Friday, December 22, 2017
Karen got down to the party room about 10 minutes to noon. "Anything I can do to help?" She asked Tara, the head of the social committee. "Oh, how lovely Karen, I guess you can put the centre pieces onto each table." Tara pointed to the dozen Poinsettias on the floor. As Karen knelt down, she quickly took her wrapped present out of the grocery bag and shoveled it under the Christmas tree. . .
Coworkers started to show up at the party. Everyone had a wrapped gift in their hands. Karen lurked behind a tremendous pot of Poinsettia and observed. She tried to remember which gift belonged to whom. She paid particular attentions to the ones coming from people who contributed the most at the Halloween Potluck Luncheon. "Oh hey Karen, look like we are assigned to the same table." George from Tech Support beamed at Karen with a jolly smile. Minutes later, Xiao Min from accounting and Vivian the student interim also joined the table. Xiao Min was a newcomer, apparently it's her first Christmas in Canada. Vivian claims that she is 21 but looking like 12 with her watery eyes and pore-less skin. This was a table with an interesting mix of demographic, we have someone who still believes in Santa Clause, someone who never believes in Santa Clause, someone who looks like Santa Clause, AND Karen, who never ever ever wants anything to do with Santa Clause, like ever.
The CEO was giving a toss: "Thank you for coming to this fabulous Christmas Party. I want to thank the lovely ladies in the social committee; I want to thank everyone for your passions and dedications in 2017. I want to thank blah blah blah. . . Let's line up for food and get the party started!" Karen launched out of her chair. She had not had anything substantial since yesterday's breakfast. She was very generous at giving herself a full plate of every thing, chicken, spring rolls, short ribs, salmon, etc. Though it was a lunch, she was tackling it like the last supper. At the dessert table, she saw a pile of fortune cookies. She said to Frank who was next to her, "Will you give me a fortune cookie?"
"Huh?" Frank was puzzled for the fact that Karen was literally standing between him and the cookies.
"Oh, it's a thing, you cannot pick your own fortune, someone else has to pick for you." Karen said with dead seriousness.
"Oh, my pleasure." Frank picked the best looking one from the bunch.
The food was extremely delicious. Karen savored each bite and sucked the juice out of every molecule. George had a different approach, he needed to shovel down as much food as possible before his brain sends the "full" signal. Xiao Min and Vivian didn't come with a particular strategy. They were just eating, smiled awkwardly, and feeling insecure as the newest members of the company. For a good ten minutes, no one really said a word at the table while the rest of room was as noisy as a Christmas market.
"Okay everyone, we gonna play an ice-breaker game." Tara continued, "You have a sticker on your back. It has the name of a famous person or a cartoon character. You have to guess 'who you are' by asking your neighbors a series of 'yes' or 'no' question. . . Does that make sense? Yeah?"
"I have a sticker on my back?" Karen couldn't remember when and how.
"Yes, do you wanna start with yours?" George asked.
"Sure. . ." Ain't her thing, but she just wanted to get it over with. "Live, dead or a cartoon?"
"Karen, you have to ask a yes or no question." Vivian said.
"Fine." She rolled her eyes. "Is it alive?"
"Yes, he is."
"White, black, brown, yellow or orange?"
"Again, you have to ask yes or no questions."
"Seriously." Karen rolled her eyes again, but this time, she made sure that they landed on Vivian's big and watery eyes.
"Orange..." Vivian said quietly.
"Trump, Ed Sheen or Prince Harry."
"Wow, you are good." George said, "It's Ed Sheen".
"Although technically Ed Sheen is a Ginger. It's a new thing, he started a new category. Isn't that cute that instead of naming the color, we describe it as a beloved produce? I mean, we should do that for black, white, brown and Asian people too." Vivian carefully put it in a politically correct way.
"We have that for black, white and brown already, it's chocolate, milk and caramel." Karen said.
"What about Asians?" Xiao Min finally broke the ice.
"Asians are a bit complicated. You see, we use 'banana'. But, banana is a term that only describes Asians who are actually White at heart." Vivian explained.
"So, you wanna find an appropriate fruit that is inclusive for all Asians?" Asked George.
"No, Lemons are sour, it's not technically edible." Xiao Min protested.
. . .
Not only was the ice cracked, it melted like the North Pole. "Let's do Xiao Min's". Vivian was all pumped up. She turned Xiao Min around and the sticker on her back reads --- Neil Armstrong. "Who's that?" Great, it's gonna take a while. Karen drifted away. Her thoughts took her far, far into the galaxy and landed her on a planet called "the Dead Star". . .
May 17th, 1992, Karen turned sweet 16. She awoke from a dreamless sleep. She opened her eyes and saw the world in a completely different light from the day before. The very first thought that flooded her conscious was, "Santa Clause is not real, neither was Mrs. Clause, the Alf, the Reindeer, and the Grinch." There, she figured it out, she did, all by herself. Sixteen was the turning point for her, the curse of naiveness was finally lifted. She couldn't believe that the whole wide world would work together to prey on the innocence of little children by telling them that Santa Clause is real. Every single Christmas, Karen would write a 200-word letter to Santa and tell him about all her proud accomplishments, the tantrums that she did not throw, and the physically tiresome chores that she did for allowance. She'd do everything to land herself on Santa's Nice List. Every year, when she sat on Santa's laps in the mall, she would tell Santa exactly what she wanted for Christmas and he would nod and nod and said that it would be delivered. But she never got a present that she asked for. Many times, her present showed up only after her parents came back from their Boxing Day frenzy. "Santa was too busy delivering gift that he couldn't make it on time." Though Santa never kept his promise, she always believed. Her faith was renewed annually in time for Christmas. If Santa is not real, then what else is fake news? Is time linear? Is Earth really rounded? Is climate change a hoax? And most recently, is Old Taylor really dead?
"Is he a scientist?" Xiao Min asked.
"Finally we are getting somewhere. Yes!" After Googling, Vivian knew Neil like a friend.
"Cut to the chase, he walked on the moon." Karen was now drowning in the Arctic Ocean.
"Is it Michael Jackson?"
"No, Michael Jackson did the Moonwalk. But this person literally walked on the moon." George became inpatient as well.
"Really? Did Neil Armstrong really walk on the moon? I mean, you actually believe that?" Karen was visibly upset.
"Okay, everyone, it's time for our Gift Exchange." Tara shouted with excitement. "Thank you for bringing a wrapped gift, I saw some very fancy and creative wrapping techniques. If you are new to this game, this is how it goes: at the back of your name tag, there is a number. I will call each number chronologically. When it's your turn, you will come up and pick a gift for yourself. You will unwrap your gift, make sure that everyone knows what it is. The people who come after you will have a chance to steal your gift and if your gift gets stolen, you can pick another gift, which might be stolen again, and you will have to pick another one. . . until everyone ends up with a gift. Does that make any sense? Yeah? Okay, let's get into it. Number 1!" Karen turned her name tag around, it says "35." She hit the Jackpot! It's the last number, which means she could steal anyone's gift. She could choose anything she wants!
Jeff from Marketing was the first to pick a gift. He pulled all of them into the open and chose the biggest and tallest gift. He unwrapped it, and it was a three-tiered high tea tray, beautiful and shining. "Wuuu", "Ahhh", everyone was amazed, everyone wanted it. Jeff walked to his table to pick up a dirty napkin, he then wiped his DNA all over the tray. Message received. Karen didn't think the three-tiered tray was very ideal for her. She doesn't entertain much. . . One after the other, Karen evaluated each revealed gift based on its market value and practicality. She liked a few of them, but she was still waiting for "the One".
Vivan's turn was up, "hmm, I think it's an apron." Tara stopped her while she was unfolding it, "It's okay sweetie, no one wants your apron". . . George got a steaming tray, but apparently he preferred his food fried. . . When it was Xiao Min's turn, there weren't that many options left. She picked the one that was the biggest among the rest. When she opened it up, it was a beautiful piece of wall decor. Though the wrapping was torn off, it was still in its original cardboard box. Karen smiled with the smile of a Shopping Mall Santa. She found the One. This gift would be the perfect gift to re-gift. (She is playing Secret Santa at her knitting club on Saturday).
"Last but not least, number 35!" Karen didn't even have to get up from her chair. She grabbed the gift from Xiao Min's hand. "I want this." Xiao Min didn't seem to be upset, because there was still one gift left, one hope for an even better surprise. She went back to the Christmas tree and took out the last gift. It was kinda small compared to other packages, but car keys are small, diamonds are small, and the tweeting hands of the President are definitely small. "I love the wrapping paper and the bow." Xiao Min was giving her commentary along the way, since everyone was attentively waiting for a grand finale. "It's. . . it's a . . . it's a can of cat food. " A nightmare wrapped in a day dream. "I don't even have a cat." The room went LOL and triggered an artificial earthquake. "Thanks to whoever it is that gave us the gift of joy and laughter." Karen shouted out her commentary. Xiao Min laughed too, trying to make lemonade out of her lemons.
"Hey honey, let me cheer you up with pictures of my cute cats." Karen put her arms around Xiao Min like her new BFF. "This is Pikachu. . . this is She-nay-nay. . .this is Bokchoy. . . this is Bazinga, and this, well, the others don't know, but this fuzzy little dude is my favorite, his name is Berbie, not Baby, but Ber-Bee."
"Is it name after someone, like Bieber?" Vivian really wanted to know.
"No, it means baby."
Xiao Min said, "Oh, you have this many cats, do you want this cat food?"
The luncheon was a huge success. As Karen was cleaning her table, she saw her fortune cookie. She opened it up like a present. The words were delivered right on time "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Now."
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Throughout his entire life, my dog never likes other dogs. Our neighbors had to reroute their dog when they saw mine approaching them. Recently, we went to Sunnybrook Park, where there is a dog park. I had never been to a dog park, so that trip was more for me...
After we stepped out of the car, he walked about 100 meters and found a nice piece of turf and started to go in circles. He had already squatted down, but as soon as he saw a little dog coming our way, he forgot about doing his business and started barking at him. "Sorry." I said to the owner who gave me a grim smile, which reminded me of a friend who once told me that "some dog owners are idiots for bringing their stupid dog to a dog park." With that thought in mind, we ventured further into the woods. Before long, we saw a Malamute marching toward us. He was huge in size, yet meek in spirit. My dog looked a bit panicky and placed his paws on my wheel asking to climb up to my laps. No thanks. My dog came around to the other side of my chair so I could become his shield against this giant. The whole minute while the Malamute was inside our comfort zone, Heihei was tiptoeing with his head down. But minutes later, Heihei started to bark toward the direction where the big guy was becoming smaller and smaller. He was so mad that he looked a little bulkier with the furs on his back all standing up.
I tightened up his leash. As we walked another 20 meters, we saw a professional dog walker with her 7 dogs coming towards us. They got along very well, pacing at the same speed. It was an art that none of their leashes were tangled. All of the sudden, Heihei started yapping again, totally destroyed the peaceful dynamic. Three of the small dogs were triggered, they started to exchanged fire and fury like the park had never, seen, before. "Sorry!" I had to keep apologizing for him. It's embarrassing that my dog brought out the worst in dogs.
Then, we reached the heart of the dog park, where my favorite animals could run wildly and freely. Pooches were wagging their tails as their owners were unbuckling their leash. What if there is another idiot bringing their stupid dog to the park? With that thought, I scooped my dog from the ground and put him on my laps as we went into the gates. The small dogs had a designated area, but we were staying outside the fence and watching them chasing and playing with each other. Some of them looked so perky wearing their fancy costumes. I had an amazing time. But my dog was constantly making this grumpy noise. I could feel the vibrations of his vocal cord. "just a few more minutes, buddy."
