Now, I have finished a full month at the Hermiston Herald, and I have already noticed a pattern in my column. So far, my columns tend to have one of two underlying messages. They are as follows: 1) People are nice; and 2) fun also is nice. The day will come when I summon the rage within me and rain down heck on evildoers. That day is not today. So ...
People are nice, and fun also is nice.
The nice person I want to tell you about right now is named Reginald Ugwu, though this was not his actual name, but the name by which I knew him. Reginald was Nigerian, my roommate and a good friend.
He invented the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Ask me about it, and I will tell you the full story. But, for now, I will tell you about his spirit.
Reginald loved to play. Soccer was his game of choice, and he could play it for hours. Often, he would outplay both his teammates and his opponents, so that, after they quit, he would join a new set of players to begin a fresh game.
Meanwhile, I would sit on the sidelines and read or chat up women who still were more interested in Reginald, his powerful physique and fun spirit. For Reginald, who earned the nickname “Xiao Shan,” or “Small Mountain” for his great joy in life, always laughed when he played.
When he scored a goal in soccer, he would pull the front of his shirt over his head, and run in a figure-eight. All the while, arms outstretched, he would laugh.
Meanwhile, I would look up from my book, and wonder why he was willing to look so foolish. I also was befuddled as to why his foolishness did not scare away friends. In fact, the more childish he acted, the more he was beloved.
Reginald, though I did not understand him at the time, was living a fully realized life. I knew he was smarter and stronger than me, but I wish I would have known he was better than me at simply living. Then, perhaps, I could have learned from him much earlier.
I think about him now, because of a recent situation. A couple of weeks ago, I was among friends and in a situation in which I had to choose between joy and dignity.
My wife, a couple of other friends and I were at Butte Park in Hermiston when we wandered over to Funland Playground.
It was late in the evening, following our picnic, and we admired the equipment. I had climbed on some of the playground, but I had never cut loose, and certainly had never gone down one of the large slides. But when I saw my friends having fun, even tumbling down the slides, while I was standing on the ground, I realized my error.
I was on the ground, while they were enjoying themselves. I felt like a real moron, and Reginald would have been ashamed of me — if he even thought about me, which he would not have. He would have been on the slide.
So, I clamored up the large Funland structure and slid down the slide, feeling such a rush that I screamed all the way down. When I hit the bottom (hard), I went up to the top again and slid down the other slide, which was twisty and dark inside. And, yes, I screamed again, all the way to the ground.
Then, I went to other equipment and features of this amazing park, and I played on them with my wife and friends. At times, we even took silly photos of one another, next to a giant onion, potato or some other piece of produce, whichever seemed less dignified.
I thought, Reginald would be proud, but the truth is he still would not have noticed. He would be off on some other obstacle, still having his own fun and laughing. No matter.
He might have taken notice of me, though, when I rode one of the Bird Scooters, which are available for use in Hermiston, around town. It was the first time I had used one, and riding it made me laugh, just like Reginald.
This leads me to my points for the week: 1) People are nice; and 2) fun also is nice. I am saving my fury for a different week.