo was back on the bench behind me, the Sleeptalker on the bench in front. The perfect pair of flanking angels. When I woke in the morning, Mondo had taken off his tee shirt, was laying there sound asleep and his wallet was on the floor under the bench. I retrieved it, then sat there wondering what I should do about it. I couldn't try to put it back in his pocket, he might have awakened and thought I was trying to take it, or even worse, making some kind of move on him. There were a couple of strangers in the place, still asleep, so I didn't want to risk just leaving the wallet on the bench beside Mondo. I could, of course, just sat there enjoying the sight of his brown chest, that flat belly rising and falling in sleep, but too much of that was going to get me really twisted. He doesn't have nearly so fine a body as Reese, or even the Sleeptalker, it has more flesh on it, a softer brownness that I can't look at for long without urgently desiring to lay my head on it. So I smoked a cigarette, pondering the dilemma, momentarily distracted and amused when the Airport Refugee went into tentpole mode and by the Sleeptalker suddenly saying a few words in that sharp, distinct voice he uses when asleep. Then I decided the only thing I could do was wake Mondo up, let him deal with the problem of the wallet. I touched him gently on the elbow and said his name, he opened his eyes and smiled. I held up the wallet and said, "it was on the floor", he sat up and put his tee shirt on, stuck the wallet in his pocket. I said, "it's not a very good idea keeping it on the floor", patted his shoulder and departed with a wave, more than happy with the farewell smile and little wave I got in return. A fine, fine evening and night under that beautiful moon, which was still shining brightly in that predawn hour.

Although it had been dry early on Monday morning, later the sky went solid gray and there was frequent drizzle. I saw the Cherub at Hamilton and chatted with him for awhile before he went off to class, then decided I might as well return to the mall since the weather made strolling around campus less than pleasant. By the time I'd topped up my tobacco supply, the weather had begun to change again with breaks of sunshine between very light sprinkles, so I went over to the park, intending to finish the saga of the Crazy Duke and his Quaker Duchess. Reese and his buddy were asleep on grassmats side-by-side. The Krishna truck arrived so I walked over to join the line which Reese and buddy also soon joined, along with all the other habitual park band of nomads and a few obviously not-needy beachgoers, one of them so blatantly not-needy that a Krishna fellow in the truck rattled the contribution jar at him. I didn't blame him, but the freeloader ignored it.

The meal was, as usual, delicious, but I had learned my lesson and ate less than half of it, storing the rest in my casserole. After the unexpected refreshments supplied by Mondo, I was quite happy I'd saved the dessert. Maybe I didn't get the munchies as badly as the Snorer, but even so ... and it was sweet of Mondo to share half a chocolate Hostess cupcake with me, too.

I finished the romance novel, enjoying it right up to its expected happily-ever-after ending and not at all surprised to find out that Quaker lady was a good deal less prim than she thought. The weather began to look threatening again, so I took a last long look at Reese and his buddy and went back to the mall to hunt shopping carts. Once I had enough for a Hurricane and the next morning's senior coffee, it was off to the hacienda.

That morning interlude, sitting there with Mondo's wallet in my hand and feasting my eyes on his bare chest, had me so intoxicated it didn't really matter if the beergardens were dry, and they were save for half a Bud Light. The Cherub had asked me when I'd last had sex with someone and feigned jealousy when I'd said I didn't remember which day, but one morning last week. My Japanese shower buddy, again. I've lost count now how many episodes we've been through together, so I guess it can appropriately be called an affair. The most recent time, though, was different. He had forgotten to remove his wedding band. Adultery! And the old Filipino gentleman who is so smitten with me came in. We stopped, of course, but he made a gesture urging us to continue, so I grinned at the Japanese fellow, shrugged and he grinned back, grabbed me and we took up where we'd left off. Having an audience made him even more energetic than usual and, as usual, he didn't have much staying power but that's okay. I thought about that episode especially, after the morning with Mondo, and was tempted to go over and see if my favorite shower buddy was around. But no, sometimes it's fun to stay horny, save it up. Who knows what Dame Fortune might have in store after that delicious day and night of the Full Moon?