Then, I kinda smelled something, and no matter where I relocated, it stuck with me like a foxy armpit. Then, I realized that I had stepped on a "golden" road bomb. It was all over one of my wheels. I looked towards where we had come from, I realized we had to find an alternative exit. And the only other option was to go through the big dog's playground. Okay then, half way through the park, I saw a ball flying above my head, 3 seconds later, all the big dogs were running toward our direction. One of them looked so scary, he was skinny and tall, had a face of a human. He was particularly interested in us. I put my hands on my dog to steady him, and whispering, " dude, we gonna die, don't make a sound." I had no more hands to wheel my chair so we froze there and were surrounded by dogs. Heihei was so quiet that he almost was holding his breath as well. I was pretty impressed by his ability of risk evaluation. Fortunately, as another ball flew above us, the dogs left us alone.
Love the dog park, minus the smelly gold, minus the fury drama.
Friday, April 21, 2017
I didn’t plan to spend my Friday night working on this article. But the words of this article have been boiling and brewing in my mind for so long to a point where I am almost incapable of doing anything else. I really hope you will keep an open mind while reading this, and you will read it till the very end. I am hoping that as a result, it will change your perspective and even your life.
Krista Burling is a friend of mine. She is an outpatient. Her injury happened many years ago. She came this Tuesday for her doctor’s appointment. We were chatting in the lobby area.“I have to tell you something.” She said, “September 25th of last year, I had a really bad lung infection, I fainted and when my parents came to my rescue they could feel that my heart was beating slower and weaker. I think I died at that moment.”
She said that within a second, she was brought to Heaven, it was a beautiful world with vivid colors and magnificent view. Krista became a Christian at a very young age. She was once again in her youthful body and at the corner of her eye, she could still see her earthly body lying there. Then she saw a waterfall, it was shining like diamonds and the water droplets were in the shapes of snowflakes. She saw a light coming from behind the waterfall, a blinding light, yet her eyes were not hurt. She heard the voice of God. I stopped her and asked, “Do you think it was God the Father or Jesus.” “I believe it was the Father.” The voice said to her, “Krista, today is not your day.” Krista didn’t want to leave heaven and go back to her body of pain. She bargained with God for a while, until God said, “I will come back soon for my church.” Then she found herself in a hospital room and stayed there for the next 3 weeks before she was discharged. It took a few more weeks for her to recover fully. She was forever changed. She said that she doubted God and yelled at Him many many times in her life. But this time she was given the assurance that God is real and Heaven is real. She tells her experience to almost everyone she knows, some believed and cried with her, some brushed her off.
I had reservation when I first heard of her story, Oh, I believed in it whole heartedly. However, I wasn’t sure if I should share it, or how to share it in an effective and convincing way. I didn’t go outside of my comfort zone, I only told a few friends and family members who are already Christians. I thought, okay, let Krista tell the story in her own words. I am good, I already told a few people. BUT, today, I was talking to another lady and this time, I realize that I am the only person who can effectively share this story, I have to get this out.
This lady is an inpatient, she had her injury only a few weeks ago. She is a new comer from China, she doesn’t speak a lot of English. My colleague Ivan asked me to translate for him and become her peer support. I will call her Lee.
Lee told me that she was hit by a car while crossing the street. She had a head injury, a spinal cord injury, a wrecked shoulder and a broken pelvis. The doctor didn’t think she would make it and asked her husband to fly to Canada to prepare for her funeral. Her husband took the very next flight and didn’t even pack a luggage. As she was describing the chaos, I asked her, “did you see a light when you were in the coma?” Her eyes were wide open, “Yes! I remember, for a very long time, I saw this blinding light above my head, I was in this place that was just so, so, so bright, to a point where my eyes were hurt.”
“Did you see a colorful world?”
“No, it was just a place that was really bright.”
I asked again, “did you see a man?”
“I saw a figure wrapped in light. I think it was a woman.”
“You sure it wasn't a man?”
“It was a woman.” (My Catholic friend told me that it was Mary)
“Were you at peace?”
“I had no fear, I just felt normal.”
What amazed her was, for days, she had been telling people about this experience, which she could not explain it either. Everyone around her kept on telling her that she was in a confused mental state. I was the first person who told her what she had experienced before she even brought it up.
“Did you believe in God?”
“My landlord became a Christian all of the sudden, and she dragged me to church twice. I really didn’t learn much from it.”
“Do you know the story of Jesus?”
“Do you know the story of Jesus?”
“I think you went to heaven, or a taste of what it was like.”
She nodded and wanted me to tell her more about God next week. Before we parted, she asked, “Did you see the light?”
I never really died, my injury was never life-threatening. I didn’t see the light. But I didn’t need to see it to believe in it.I always want to write an article about heaven, but I didn’t have enough materials to make my case. What these two women told me this week gave me the courage to share my faith more boldly and shamelessly, and most importantly, it affected me. It radicalized me. The reality of Heaven, the anticipation of Christ’s return makes everything on earth matters less, it makes everything glorious.
Lastly, I just want to say, if Heaven is real, you really cannot afford not to believe in it. On the other hand, if it's not, then people like me are fools, stupid, naive, happy fools. But we cannot find out for sure until the day we die.
Lastly, here is an interview I really like, it’s done by ABC’s 20/20. Please watch it!
