“I don’t give a rats ass what you’re thinking” and he tapped the rubber end at the bottom of his wooden cane against the floor of the gazebo for emphasis. As if he could make it an exclamation point.
A quick glance around the cemetery grounds proved that we were alone. I groaned inwardly, almost decided to leave and then became angry, so I turned to the old man who had plunked himself directly next to me, “But I didn’t SAY anything!”
“Exactly!” he shot back, “which is why I said I don’t give a rats ass what you’re thinking.”
“Fine,” I said, “I was thinking that if you had to come sit here, you didn’t have to sit yourself right next to me, there’s plenty of room over there!” I pointed at the bench across the small space from us.
He rose and shuffled over to the bench and sat down opposite me, “See?” he said, “If more people actually said what they were thinking, there would be less war.”
I sized him up, what if he was a nut and had plans to eat my brain for dinner? What if his cane was really a lethal weapon? What if there was a camera in the mesh on that wide brimmed canvas safari hat? I wondered if there was a pale strip of white skin under the band of leather that covered the top of his smooth, very tanned, sandaled feet. Birkenstocks, this old dude was wearing Birkenstocks. I looked up into his face. His blue eyes were bright, clear. Lucid. I relaxed, “Now I was thinking that you could be a lunatic and your cane a weapon!”
He waved his cane slightly in the air between us and then on the floor like a broom, “I suppose it could be a weapon, but it is very useful for getting stuff out of my way.” We both chuckled and I said, “I was also thinking that I’d like to get my Great Grandmother some of those pretty plastic flowers for her resting place, but I don’t know. I don’t want to upset anyone.”
He tilted his head slightly at me and appeared to care what I was thinking. It was funny and ironic at the same time and we both knew it, so I continued, “I was adopted. I don’t know anyone in my biological family and they don’t care to know me. When I found out who my family was, I did some research and discovered that this was where some of my Grandparents were buried. Weird thing is, I’ve been coming to Joshua Tree all my life. In fact, my adopted mother lives here now. I’m visiting her. Anyway, I’ve given workshops at the Institute of Mental Physics and climbed all over the National Monument with my kids and my friends. It’s a special place for me.”
He leaned forward and rested his chin on his hands at the curve at the top of his cane, “Why do you give a rats ass what they think? Clearly they don’t give a rats ass what you think. Did they ask you? Go get your granny some pretty plastic flowers. She certainly doesn’t care, and you’ll feel better.” I smiled. He was right.
And I did.