214

Day 364 of this trip was a real rollercoaster ride, Dame Fortune at the controls, cackling with glee as she conjured up ever new and unforeseen steep summits and tried to terrorize with equally unforeseen plunges. She succeeded well at first, having lulled and charmed me by that Full Moon day and evening, that 364th predawn with its exchange with Mondo. A sly wench, Lady Luck, as they'd say in Regency romances.

I went up to campus early, keyed in Tale 213 and continued the process of reviewing the early tales and making them technically ready for CD-ROM, if that project ever takes form. As I was walking over to Kory K's office, I ran into the Cherub (which Dame Fortune has been making an almost daily event). He was wearing his Nathaniel Hawthorne tee shirt, one of the things that instantly caught my attention when I first saw him. A young lady encountered him at the same time I did, and stroked his chin with its new attempt at a beard. Lovable little monster, he is. He was on his way to Barnes & Noble where he could study a volume of Cliff's Notes on whatever it was he didn't want to devote much time to while sipping on re-fillable iced tea.

Kory K was all wrapped up in one of UH-Manoa's seemingly endless shuffle of bodies from one place to another, this time his office. This one, like the change of classrooms which ended my wheelchair attendant gig, affects me directly since the file cabinet will become the property of the new occupant of the office and I lose my little stash drawer.

Dame Fortune sips her mug of absinthe and smirks, watches me waste far too much time deciding what to do about the stuff currently stored there, what to save and how to relocate it, etc. etc., even though I was thinking all the time I should just throw it away. Well, except for the Willie K tee shirt Harold Kama gave me. So extreme a solution would no doubt be regretted soon when the cooler weather which is already being hinted at arrives and all my "heavy winter" stuff had gone into the trash.

Ah, but consider the lilies ....

Debate, debate. I'd liked to have had a beer to ponder it over but was a few cents short of even a 20oz bottle, a condition Dame Fortune later brought to the ludicrous point of being TWO CENTS short of such a bottle. But she refused to yield even one dropped penny, much less a shopping cart, no doubt smirking again when I spotted a Pepsi cup still sweating from its cold contents, abandoned on a bench, said "phooey, I'll drink a soda then", and it turned out to contain beer. I wonder how much beer I've missed out on by my habit of usually ignoring abandoned soda cups with lid and straw intact? As if I were the only person who had discovered that method of drinking in disguise.

It was another of those days that began sunny, then became heavily clouded with occasional torrential downpours before returning to mostly sunny. I'd found a murder mystery or psychological suspense or whatever it's called novel, John Katzenbach's State of Mind, so started reading that between the rains to see if was worth continuing, decided it was but figured I'd have better luck with the weather, and with the food and tobacco supply, somewhere other than campus. I did find an abandoned plate lunch box with one piece of chicken, rice, and a macaroni-potato salad which was quite tastey but the campus was strangely lacking in tobacco shorts. Maybe there's another competitor lurking somewhere, taking advantage of my lengthy stays at Hamilton Library or in the secluded grove, or maybe it's just the ever-present cleaning foe.

In any case, I headed back to the mall, ran races with the cleaning foe there to get to ashtrays before them, waited around for the shopping cart that never turned up, found some yummy beef stew and wished the person had left more of it, ran into Myra who gave me about a dozen chocolate-chip cookies, and found the beer on the bench. I filled two boxes with shorts, followed a few people to grab their carts only to watch them take the things back. If I had enough money to fill one of those carts with as many bags as one man did, no way I'd waste my time dragging the empty cart back for a quarter. Finally I'd had enough, resigned myself to heading off to the bench wanting a beer but grateful for the tobacco and for not feeling hungry (even if only because of cookies), inwardly chuckling over the weird game Dame Fortune had played with me all day.