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Oscar woke up with a gruesome headache. He looked at the clock and it was already three in the afternoon. He got up from bed and stumbled into the bathroom. He almost fell asleep again in the shower. What happened last night and who was I with? Was it more than one? He no longer cared. When he stepped out of the shower, he saw a woman’s watch sitting strategically on his bathroom counter. He knew that it was just a scheme by her to get him out on another date. On his full length mirror, there was a heart emoji and two words written in bloody-red lipstick, “Call me.” He made a mental note to order his housekeeper to wipe it off ASAP. His gaze in the mirror shifted to his naked self and he was as usual mesmerized by what he saw --- a magnificent Greek god with eyes like emeralds, a body of a superhero, and a package that always delivers. He could stare at that masterpiece all day long. In fact, the term “narcissist” was just a term invented by the short and the ugly.
Oscar put on his robe and went downstairs to the kitchen. He grabbed a jar of orange juice and savagely poured it down the throat. He went to the dining table and was shocked to find that there was nothing on it. Where was his breakfast and lunch? And what about his daily newspaper? Oscar was furious. “Martha! Bruce!” He only heard his echo. He turned on the overhead intercom, “Martha Green and Bruce Taylor, come to the kitchen right now!” Under normal circumstances, his two servants would be running toward him like dogs racing for their bowls of chow, but not today. Oscar took out a bagel. He wanted to toast it but soon realized that he had not done it for a long time and he forgot how to set the oven. After a few trials and errors, he finally had his first bite of the day. Something is off; something is very different about today. When he finally had the energy to shout at someone again, he dialed his personal assistant’s number. No one answered the phone. With mounting anger and impatience, he dialed his driver’s number.
Oscar heard a familiar voice, but the tone was new. “What do you mean what? Where the hell is everybody? Where are Martha and Bruce?”
“Don’t you know what’s happening? Haven’t you watched the special broadcast? Idiot?”
Oscar was shocked. No one dared to call him an idiot, especially calling it in a way that copied his style. “What the fuck?! Are you high? Do you know who you are speaking to?”
“Yes douchebag, and I ain’t gonna waste another second on you. See you in hell!” The phone flat-toned.
Oscar was dumbfounded. “Special broadcast, special broadcast.” He stormed into the living room and turned on his gigantic movie screen. It was showing president Trump’s sadder-than-ever face without his larger-than-life hairdo. Damn it, Hilary was right, America has come to an end. But the red and bold text blinking beneath Trump proclaimed differently: "The World is ending in SIX DAYS!"
“Good morning fellow Americans. I speak to you one last time as the president of the greatest nation. I have catastrophic news for you and every occupant of this planet. NASA has been tracking an extinction-level asteroid during the last six months. The size of this asteroid is comparable to, if not larger than, the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. It’s h-u-g-e. The North American continent will take a direct hit. It will be the equivalent of thousands and thousands of atomic bombs exploding at once. It will trigger earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic explosions of extreme magnitudes. All lives on our continent will quickly end. In the following few months, most life on this planet will gradually die out and the human race will come to its conclusion. Thus, for all intents and purposes we only have six days left in this life as we know it, which by the way, does make me the last president of United States. Frankly speaking, I have done a tremendous job. . . Yes, there have been many rumors about this and yes, we have been denying it and keeping it classified. The reason is . . . it would not be humanly possible to prevent our doom and we did not want to cause panic around the globe. Imagine living in extreme phobia for over six months. Therefore, fellow Americans, we hope that you will spend the last six days in the company of your loved ones. It is my hope that people working in the transportation industry will sacrifice at least one day of their remaining life in helping others travel back home to reunite with their loved ones. The wall on the Mexican border has been torn down. Illegal immigrants are encouraged to go back to their homeland. . . Everyone will be released from their duty. The prisoners will be set free, except the terrorists, the mentally ill and the ones with psychopathic history. . . Allow me to go off my script to lighten things up a little bit. I cannot believe that I will say my catch line in such grave circumstances, but here goes: ‘You are all fired.’ Lastly, I want to go on the record for two more things. I understand that some people would not die without their closure . . . The Roswell UFO incident was a fact. Alien spaceships did crash at Roswell in 1947. We have been studying their remains and their vessel for decades. We have just published our findings and you can find them under the hashtag ‘aliensR4real’ . . . As to the second thing, it is more personal . . . my hair is also real, but . . .” President Trump parted his hair in the middle, and there, concealed under the golden haze was a large bald spot as barren as a skating rink.
Oscar just froze there. He pinched his arm really hard to wake himself up. When he felt the sharp pain, he was finally convinced that this was real. He looked at the clock --- he only had five days and nine hours left.
He flipped through other channels. Most of the mainstream channels had Donald Trump’s announcement playing over and over. The rest of the channels were running religious programs. There was a preacher preaching Christianity 101 to people who wanted to convert at the last minute, “When Jesus was dying on the Cross, he said to one of the thieves, ‘Today, you will be with me in paradise’. . . ” Another channel had a pastor talking about the Book of Revelation, proclaiming that Jesus Christ would return on the seventh day. There was also a channel dedicated to Muslims. It was showing footages of worshippers praying and bowing on the floor of a gigantic mosque; women in black, men in white, as if the floor was covered by a large piece of zebra skin. Oscar finally found a program for Catholics. In fact, it was the program for Catholics. It was showing a live view of a packed Saint Peter's Square. There was a small and rounded stage in the centre of the square. Pope Francis was kneeling on it and praying with his arms opening toward the sky. Not a single trace of fear was found on his face. When he uttered certain words, the corners of his lips were lifted in an expression that looked suspiciously like joy. However, the faces of his followers were telling a vast number of tales. Some people were relatively calm while uttering their prayers at a normal pace; others were literally howling with their hands high up in the air as if they were reaching for the finger of God. The rest seemed paralyzed by fear. They were leaning against each other to hold themselves up and only sighs came out of their mouths. Oscar began to evaluate his faith. He was born a Catholic, but he could not remember the last time he went to a mass or did a confession. He believed in heaven and the land flowing with milk and honey. The problem was, he didn’t believe that he would go there.
