Saturday, March 22, 2008

Walking Chinese


Years ago when Brad was just a toddler we were at the airport waiting for a flight to arrive.  The airport wasn't very busy that day and the terminal gate that we were at was almost vacant.  As Amy and Brad were both pretty young this allowed them to be less restricted while we waited.  I don't remember why we were at the airport.  It seems like we were there to pick someone up.  We were enjoying the moment being together, talking with each other and enjoying a beautiful day.

After a while the kids started to get a little more restless so we let them wander a little bit.  Brad was very young.  He was walking with relative confidence but was too young to leave unattended.  His hair was extremely blonde and by our judgement he was very cute.  

As I remember the long and wide corridor that spanned the terminal and led to the various gates, was covered with shining floor tile.  This spacious area proved to be quite appealing to Brad and he decided to navigate it solo.  Since there were very few people around, we decided to let him run.  He walked to the corridor and began an exploratory tour on his own.  There were many interesting things to see.  Television monitors, endless banks of chairs, flight boards, endless windows, airplanes and people.

Of course we initially watched him like a hawk.  We would occasionally walk to where he was when he started to stray too far and we would herd him back to an appropriately observable vantage point.  How long we were at the airport I don't exactly recall, but it was probably at least "2 Cosby shows".  That was one of our families common time measurement devices, often used when we were in the car traveling.

After one of these minor herding episodes, Brad quickly, small legs and all immediately began another exploratory journal down the expansive terminal.

It seemed like only seconds had passed when I looked up toward the corridor to determine Brad's exact location.  I immediately spied a sage and wise looking older Chinese man walking slowly down the middle of the pathway.  I instantly estimated his age to be late seventies or early eighties.  His kindly face projected a sense of calm and wisdom, a countenance that was probably earned through decades of tempered experiences.  The stride of his steps were quite short, but relatively fast paced.  Indicative that he was anxious to meet some long separated loved one.  He walked purposefully but, I suspect with some pain.  This was evidenced by the obvious and prominent hunch of this back and the confident supportive use of a well weathered cane.  He held his left hand backward to provide some to his presumable painful back.   His height probably spanned less then five feet.

I have always enjoyed people watching.  Airports are a great place to observe total strangers, to consider their choice of attire and grooming, and to deduce their life's story.  It is intriguing to me how quickly judgements can be formed, that further analysis would probably verify.  Such was my split second deduction this day.  

My field of vision had been slightly obscured by a pillar or something, but I immediately noticed motion directly behind this iconic figure.  The speed to which my mind had completed analyzing the oriental gentleman's persona, pales in comparison to my immediate comprehension of the slight figure that moved in unison behind him.  

It has been said that miming is one of the more difficult of the performance arts.  It's has also be reported that imitation is the greatest form or flattery.  Somewhere between mimic and impersonator stood my son less than three paces behind the old man.  In less amount of time than it would take to successfully blink my eyes, my brain had comprehended that Brad had assimilated a majority of the physical features in unison with the old man.  The shortness of his stride; the crook of his back; the left hand placed strategically on his back suggesting pain; the right hand mocking holding a cane; and the expression of an old man were all perfectly matched in detail and scope to the that of the old man whom he was mimicking and closely following.

Never has a parent been so proud of the detail of this performance and yet simultaneously so mortified of the potential for repercussions.  Michelangelo would have been envious of Brad's mastery of detail.   It was artistry in motion.  In my minds eye I saw my son's name demonstrably emblazoned on a Broadway marquee.  

I instinctively arose in ovation and like O.J. Simpson in a Hertz commercial sprinted to embrace him.   I called upon all of my powers of discipline to repress even a hint of smile and pride and whisked him off the stage of his masterful performance.  Like the formidable rotating virtual reality cameras of a Google local mobile, my eyes scanned the perimeter of the terminal to assess the size of his audience and we quickly retreated to the relative obscurity of the vinyl chairs of gate C23 at the Salt Lake International Airport .  Only then and after expiring a formidable volume of carbon-dioxide did I smile the proud grin of a startled but adoring parent.

4 comments:

Amy said...

Great story! I love your descriptions.

The Bradford said...

ME!?!?! i would never do that!! haha

Hugh said...

I attempted to comment on this before but I must have been captcha deficient. Anyway, great story, your a seriously good writer. Ever thought about publishing a book?

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