This story goes a ways back…and it’s really a story about Chinese arithmetic.
My Home Sweet Home was on Ka Onohi Street in Aiea, Hawaii.
It was beautiful. Two miles up Aiea hill, Diamond Head and Honolulu on the left, Barbers Point on the right, Pearl Harbor and Ford Island, right in the middle…glorious.
The house was great. Big family room with louvered glass on three sides to enjoy the view and let the trade winds flow through. Giant lanai in the back. Pool. Hot tub. Pool cabana house. It was glorious. A little closer to the neighbors than I was used to (they really pack the houses close on the more scenic hills of Oahu…but I didn’t mind – and neither did the two or three fellow Army helicopter pilots that I lived with.)
But you know what? Like most of you, I’ve always believed that it isn’t the beauty of the home that really matters. It’s the wonderful memories of a place that makes “that one home”, your favorite home – your home sweet home.
Like, you know, the intimate social gatherings that we hosted every few weeks… for 100 or so special friends…
What? 30 Army aviators and 70 hot tourist chicks that we met on the beaches of Waikiki are a “gathering”…and solo cups dipped into a 20 gallon cooler of hunch punch gets everybody “sociable”…and hell, by the time you get down to just the chopped fruit at the bottom…well…things got downright “intimate”…
Sadly, warm memories of any home, require… well… memories…
And, at the time, I was too spirited in my enthusiasms to sit down and write a list of all of that goodness.
Luckily for me…and helpfully for this story…such a list was compiled for me…and delivered to me…by registered mail.
It was a pretty comprehensive list, too.
Loud music late into the night from our family room glass disco – check.
Excessive drinking of high octane, befruited, Hunch punch on the lanai deck – check.
A hundred illegally parked cars on the street, front yard, and side yard – check.
Rambunctious revelry by over-served, semi-clad coeds in the hot tub – check.
An endless cycle of naked young men and women jumping off the roof into the pool, people having sex in plain view on top of illegally parked cars, and repeated visits by the local constabulary to restore order – check, check, and check.
I’m grateful now for that list compilation.
But at the time, I was a little hurt by the form that it took.
It was a petition for my landlord to evict us from the premises…and it was signed by 26 of my neighbors.
And they threatened to send it to my absentee landlord… in Taiwan… if we didn’t straighten up and fly right.
Now, I was a little shocked and hurt by this. Because, if I stood on my roof. (Which I often did) And I actually took a look around and counted houses… you know…instead of standing there naked…hollerin’ at the people in the pool to make room for the best cannon ball eva…well, I don’t think that I could’ve even counted 26 roof tops. I mean, this petition thing was a real grassroots effort on their part. Which I admire.
Naturally, I was a little hurt to be excluded from what had to be the major neighborhood event of the whole year. Because this whole time, I thought the parties that me, Dan, and Kevin threw were the major neighborhood events of the year.
So, I figured this petition was a “cry for help” that begged for a serious uptick in my neighborliness.
So, what to do? Well, what I did was – I added a few things to their list of transgressions that they had missed, I signed my name to the petition (you know, just to be neighborly), and I invited them to drop by the next party that coming weekend and try not to be such squares.
Well, you don’t need a PhD. in Chinese arithmetic to figure out that I got the math on that one wrong.
This wasn’t the contrite response that they were hoping for. Because 4 days later, the Sunday after our next Hunch punch blowout, I was surprised by an impromptu property inspection by the absentee landlord… who had flown all the way from Taiwan to do so.
Everything went ok with the inspection until we got to the “white” area rug in the front room disco lounge.
Apparently it’s harder than we thought it would be for the girls to both dance and keep the grain alcohol infused blue berries, strawberries, grapes, and pineapple chunks in their solo cups.
And so, that white rug looked like a crime scene where all four of the Fruit of the Loom guys met with foul play in a gruesome multiple-homicide by chainsaw sorta deal.
Now, I don’t know how to speak Chinese or Taiwanese or whatever it was that she was laying on me. But, I did have to take this mandatory “Cultural Sensitivity Training Class” before we went to Korea for Army training. And on account of that training I was able to infer from all of the mouth covering, arm waving, appeals to Heaven, and finger pointing that accompanied the machine-gun staccato of her unintelligible words that she was less than pleased about the state of the “white” area rug in the family room disco lounge.
Our lease was not renewed.
A few days later came my first painful lesson in Chinese arithmetic because she came over with the dry cleaning bill and an abacus. Click click click. Slide, click, slide, click…
Or more precisely, the exact amount of our security deposit.
Common Core hurts? Pshaw.
Chinese arithmetic hurts.