During the next hour, Oscar just sat there and reflected on his life. He was the only child. His parents had him when they were already in their late 40s. The family owned an oil company. Growing up he was extremely spoiled. To eat, he only had to part his lips; to dress, he only had to stretch out his arms. After his parents died, he inherited billions of dollars. With that much money, he had been to all of the exotic and hidden jewels on the planet. He had done all the kick-ass stuff ever invented by mankind. He even had a $1000 sundae topped by foils of gold. But in thinking about being rich, Oscar realized that all of his money and possessions meant absolutely nothing at this point. In fact, he was overcome by a novel feeling of poverty. Other than money, he had nothing: no family, no GF, no BFF, no Bro, and the last Hoe had also gone off the radar. Oh no, he came to the conclusion that he would most definitely die alone in this gigantic tomb and no amount of money could bribe someone to lay here with him.
Oscar took out the oldest and finest wine from his collection, and rolled himself a dozen joints of the dankest bud. For the next seven hours, he just sat on the floor and numbed himself the old school way. Then, all of the sudden, Oscar had an epiphany. It was still not too late. He still had time to find someone to die with and there was one thing that he had never experienced and was now desperate for --- love. Wow, that’s just profoundly cheesy. That was his last thought before he dozed off.
Oscar woke up. It took him a while to remember what had happened. President Trump’s last message was still playing on the movie screen. However, the countdown clock at the top right corner was new. It read “4 days, 14 hours, 36 minutes”.
Oscar remembered his last thought --- Looking for love. He mentally went over all of his past relationships. Because of his good looks and massive fortune, women were attracted to him like moths to a flame. Honestly, he never emotionally invested in any of them. Though he had heard stories of couples dying in the name of love, he could never ever relate to the supreme joy and the gut-wrenching pain of loving someone. If Taylor Swift had dated him, she would have written an entire album about their bad romance. Oh, he’s trouble alright. Besides love, his other primitive emotions were also duller than an average person’s. For example, he had never cried over a sad movie or real tragedies of other people. His sympathy and empathy were nearly non-existent. It never bothered him before, but now, he wondered if he might be inferior and incomplete as a human being.
Oscar went onto his social media. A handful of his ex-lovers were his Facebook friends. If they happened to not hold any grudges, perhaps he could rekindle something. On his newsfeed, almost all of his “friends” posted some kind of farewell letter addressed to their loved ones. Photos of children, pets and family portraits were attached to these letters. No one tagged him. Ellen DeGeneres and Amy Schumer still managed to use humor when addressing their fans. Yet not that many people were in the mood to click “like”. His other celebrity friends were relatively inactive. The Kardashian-Jenner clan was surprisingly quiet. Did they, like him, have much more to lose compared to average-joes? He went to his ex-lovers’ profiles and soon realized that almost all of them were now married. They had all moved on from him.
An ad was blinking on the right side of the screen. Oscar clicked on it and got redirected to a website called The Bucket List. It was cooked up in less than 24 hours. The concept was brilliant. People could post all kinds of organized activities and adventures for others to participate in. It’d be the last chance to do anything crazy and fun. There were a wide variety of activities listed. The more innocent ones included scuba diving, sky diving, bungee jumping, binge eating and drinking, etc. The more sinister ones included orgies, doing drugs, and “fifty-shading”. Been there and done it all. Finally, he found a listing that seemed to offer what he was looking for --- “Last-Minute Love”. He clicked on it and it read: “Singles, meet us at the following locations. . .” No frills. Downtown Hilton was on the list. Oscar was very familiar with that hotel so he decided to go there.
Oscar grabbed two cold and soggy bagels from the fridge and swallowed them down in five minutes. He randomly grabbed a shirt and a pair of pants from his dressing room and headed out the door without doing his hair or checking himself in the mirror. When he went to the garage, he found out that his most expensive sport car was missing. His personal assistant must have stolen it. His eyes had always glowed when seeing his car collections and he used to take tons of selfies in front of that car. That’s okay, anybody can do anything they want now. Oscar intentionally chose the most compact motorcycle in the bunch. It would be the only type of vehicle that could zig-zag through traffic --- a practical lesson learned from watching disaster movies. While riding on his bike, he was trying to recall other scenes about the Apocalypse and how many of them would be proven real. Should he have also grabbed a shotgun for the zombies?
Oscar’s mansion was located at the top of a rise. His nearest neighbor was ten minutes away. When he finally drove by his first neighbor’s house, he saw that there were many cars parked on the front yard and the driveway. The lights emanating from its many windows appeared cozy and warm. It looked more likely a family reunion at Christmas. His heart was bleeding envy. About half of the houses in the neighborhood were vacant. He could see several shadows scuttling through the bushes. Oscar gave the throttle a mighty twist and sped away toward Downtown.
Almost all of his predictions came true. The city had gone completely bananas. Car collisions were everywhere, most grocery stores and pharmacies had been rummaged and people were running around like ants under the scorching heat of a magnifying glass. Children were crying hysterically and their parents were also in tears. How many of the children, he wondered, were too young to understand what’s really going on? However, what he had not expected was that in the midst of this mayhem, there were some people behaving as cool as cucumbers. Christians were strolling down the street holding a big banner proclaiming “Last Chance” and “Only Jesus”. Others seemingly unperturbed people appeared to be seniors and people with disabilities. They were gathered in various restaurants and coffee shops, chatting like this was an ordinary day.
Oscar didn’t want to run anyone over so he found a public parking lot and parked his motorcycle there. He arrived at the Hilton hotel on foot. The hotel lobby was engulfed by a sea of people. There were five hand-written signs hanging above the reception: “straight men”, “straight women”, “gays”, “lesbians” and “whatever”. People were lining up according to their sexual orientation. Oscar found his line. He asked the man in front of him, “What is this all about? What are we lining up for?”
