not old enough

The best babysitter.
Even though work is, for me, probably more busy now than it’s been in… well… in forever, I’m taking today and Friday off. My sister-in-law and her husband are in town and we’ll be doing the standard Northern California tourist jaunt. Today is San Francisco, this weekend is Tahoe. Tromping around the state is a sure-fire way to not get my work done… and although I have some level of guilt, I’m gonna do it anyway. But before that, I wanted to try and at least get an entry done.

There’s a certain CD that plays every single night in Henry’s Bar, Taipei. It’s a solo piano album; nice, quiet, uppity-sounding background music for an up-scale bar. I know this CD by heart. I can whistle every refrain of every track. I’ve heard the songs so many times, drinking Taiwan Beer while talking to the staff, drinking Taiwan Beer while talking to friends, and sometimes just drinking Taiwan Beer. Today, I was making travel reservations for my upcoming trip to Denver, and a very similar sounding piano number came on as the on-hold music. My brain was immediately taken back to Henry’s Bar. I got that familiar lonely-cold feeling in my gut, knowing I’m a world away from home but somewhat comfortable in a place I’m very familiar with. I could almost feel the just-a-little-too-cold air conditioning on my skin, and here the glasses clinking over shouts of “Hello! Good evening!” in stilted English. I even missed my wife and felt a little homesick. It’s amazing what music can conjure up in terms of vivid memories. I’ve heard that smell is the number one memory-associated sense, but hearing must be a close second.

When my family first moved to Florida, I was in the 6th grade and my brother was in the 3rd. During that first summer vacation, I guess our folks didn’t feel we were quite old enough to fend for ourselves all day while they were at work. So, we had a babysitter. Every day, we had a babysitter. Over the summer I think we went through two: both in their 20s. The first one was short with red hair cropped to her head like a boy’s, and I can’t remember exactly what the other on looked like, other than she very much not boyish. Me being in the 6th grade, it wasn’t very long before I had developed a crush on the second. She would lay out in the backyard in a tiny swimsuit, and I would sit safely behind our tinted sliding-glass doors and watch. She used to tote along her stuff in a largish beach-bag, and she’d leave her changed-out-of clothes in it when she went outside. I can remember ever so carefully peeling apart the top of that bag to glimpse the stringy white underwear inside.

Over her time babysitting us (which was considerably less than the time the redhead did), she began to talk to me more and more. Alas, when summer ended, she was gone. Then, one evening, maybe a week after I’d last seen her – the phone rang and I answered it. It was the babysitter, calling to talk to me. She wanted to tell me that she’d been in Miami the night before, and caught a 2 Live Crew concert (a band we’d talked about together before). I remember her calling me by my name: “David, blah blah 2 Live Crew blah blah…” How odd… a 20-something babysitter calling a 12-something kid to talk about 2 Live Crew. The conversation lasted less than a minute, but at the time, was a huge deal to me. All that, and I don’t even remember her name.

Not much, but I think what there is is OK.

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