A meanness and a kindness

Two stories to begin the new year:


When I was young and sometimes cruel, I played a trick on my little sister.  I tracked her down in the neighborhood and told her that our father had been looking all over for her and was really, really mad that she wasn’t home.  What got me laughing up my sleeve was that he hadn’t been looking for her at all, and that he had a notoriously bad temper. Dreading his outburst, poor Josie hurried home, knocked timidly on his bedroom door and said in her tiny voice, “I’m home.”


“So what?” came the booming voice from the other side of the door.


I feel like little Josie, sheepishly returning to my blog after a long absence, announcing my arrival, full of excuses.  But before I launch into an explanation, I hear the response: “So what?”


Speaking of getting back home, I was just in Maryland and heard a little story from my nephew, who is a “Firstie” at the Naval Academy.  Last October, as he stood in line for a Halloween concert at the Naval chapel, performers dressed as gargoyles and white-faced zombies snaked in and out of the line, creeping up on people.  They would press up against their victims and stare, expressionless.  Bear in mind that my nephew is at least 6’6”, so his zombie only came up to his shoulder, but she was still “in his face,” so to speak, and wouldn’t go away.


He tried talking to her.  “So do you come here often?” he joked, and noticing her sleeveless attire, “Pretty cold out here, eh?”  Still she wouldn’t break character or leave his side. “I was really uncomfortable, and I didn’t know what to do,” my nephew explained, “so I put my jacket on her.”


Sigh.  I don’t think it’s just the proud auntie in me that labels him a sweetie, a gentle giant, an adorable young man who is also very wise.  I’m impressed, he impressed me, he’s left an impression.  I’ll call it James’ Rule:  when you feel uncomfortable in a situation and don’t know how to act or what to do, perform a kindness.


Perhaps I’ve read this advice before in a women’s magazine, but he surely hadn’t.  That’s what makes him such a wonder.


Tomorrow, a poem elfing.


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