“We’re getting a room number and a time slot to use that room.” The man answered.
“You will be randomly assigned to a partner. What you do behind closed doors is up to you.”
“Are you suggesting that we are going to have sex with a random stranger?”
“Hey Mr. E-harmony, this is not a speed date, you don’t get to pick.”
“Why would they call it ‘last-minute love’ then? It’s misleading. This is more like ‘last-minute sex’. ” Oscar was upset.
“Mr. 40-year-old virgin, I suggest that you lose your virginity before you die.” The man turned around and didn’t want to talk to him anymore.
Oscar scanned through the women lining near him. They came in all shapes, sizes and colors. Many of them also turned around to check him out. He found it mindboggling that these women still found it necessary to put up an extravagant hairdo and their “smoky eyes” made them look like pandas. None of them could ignite his drive. But even if his match had a movie-star quality, Oscar wasn’t in the mood for raw lust. He surveyed the men in his line, and came to the realization that this whole thing was for people who could not otherwise get laid. That dude had a point, people didn’t want to die as virgins.
In a perfect world scenario, he would not mind the idea. But now, how was this any different from what he had been doing throughout his entire adult life? On the other hand, he had nowhere else to go though. He wanted to be around people, any people. He could not imagine going back to his empty home and dying with a little lady called Loneliness. Oscar was torn.
A chubby guy recognized him and ran toward him. “OMG Mr. Fancy Pants, what a delightful surprise to see you here.” Oscar could not remember who he was.
“Hey buddy. It’s been a while.” He played along.
“Let me tell you something. I follow you on Instagram, and you are the biggest fashion icon. OMG! Allow me to be bold and fierce. I have the biggest crush on you! Everything about you is just fabulous! I cannot believe my eyes! I am seeing you like right now! I am like freaking out right now! Goosebumps! Goosebumps! You are even more gorgeous in person. O-M-G! O-M-G!” His voice had this squeaky pitch and his theatrical hand gestures made Oscar dizzy. For one split second, he thought this was the gay version of Eric Stonestreet. The man continued, “Are you also part of this? Did you get your room number yet?”
“Err. . . Actually, I’m leaving. I am positive that I am leaving.” His legs were already moving.
“Wait. . .” The man took out a plastic bag from his inner pocket and gave it to Oscar. “Let me share something with you. Mix this herb with some Coke, it was what allegedly put Lamar Odom into a coma. It’s the way that I’d prefer to die.” He handed it over to Oscar like a worshipper offering a spotless lamb on the altar. Then, he gave Oscar a bear hug and rocked him from side to side. “Oh, I can die happily, right here, right now.”
“Okay, buddy. Thank you. Good luck and, see you. ” Oscar broke free and ran out of the hotel. This was definitely not the type of love he was looking for.
However, the man’s words got him thinking. He had not thought about how he would die. Was he going to wait for the asteroid to strike and burn him to death? Or was he going to commit suicide before it hit? What if the whole thing was only a false alarm? What if this was only Donald Trump’s last resort to get the Mexicans out?
On his way back home, he tried to remember if he had enough cocaine stashed in his party larder.
When Oscar reached the front of his estate, he saw that the gates were wide open and the lawn had been disfigured by tire marks. He had intruders. There were at least thirty to forty vehicles scattered around the fountain and on the front yard. He could hear music coming from inside the mansion. He had a déjà vu moment thinking this was one of the parties he used to throw every Friday night. Surprisingly, he wasn’t mad at all. It actually made him feel better that he would not be alone.
As he stepped into the house, he was completely shocked at what he saw. There were babies and toddlers everywhere. They were playing with toys, sucking on baby bottles, and running around chasing each other. His movie screen was now playing Sesame Street. His home had been transformed into a kindergarten. What de heck? What was more shocking was the fact that all of the adults in the room were acting normal. None of them were behaving like end-times lunatics, as if they must have been living in an isolated society, in a place far, far away from the rest of the civilization. He went up to one of the women, “This is my home. Can you let me know what is going on here?” The woman yelled toward the kitchen direction, “Bella! The owner is home!” A few seconds later, a young woman in an apron came out of the kitchen and ran toward Oscar. She had a pair of sky blue eyes, peaceful and radiant. No makeups, her cherry lips only moistened with lip balm. Her hair was tied up into a loose pony tail. Her curves and edges were still evident under her over-sized T-shirt. She looked so pure and simple.
“Hi, what is going on here?”
“It’s Bella. You don’t remember me?”
Oscar got that a lot. “I’m sorry. Have we met? I’m sorry. It’s been a mess.”
“We met in a bar two nights ago?” She was blushing.
Oscar searched hard in his memory. Two nights ago, he had been drinking alone at a local bar. A woman in a tight dress approached him and asked him to buy her a drink. She was already tipsy. Judging by her look, he thought that she was probably a prostitute. He was in a bad mood thus he didn’t mind her company. He bought her more than one drink. At the end, both of them got really drunk and his driver drove them to his home. He could not remember very much about what happened next, except it was meaningless as usual. But, was this girl the same woman he had spent that night with?
“Oh. . . yes I remember now. I’m sorry, I. . .”
“I think I left my watch here.” She said sheepishly.
It must be her, but. . . she looked so different now without her makeup and fancy clothes. She actually looked better and younger.
Bella took his arm and led him to a quiet spot. He surprised himself with the pleasure he felt at even that one small touch. “Well. Anyway, we can talk about that later. You must be wondering why all these people are here. Our neighborhood is currently a war zone. A local prison released their inmates and many of them had no home to go back to. Thus they began to occupy our streets and houses. We had no choice but to leave. The kids don’t have to know that the world is ending. They don’t need to know the truth. They won’t understand it anyway. We were looking for a place of peace and quietness to spend the last few days of our lives, and most importantly, shielding our children from the violence and chaos. I remember being here the night before. That’s why I led them all here, friends, church members and neighbors. We brought enough food and sleeping bags. I’d really appreciate if you could let us stay.”