A final round of the ashtrays was worth it, not so much for the harvest but ... passing by The Gap, I noticed a delightful looking Filipino lad standing outside, nicely groomed and dressed in a stylishly casual fashion. Naturally I looked at him as I approached. He said, "hi" and I returned the greeting. "Wazzup," he said, "I'm gay." I was walking slowly, didn't pause, but turned back and smiled at him, said, "good for you." He grinned and gave me the shaka. Lawdy, even the rent boys in this town are beautiful. Where was he when I had an apartment and probably enough money to afford him?

The Snorer was at the hacienda, already asleep since, as I discovered later, he had some night job he had to leave for at eleven. Nice man though he is, I wouldn't mind at all if that became his permanent schedule. Sitting on an outside bench was a relatively young woman I'd never seen before, and it quickly became obvious she was thoroughly moonstruck. Most times the moon appeared between clouds, she'd start to talk to it in a textbook version of demented speech, almost poetic at times, but slightly shrill and thoroughly disconcerting. Unfortunately, she moved to an inside bench which made it even worse.

Mondo arrived, just after one of the Moonmaiden's outbursts had awakened the Snorer. Mondo was smoking and had one cigarette tucked behind his ear. I noticed another cigarette on the floor I hadn't seen before, asked whose it was. The Snorer's. I said, "you guys are getting bad about keeping goodies on the floor," and Mondo grinned, thanked me for rescuing his wallet and offered me the cigarette behind his ear, saying it was his last one. In my language, that's as much a declaration of love as any man can give. I thanked him, but said he should keep it for himself since I had plenty of shorts and enjoyed the look he gave me in response. The Snorer had quickly settled down again, but the next outburst from the Moonmaiden woke him again, he raised up and noticed her sitting there for the first time, looked at me and raised an eyebrow. I just grinned and shrugged slightly in response, and he said something like, "damn, I thought I was dreaming" and went back to sleep. Mondo must have been pretty tired because he settled down after smoking the second cigarette and was soon asleep, too.

The Moonmaiden started chuckling to herself so I gave her a stern look, sufficiently disapproving, I guess, to drive her back outside. She wandered about halfway down the path and was standing there when the Airport Refugee arrived. I saw them talking, then they disappeared around the corner. About fifteen minutes later the A.R. returned, looking warily back over his shoulder, and settled on the bench in front of me instead of his usual place, as if I and the sleeping Hood in front of him would provide a shield from the Moonmaiden should she return. She didn't.

Because of her, Mondo had settled on the bench at my feet. Close to midnight, the Sleeptalker noisily arrived with Rossini the Second in tow. I was dozing, took a quick peek to see who it was, but closed my eyes again and then felt a pat on my stomach, looked up to see the Sleeptalker bending over the back of the bench grinning at me and asking, "where's my food, where's my food?" (I guess he was wondering where the Snorer was, since that's the main source of food down there now that the Rice Bag Lady has vanished.) I reached up and ran my hand through his hair several times, like petting a big shaggy puppy and he stood there taking it just like a dog would, grinning so big I wouldn't have been surprised if his tongue had hung down panting. I patted his stomach and he did one of his little dances, sat down on the bench behind me, smoking a cigarette. A few minutes later, he was up and bending over my bench again, putting the cigarette in my lips. A sweeter flirt I've never known. Then he tried to get Rossini the Second to "go walking" with him, was turned down, so left his bag and set out on his own. I was asleep by the time he returned, Mondo had moved to the bench behind me, and the Sleeptalker took the one behind that. Musical benches, wonderful players.

That encounter with the Sleeptalker made me realize something I should have considered a long time ago in this trip. These lads are starved for affection and attention. They wouldn't be living on the streets at so early an age if they'd gotten that as children. But it has to be genuine and not given in expectation of reward, just as in my earlier thinking about it in terms of relationships with cats. I can pet the Sleeptalker and he can enjoy it because I do feel true affection for him. Sexual seduction is not a role I am well suited to, not one I enjoy, and that is why almost all intimate relationships I've had, with either sex, were initiated by the other.

I've learned, and am still learning, much from these lads, and I feel honored by the trust they have in me.