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The theme tune to Bonanza 0

Dear Bradshaw,

Arriving early for my lesson, I decided to continue down the street to the nearby park. As all the benches were taken, I found a shady area near some flowering bushes, opened my book, and stood there reading. Coming to the end of a chapter, I glanced up while turning the page and noticed someone walking towards me. She was fiddling with her camera, adjusting the ISO or deleting photos I thought, and since I was standing on the pathway near the park’s entrance, I regarded her approach as normal.

Then it happened. While passing, she suddenly raised her camera, aimed it at me, and snapped a shot. As she walked away, she said something that sounded like, “Geduf” and because she was a light-skinned, straw-haired girl, I assumed she had spoken Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish or some other northern European language.

It was a harmless though curious experience, and I couldn’t help but wonder why she had taken a picture of me. Is there something bizarre about a man standing in the shade of a park while reading a book? After all, I wasn’t wearing a codpiece or balancing on my head on the branch of a tree while whistling the theme tune to Bonanza. Is my nose crooked? Do my ears stick out? Was my balding pate shining like a star? Did she perhaps think I was a human statue, or mistake me for Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, or some other Hollywood celebrity? Most importantly, Shaw, is this question: am I going to find myself on next month’s cover of Idiot Magazine?

Are you familiar with the parable of the poisoned arrow? Buddha told about a man who was shot by a poisoned arrow. He was rushed to a hospital and while the doctor was removing the arrow the man said, “Wait a minute! Before you pull out that arrow, I want to know who shot it, what kind of wood it is made of, and from which type of bird the feather at the arrow’s end comes from?” Point is, of course, the man is going to die before he learns the answers to those questions.

Which reminds me of that time we were at the train station in Prague and the conductor passed us while waving his arms at one of the trains, yelling, “Okay, shooshty booshty!” I was in Prague again last weekend and asked several people what “shooshy booshty” means, explaining the circumstances in which I’d heard it, and nobody (not the stewardess on the airplane, the manager at the hotel we stayed at, the guide of our city tour, the bartender at one of the bars we frequented) had any idea.

Jeez, Shaw, who cares, right? If I don’t get it together, I’ll go to the grave with a thousand unanswered (and unanswerable) questions weighing on my mind: Why are we here? Does God exist? Is there an afterlife? Why did that girl take a picture of me? Anyway, I realize it’s a waste of time wondering or worrying about such things — like the man who was shot by the poisoned arrow — but, well, still, if you ever find out what “shooshty booshty” means, I’m all ears.

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