“Of. . . Of course. How many people are here?”
“Over one hundred. . .”
“Yeah, not a problem. I am glad to help.”
“Thanks!! We’re preparing food. I’ll introduce you to everyone at the dinner table.” Bella ran back to the kitchen with joy and excitement. She looked like a kid in a candy shop. It made Oscar smile, but he was still confused. The woman he met two nights ago was easy and maybe a little slutty. But this girl was completely the opposite. Which one was the real her?
A dozen adults approached Oscar and introduced themselves to him. “Thank you sir. This is very generous of you. Blessings to you.”
“Not a problem. Let me take you on a tour.” Oscar guided them through the entire mansion, to rooms he had not been to for years. Even his storage places and closets were as big as a “regular” person’s bedroom. People took the initiative to move furniture and decorations around. At the end, there was room for everyone.
At dinner time, Bella acted like the hostess. She led everyone in saying grace. She also thanked God for Oscar’s hospitality. Right after the prayer, she asked all the children to say thank-you to Oscar. It made him feel like a hero. He surveyed the dishes on the buffet table: two thanks-giving style turkeys, fried chicken drumsticks, fried shrimp, Angus steaks, pork chops, triple-decker cheese burgers, salads lathered in greasy dressings, extra creamy soup, cheese cakes, chocolate fudge cakes with layers of whipped cream, chunks of fruits emerging in a large pot of chocolate fondue and a sign at the end of the table stating that “ice-cream is in the freezer”. Apparently, no one cared about calories and sodium anymore. Six men were standing behind the table to serve. The grandparents were first in line, followed by the kids, the teenagers and then their parents. Everyone looked so happy and fulfilled. You would not have believed that this would be one of their last meals. Oscar had never been to a communal feast like this. As he tasted some of the food, he was blown away by people’s “secret recipes”, or perhaps they were better because the secret ingredient was “love”. So cheesy.
Bella grabbed a chair and sat beside Oscar. “Thank you again for letting us stay.”
“No, thank you. I. . . I am really glad that you guys came.”
“Where is your family?”
“My parents passed away a few years ago. I’m the only child. I do have some relatives, but we’re not close and they live in Canada. I have a few friends, I think? I hope? But I am basically alone. If I am really honest about it, I thought I would die by myself. It was kinda scary.” Oscar didn’t know why he was so willing to show his vulnerability.
“I am also an orphan. I don’t even know who my biological parents are. My adopted parents also passed a few years ago. But all of these people are family to me.”
“They all look like they don’t know that the world is ending. Are they pretending it for the kids?”
“I think most of us are at peace. We believe in heaven, thus this won’t be the end of us.”
“What if there is no heaven? What if death is the end of everything?”
“Doesn’t matter, as long as we truly believe it at this moment.”
“I think I believe in heaven as well. I just don’t think I will go there.”
“I have been reflecting on the things that I have done and said during my life time and I am a horrible person. I deserve to die alone.”
“Hmmm. . . This is what I think. I think who you truly are will come out during these last days. When all the worldly concerns drifted to the background, and our material possessions become no longer important, then what is left is our essential. Did you see all the chaos on the street? All the violence in our broken world? People who love evil continue to harm and people who love peace still seek for peace. Perhaps you have done wrong or immoral things in the past, but I think you have a good nature.”
“I thought human nature is universally evil.”
“That, I don’t believe. I have met people who have never done anything bad in their life. They always sacrifice, love and give without condition.”
Oscar just nodded and nodded.
After the dinner was over, the women put the children to bed. The men began to clean up the dining area and the kitchen. Oscar felt the urge to join them. He had never rinsed a dirty dish in his life, but he quickly became a pro and discovered the fun in doing chores. He felt like he officially belonged to this community. Bella peeked at Oscar every chance she got. The muscles on her face felt a little sore, and that’s when she realized that she had not stopped smiling all evening.
While the children were asleep, most adults chose to stay awake and spend precious time talking with their partners. Oscar invited Bella to walk with him in the garden. Under the hazy moonlight, she looked even more angelic. In spite of the intimacy they had shared two nights ago, Oscar felt like this was someone whom he had just met. While strolling in between the bushes and the flowers, they were kept at arm’s length from each other. Even though time was ticking, he wanted to take things slowly.
“I want to ask you a question.” Oscar said.
“I probably know what it is. . .”
“The person I met at the bar, was that your superego?” He had to get to the bottom of this.
“Yes, about that. It’s a little embarrassing. The truth is, the day before I had just discovered that my fiancé had been . . . unfaithful. I completely lost it. I felt like a fool. I thought I had done everything right in our relationship. I was really good to him. I just don’t understand where I fell short. I’m sorry; you don’t want to hear about this. ”
“No, go ahead.” It was actually the first time that Oscar had gotten an insight from a woman’s standpoint. It made him think about all the hearts he had broken for no legitimate reasons other than boredom.
“I guess I wanted to punish him. That’s why on that night, I decided to let myself go and just completely defile my flesh. The saddest part was, when I heard the news about the asteroid, I wished that it had come earlier. That way, I would never find out about his cheating.”
“I see. . .”
They were silent for a good ten seconds before Oscar said, “I’m sorry, I don’t know how to comfort you. I have never been in your shoes. To be honest, I have never had my heart broken, because . . . because I have never loved.” He paused and then asked quietly, “What does love feel like?”
“It’s a physical feeling. When you are in love, the moment you see that person or even think about them, it feels like a chemical reaction is going viral inside of your head. Only love can stimulate that part of the brain that gives you enormous amount of pleasure, the type of pleasure that is beyond what sex or drugs can do. It does not come and go. It’s exciting and addictive, yet peaceful and subtle at the same time. ” Her eyes were brightening up as if she was reliving her feeling of love, yet in her eyes, he also saw hurt and disappointment.
