Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In the Lap of Luxury


The Chinese buffet I visited last week was different in that you select your fortune cookie from a big box near the exit.  Since no Chinese meal is complete without seeing one’s “fortune” spelled out on that small wisp of paper at the end, my hand dipped into the box to grab a cookie on my way out the door, and I tore open the plastic wrapper on my way to the car and didn’t crack open the crisp cookie until I was already seat belted in and nearly ready to roll.  There it was!  My “fortune!”  


 Well my first thought was, Yeah.  Right!, when I saw, “You will be surrounded by luxury," right there, blue on white.  With nowhere else to put it I dropped the paper into the small well on the car door that’s there for you to put your fingers in when you’re closing the door and without thinking exchanged it for one of the plastic toothpicks I keep handy there for picking, among other things, the remnants of large clams from my front teeth after a visit to the Chinese buffet.

When I got home I grabbed the small paper from the door handle well and brought it into the house, and as per my usual custom I laid it here on the computer desk.  To be certain, I have no idea why I do that with those little fortune slips, but I’ve been doing it since I can’t remember when.  They’ll sit here collecting dust with my eyes falling on them dozens of times before each one eventually gets tossed into the trash without ceremony.  I pay them no heed, never pretending that they have the least bit of magic, but now and then I do get one that gives me some cause to pause and take stock.

You will be surrounded by luxury.

I don’t know how many times I glanced at this one and scoffed, but it sat here collecting my derision like a dandelion collecting dewdrops in the morning haze for at least a week before I photographed it and tossed it away.  I suspect that in taking a picture of it I knew somewhere in the back of my mind I wasn’t quite done processing it yet, but no thoughts had coalesced before I got tired of looking at it.  It wasn’t until this morning that I gave the words any thought, and when I did I realized that they were at the very least some food for thought and blog post fodder.

My maternal grandfather is often my measuring stick in life.  He was my first hero and hardly a day goes by since I lost him to cancer when I was 11 that I don’t think of him in some way, usually with a large smile or a broad grin.  He was a “character” long before the USA Network touted the inclusivity of such folks with their, “Characters welcome,” slogan.  He had a sly and wry sense of humor, and I believe it was he who taught me by example the simple joy of embracing life and wringing from it every last bit of happiness and mirth that could be gotten from it.

I think of him in light of, “You will be surrounded by luxury,” and I find it hard to grasp that many of the luxuries I enjoy on a daily basis, my dear grandfather never knew.  The only style of telephone he ever knew was the old black bakelite rotary standard.  He never even dreamed of something coming like the computer.  And, although they existed at the time, my dear Gramps never rode a scooter.  He was the kind of guy who went to work in a dress shirt and tie and didn’t take them off till he went to bed.  How I’d love to be able to go back and get him on the back of the Piaggio to let his always perfectly combed hair fly in the breeze.  I think it would repay him at least in some small part for all the magic he gave to me in his simple lessons about life that weren’t lessons at all, but just the simple love of a man for his grandchild made manifest each day with the simple luxuries of the times that he had available to him.

I suppose, when we consider the past, we’re all surrounded by luxury.  Although sometimes I lament that I’ll be gone from this earth before even cooler and more amazing things come down the pike, all I really need to do to appreciate how far we’ve come is to look at my cell phone and imagine what my grandpop would have thought to see such a thing back when luxury to me meant a sip of his beer and a nibble of cheese while watching Lawrence Welk on a Saturday night and smelling the chicken soup simmering in the kitchen for the appetizer before Sunday dinner.

Surrounded by luxury?  I've always been.  I am.  No mansion, no yacht, but appreciative of all I have, which is the best luxury of all.

No comments: