Once again, we attend the popular fund and conscious raising event held by the medical students at Ross University for the Salybia Mission Project…a pig roast on the beach.
The man in charge of the pig and I are chatting.
“How did you end up with this job?” I ask. “I volunteered,” says he.
“What do you do when you aren’t barbequing pork?” I ask. “Tend my garden,” he replies.
“Farmer?” I ask. “No, gardener. Farming is for others; gardening is for me,” he elucidates.
“Ever see ‘Being There?” I query. “Sure. Peter Sellers. I like to watch too.”
We sip our beer. He pours some on the pig.
A young lady, a future doctor, joins us by the roast. She enters into our conversation.
“Where are you from?” she asks the cook. “Dominica,” he says.
“You are not a student then?” she asks. “Not at the medical school, no.” he answers.
Turning her attention to me, she asks, “Where are you from?” “Dominica,” I say, “and I’m not at the school either.”
“Where were you born, then?” she demands, not satisfied with my answer, true as it is. “Canada,” I give her.
“I was there for a while,” the cook says, “a few years ago.”
“Tending a garden?” I ask with a smile.
“No, attending McGill in Montreal.”
“What did you study?” asks our lady friend. “I ended up with a degree in linguistics,” he tells her.
“Oh, so what do you do now then?” she wants to know. “Tend my garden and hang out at the beach,” he says.
“What about your degree?” she asks.
“Oh, well, it did not help me much in communicating with my plants, so I leave it in my underwear drawer,” he says.
It must have been the beer; I could not resist. “What do you call a sly language specialist?” I ask.
He smiles as if he has been waiting for this, “A cunning linguist,” he affirms.
“Men are such pigs,” she retorts. “Ah yes. The pig is ready. Bring your plate, I’ll cut you a nice piece,” he says.
“Another libation?” I ask. I go to grab three more beers for us…one for him, one for me and one to pour on the pig. The lady is drinking rum punch. I bring one of those too.
Later, at sunset, one of the students I met at the previous event shows up. “Do you remember me?” he asks.
“Sure,” I say, “you are kind of unforgettable. Not too many guys are as big as you.”
“Well, do you remember our last conversation?” he asks. “Uh, no, I don’t.” I reply.
“We were in the sea drinking beer,” he reminds me. “Yes, that I remember,” I tell him.
“Well, you were saying that there are many odd things in this world that can’t be explained by our text books.”
I now vaguely remember saying something about the body’s energetic systems and spontaneous healings. “Ok. Yes, I remember some of that.”
“Well, let me tell you something very weird that happened during the break between semesters. It is about my magical bum.”
“You have a magical bum?” I ask, “ is that part of your anatomy course?” That gets a chuckle. “No, no. I’m serious,” he says. “Let me tell you the story. Just listen.”
“I was back in Florida during break. Out with some friends at a bar to watch the ball game. I went outside to my car for a smoke, had just lit up when I was approached by this bum, a street person. He asked if he could share my doobie. I gave some thought to what diseases I could get but decided to go ahead. It started to rain, so we sat in my car and shared the smoke. There was an old pair of my sneakers on the floor. He asked me for them. Somewhat reluctantly and resentfully, I said yes. By now, we had finished the smoke and I was ready to go back in to the game. I said so. ‘Hang on a minute’ he tells me, ‘I have something to show you. He pulls out a newspaper from his jacket, opens it up to the sports page and shows me. It is today’s paper. He rotates it and shows it to me again.
It is yesterday’s sports page. ‘Cool trick,’ I say. ‘Watch this,’ he says. He rotates it the other way and shows it to me. Today’s sport page. ‘OK, very cool,’ I tell him. ‘Now watch’ he says and rotates it again to show me tomorrow’s sport page. ‘Take a look a the Gator’s game score.’ I do. “That’s it,” he says, folding the paper and sticking it back in his coat pocket. ‘Thanks for the smoke and the shoes,” he says as he gets out of the car and walks away. I go back in the bar and watch the game. The score turns out to be what the magical bum showed me in the paper. What do you think of that?”
“Must have been good smoke,” I say with a smile. “Don’t do that,” he says. “This really happened and I am still all f*#%ed about it. What do you think? I thought you’d understand. Everybody else I tell thinks I am crazy.”
“I think you are lucky,” I tell him, “first, to have had the experience and second, to not deny or forget it like most would. Life is full of magic. Most people don’t notice or don’t want to see it. That’s why they prefer to think you are crazy. It makes it easier for them to deny all the other unexplainable events in the world they don’t really understand but like to pretend fit into what they can know and identify.”
“I don’t know if I wanted to see this kind of stuff either,” he tells me. “Besides, if the guy could do that kind of stuff, why is he just some street bum? He could probably do really well betting on the games.”
“Maybe he was in disguise,” I suggest. “It’s an old trick, pretending to be a beggar by the side of the road. Only a few will demonstrate their compassion and thus deserve the magic that follows.”