“How many times has that happened to you?”
She chuckled. “Almost every time I am with someone. The love that I have been given is the type of love that people sing about and celebrate. But at the same time, it’s cheap, because it doesn’t take much for me to give that person my all. I can’t help it.”
Oscar thought about the women he had dumped, in particular the ones who took him forever to completely detach himself from, the ones he once considered “cheap”. It dawned on him that he was the cheap one. His love was worthless.
Bella continued in a lighter tone, “If earth still stands, I will continue to love without reservation and give without condition. That is the way true love is. ”
If earth still stands. All of a sudden, Oscar felt like death was no longer his biggest fear; rather, he was scared that he would be eternally separated from this girl. He had no desire to just take her clothes off. It would not give him as much gratification as merely listening to her voice and walking in her shadow. If lust was out of the equation, could this be love?
They spent the next few hours just talking and talking. They learned almost everything about each other, the craziest, stupidest and wildest things they had done as well as their sweetest, funniest and most awesome experiences. Oscar had never felt this happy since his first trip to the Disney World. He felt warm and maybe a little sweaty while his blood was boiling with bliss. He couldn’t believe that mere words could elicit such physical responses. Bella was right; the type of happiness he felt easily triumphed the temporary euphoria stimulated by drugs and empty sex. Inexplicable and indescribable.
When the first light peeked out from the horizon, they both stopped talking and shifted their gaze toward the grandeur beauty offered by the universe’s last bits of mercy. The sky gradually brightened, clouds came out from their hiding, and the birds began to praise. Oscar turned to Bella. Her eyes shone as dawn arrayed her in its softest light. Her blue irises reflected the sky and perfected the morning’s glory. What is the name of that hybrid color in her eyes? It was too wonderful to fathom. She turned to him and as their gazes met, he felt a warm spring flowing into his eyes and beyond, penetrating his vessels and veins. Then, hers slowly closed. He got the message and leaned forward to kiss her. An electric current shocked him the instant their lips joined. He closed his eyes to activate his other senses. He could feel her tender squeezing of his arms, smell the floral aroma of her hair and taste the sweetness of her lips. He listened harder, and heard the rhythm of both their hearts beating and the melody of their harmonized breaths. At this spot between heaven and earth, Oscar wished that time could stop and he could live in this moment forever, be captured in the Master’s painting and framed by His everlasting love. Oscar learned that he was probably going to heaven, because the gracious Creator cared about him so much that He granted him his salvation.
“Bella, will you promise that you will remember me when you see me again in Paradise?”
She gave a playful smile, then pressed a long and hard kiss on his forehead, “There, I will look for my signature.”
Thursday, September 1, 2016
I watch a lot of TV. Some choices are kinda shameful. I noticed in most reality shows, people are constantly seeking advices from others because their life is just soooo dramatic. Most of the time, I could almost guess what the advisor would say to help. Here are my top three guesses.
1: "Just be who you are. "
This is the lamest advice in the history of mankind. I remember the first time when someone gave me this advice. I was 14. I had a crush on some body, of course. I asked his friend:" I just added him to my ICQ (pre-iOS, pre-FB, pre-MSN). What should I do?" This grade 7 boy said:" just be who you are." I remember thinking, "wow, that's just so profound. Not only that, but it sounds really poetic." Though I kinda know what he meant but I still didn't know what he was saying. Nowadays, it's hard to go through a day without hearing people say, "I am who i am", "you are who you are", "It is what it is", "don't let anyone change you from being who you are", etc, etc. The reason why this is the worst advice is because, Okay, do you even know who the person is? Does the person even know who they really are? Perhaps the root of their problem is because of the fact that they are who they are? For example, when Jeb Bush hired a consultant for his campaign, the consultant told him to, you guess it, "just be who you are". Jeb was like, "I have to pay someone to tell me this?"
2:"Stay true to yourself."
This usually comes in a combo, "bro, you are who you are, just stay true to yourself. " Again, it's equally empty. But for most people, they would just nod and nod, and absorb it as if they have just been enlightened. No one wanted to appear dumb by asking back, "can you be more specific? Like, what de hell am I supposed to do? Who should I give this rose to?" Which leads to lame advice number 3.
3. "Just follow your heart."
Your heart is where your love resides, so my guess is that this proverb is asking us to follow our emotion and feeling? Right? Maybe it's a good advice to some people, but it's kinda confusing to a chink. In Chinese, we write the word think as "想”. The word heart is written as "心”. It's part of "想”. When we say "I think" we literally say it as "my heart is thinking." Therefore, am I supposed to act upon logic and reasons when I am told to "follow my heart". If I were to give out the final rose, should I give it to an eye candy --- six-pack, six feet, dripping with sexuality or should I give it to a nice guy?
To sum up everything I have said so far, I can use this lyric from one of my favourite songs, "You say it all when you say nothing at all."
There are three short and sweet advices that actually deserve more credits. They are truly helpful and practical, not to mention extremely easy to remember.
1 "Well, who cares."
A lot of times when we think we have done something stupid, we need to remember that no one cares about us. No one spends a great deal of their life remembering what you have done in your life. Everyone has their own stupidities to dwell on.
2 "Just forget it."
Yes, really helpful. I don't know about you, but I find it so easy to forget and move on. Sometimes I am not even sure if it's normal. But I guess that is just who I am. (Oops)
3 "Ohh, shut up."
It's something that I need to control myself on a daily basis. Let's face it, gossips are so juicy that it's hard not to spill it all over the place. So, before we speak, ask ourselves 5 questions: T.H.I.N.K
Is it True?
Is it Hepful?
Is it Important?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind?
If it's not any of the above, then just shut the hell up.