A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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March 2008, vol 4 no 1

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Ray Rasmussen


Talking About Things

Thursday afternoon. The doorbell rings, and my friend, Joan, greets Gayle and her son, Brad. Gayle is petite and has a toothpaste ad smile; Brad, a young teen, is gangly, his head hanging down.

I glance over, say “Hi” and continue working on Joan's sink, my head also going down into the "too busy to talk" position. But I can’t help overhearing their conversation.

"Brad has a new jacket. He likes blue. Don't you think he looks great!"

"Oh, yeah, very nice,” Joan replies.

"He got it for the dance. He has a date with Jenny's daughter, Teri. She's cute as a button."

"I know her. I think she's an honors student," replies Joan.

"Brad, too. He wants to be a biologist."

Brad is examining the carpet as if he indeed loves biology and sees hundreds of interesting critters crawling about.

"What about it, Brad," I say. "Biology is your thing?"

"Oh, I donno."

I kick myself—why did I keep him on the hot spot?

It's 1952. My mother is telling Aunt Laura that I want to be a doctor, that girls are beginning to notice me, that I got the best newspaper delivery boy award. Aunt Laura says, "Yes, he's such a good looking boy; he has your eyes." I do my best to become invisible, not easy when two Italian women are rolling your psyche back and forth like a bocce ball.

Back in the present, Gayle is saying " He's especially into insects. You should see his collection."

I entertain the idea of interjecting with, "Gayle, why don't you let Brad speak for himself," but don’t.

houseflies buzzing—
the sun shifts
behind a cloud