Tag Archives: Central America

Pope John Paul II in Central America 1983

 

 

I was in Costa Rica and Pope John Paul II visited Central America. As a stringer for several news organizations, I was impressed by the tight security surrounding his Eminence. I was assigned to cover the Pope’s night speech at a youth rally in a suburban soccer stadium.  The Pope’s procession approached the speaking platform by driving along a rutted road that ran along the soccer field and in front of the bleachers. Suddenly the stadium lights went out. The whole place was dark for several minutes.  When the lights came on again (whew!) the procession proceeded. Calm and unruffled,  the Pope gave his scheduled address to the youthful crowd.

Dr. Larry Day is a retired journalist and KU  J-School professor. He is working as a humor columnist and is the author of Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia available on Amazon.

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The Cosmic House Slippers©

 

I was disconsolate as I nursed a soft drink in a back booth of

The Enchantment. That’s a dingy roadhouse on the outskirts of

Letongaloosa. Every college town needs a joint like the

Enchantment to maintain its academic accreditation. The

Enchantment is where I go to have a soft drink and relax. On that

night I had gone to The Enchantment to brood. I had goofed up,

and I was feeling low. Then, happily, my robot friend Kaybe rolled up

to my booth.

Do you believe in aliens from outer space? I do. I’ve been friends

with one for decades. KB-11.2 doesn’t have green skin and luminous

eyes like the aliens one sees in sci-fi movies. Kaybe looks like a giant

tuna fish can.

Erector Set® arms sprout from the curving sides of his body,

and three spindly metal legs drop down from the underside of his flat

stainless steel torso. He has ball bearing wheels for feet. A floppy

two-foot antenna, with three sensor-eyes, stick out of the middle of

his lid. Kaybe comes from the Alpha Centauri star system. Many

years ago on a visit to Earth, Kaybe saved my marriage. Now here

he was again to cheer me up.

My wife Emmaline and I had taken a vacation to Northwest

Florida where we used to live. We had spent a lovely week at a

hotel in a room overlooking the beach. On the last day as we

packed and got ready to leave for the airport, I realized I hadn’t

packed my house slippers.

But there was not a smidgen of room in any of our luggage.

These house slippers were brown suede. And they were OLD. The

rubber sole of the right one was flapping, and the tops of both were

heavily spotted with toothpaste. So I stuffed them into an already

loaded trash basket, and walked out the door.

I felt a pang of regret immediately. I had worn those house

slippers forever. They were with us on our trips to the Smoky

Mountains, and with me on my journalistic assignments to Central

America and the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. Yet now I

had callously left them in a trash basket in a tourist hotel room far

from home. It wasn’t right.

Emmaline, practical and logical, said it was long past time to

get rid of those house slippers.

“The sole of the right one was coming off, and they were filthy,”

she said. “Filthy,” is a relative term with Emmaline. The word covers

everything from something that is undeniably dirty, to a tiny spot on

an otherwise pristine necktie.

Emmaline was right, of course. It was past time for the slippers

to go. But I loved them. And I was born in the year of the Dog. In

Chinese astrology, people who are born in the year of the dog are

innately loyal to their belongings. Even, apparently, a pair of worn

out house slippers.

As the plane took off, I thought how those dear old house

slippers would soon be lying under a heap of trash in some

malodorous landfill.

I continued to brood even after we had unpacked our

suitcases and put them back in the closet, and I had picked up the

mail that the Post Office had held for us.

“You need to go to The Enchantment,” said Emmaline. “Go

have a soft drink and get this out of your system.” That’s where I

was when Kaybe, my alien robot friend, rolled up to my booth.

Kaybe communicates and takes nourishment telepathically,

and he’s highly intuitive. Kaybe ordered a nonalcoholic beer from

the waitress, Four Finger Fannie, who is also an alien. I watched the

brew disappear from the mug without Kaybe ever having touched

it.

His words filtered into my mind, “You loved them, right?”

“Dearly,” I said. “They didn’t deserve to be abandoned like

that.”

“Then be of good cheer. Your house slippers are safe and well,”

said Kaybe. “I pulled them from the landfill, and I flung them into

space. Your dear slippers will sail happily through the galaxies

forever. Now go home and get some sleep.”

I tried. I really did. I said goodbye to the patrons at The

Enchantment, walked out and drove back into Letongaloosa.

Emmaline was asleep when I got home. I undressed in the walk-in

closet off the master bedroom and put on my pajamas. Then I

automatically tried to slide my feet into my dear old house slippers.

Duh! How dumb was that? I just walked back out to the living room

and collapsed on the sofa.

“I’ve got to get those back from outer space,” I said to

myself. It was late, but I got in the car and headed back to The

Enchantment.

Kaybe was there. He felt bad when he saw how glum I

looked, and few days later Kaybe located and retrieved my house

slippers from a Florida land fill and brought them back to

Letongaloosa. Bless him!

But I still had a problem. For Emmaline, those ratty house

slippers were objets non grata. What could I do with the sorrylooking

things?

Then I had a burst of inspiration. I would have my house slippers

near at hand without ticking Emmaline off.

Emmaline wanted me to toss the house slippers because they

were old and ratty looking. I had a plan to transform them. The idea

had come to me after Emmaline and I attended a baby’s first

birthday party and saw one of the gifts.

I transformed my ratty old house slippers from objects of scorn

to objets d’art. And now the dear old things occupy a prominent

place on my office shelf—as bronzed bookends.

-30-

 

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