recently attended a circus wedding. I’m referring to a circus-themed
wedding, not a wedding “under the big top,” though there were a great
deal of fanciful shenanigans and enough clowning around that one might
have difficulty differentiating the two.
Near the tented entrance
stood a table replete with circus-oriented curiosities presented as
tokens for the enjoyment of the guests. One could enthusiastically
snatch up an adhesive Dudley Do-Right mustache or enjoy a taste of pure
spun, sugar candy. Or, perhaps the more pragmatic guest (with December
being right ’round the corner) might choose one of the red foam noses,
making it doubly useful for Christmastime. But for me, it seemed a risky
temptation of fate to choose the mustache as I had recently seen tiny
hairs sprouting from my upper lip where there’d once been none. And,
although easily tempted by candy, I admit to being somewhat of a cotton
candy snob by believing that consuming it from a pre-packaged bucket
robbed it of all the delights of its intended fluffy purpose and sticky
intentions. My lack of pragmatism (but to my credit, my knowledge of
that lack) eschewed me from the red foam nose as I would never be able
to locate it in its time of need. Surely it would reappear one day from
behind a dresser or from under a pile of books during a cleaning spree,
probably around Easter, thereby making it a moot point at the end of my
I was about to exercise my freedom not to choose, which is
out of character for me as I love a freebie, when I noticed something
magically appear on the third of the three-ringed centerpiece.
Life-like, tiny human hands, each perched atop a straw, were placed in a
vase to impersonate a diminutive bouquet of beige daffodils. There was a
diabolical loveliness about them, and I was instantly amused. Without
thought or hesitation I shook one free from its previous arrangement and
chose the finger puppet of a tiny human hand to accompany me throughout
The tiny hand and I did not part company anytime
soon. In the weeks that followed, I would often pull down my shirt
sleeve and place the tiny hand onto my finger to allow the doll-sized,
life-like version do my bidding. I shared tiny, nickel-sized, high-fives
with the energetic grocery boys who loaded my trunk. To alleviate the
monotony of bored waiters and waitresses, I tapped it against my cheek
at restaurants as if trying to make a difficult menu decision. I sat in
my car at stoplights and stroked my chin with the tiny hand, offering
fellow drivers the sight of someone pondering the universe, and gave
them an amusing story to share at the dinner table or between office
cubicles. All of these tiny acts seemed to bring humor in some tiny way.
And to think that I had a hand in that.
I grew quite fond of the
Lilliputian extremity and its fleshy rubber digits, each the size of a
matchstick-so fond, in fact, that I carried it with me in my purse, like
a small phalangeal talisman. Then one day, I saw the opportunity to use
my tiny hand to forge a bond with my teenage son. He and I were in the
car together running errands, albeit somewhat begrudgingly on his part,
and I could tell by the impatient fidgeting and ebbing conversation that
he was becoming winded with fatigue by the process. Young people today
have no stamina against the waves of boredom that beat incessantly
against the shores of everyday life, so I took swift action and made a
hasty decision, the same way I make so many-robust with good intentions
and complete lack of forethought. I spared not even a moment to consider
how this action would be perceived. I was going rogue.
into the drive-through lane of his favorite fast food haunt, and he sat
upright with the exited expression of a dog who hears Kibbles falling
into a bowl. We placed our order, and I opened my purse to retrieve my
credit card. There sat the tiny hand, waving to me with a
friendly-hello. Even tiny gestures deserve recognition.
down my sleeve, placed the miniature fleshy hand, finger-puppet style,
onto my index finger, and wedged my credit card between its rubbery
phalanges. My son stared at me and, with the teenaged economy of words
said merely, “uh-uh, no way.” I interpreted this to mean-do it! I know
teenaged-boy language. With the whoosh of the opening of the car window,
I extended my arm towards the unsuspecting employee who was
simultaneously reaching through his window to obtain my payment. He
flinched and reflectively withdrew, but after a brief pause, he saw the
humor of my tiny hand, now peeking from the end of my covered fist, and
proceeded to extract my credit card from its minuscule grip.
ensuing laughter grew exponentially until becoming what one in this
milieu could only define as being “biggie sized,” and the mortification
mixed with fascination emanating from my son was as satisfying as
applause to a comedian. Comedy does not need to be a market produced and
consumed solely by the young; we elderly can be wickedly whimsical.
employee, still captivated by the tomfoolery, returned my card, being
ever so careful as he wedged it between the tiny hand’s flexible
fingers. As he delivered our fried fare, he announced that the laughter
was worth more than the food, and it would therefore be, “On me”- which I
mistook to mean the joke, not the food. I departed with a tiny wave, a
miniature salute, and a polite “Thank You.”
As I pulled away, my
son looked at the receipt and announced, “Damn, Dang… it was free,
seriously!” to indicate that our meal had, indeed, been issued
complimentary. I was surprised, flattered, and touched that my
capricious act had brought about such gut-filling happiness-twice, as I
watched my teenager down a dozen chicken nuggety things, empty a carton
of fries and flush the entire wad down with a liter of soda. So, who
says you can’t feed a family on laughter. Talk about a happy meal.
later in an office supply store, in search of the perfect fine tip
marker, the previous act of kindness and generosity on behalf of the
fast food employee was still permeating the air, like the aura of
perfume. I couldn’t shake this happy mist in my midst, nor did I try; I
wallowed in it. It would not, however, be fully experienced (even after
obtaining the perfect fine tip marker) until it was fully acknowledged.
This act of kindness required retaliation of the cleverest kind.
and happy, my teenager wanted to return home at this high point in the
day, but I pushed him to his limits by saying, “But wait, there’s more”
and he slumps back down in the seat. “We need gas… fuel, petrol” to
which there is no response. I pulled into the station and park, not near
the pump, but near the door. He made no movement to release the
seatbelt, indicating his intention to wait in the car. Once again, I
used my maternal lubricant to pry him free of his own stubbornness.
“I’ll by you an ice cream, you big baby.” He gets out of the car and, as
he’s been taught to do, holds the door as we enter the store together.
the friendly, young cashier rang up the ice cream, I asked her for the
one single, solitary item I came in for. “Which type of lottery ticket
would you like?” was all she said, before a barrage of questions and
recommendations came shooting forth from the helpful crowd of strangers
in the store. I was naively unaware that this request would come with
options or spark such assistance. “I want a random one for the next
multi-million-dollar thingy.” And then I added, “Wait. I need two.” I
turned to the ice cream eater and said, “One will be for us.”
to the Fast Food establishment and tearing past the squawk box, I
pulled up to the window. The same employee was still there. He pushed
open his window, looking confused, as I had placed no order. This time
he saw a lottery ticket folded charmingly in the tiny hand and securely
wedged between the fleshy digits. “This is for you,” I said. He took the
ticket and looked at it with a mix of surprise and confusion. I
continued, “It’s the Lucky for Life ticket. Drawing is tonight at
eleven. What you did before was very generous and now I’m paying it
forward, and well, backwards, too, I suppose. I hope you win a bazillion
dollars and when you do, I hope you do a lot of nice stuff for a lot of
people. Have a great day.” I peeled off, leaving the plastic nametag on
his shirt still unread.
The silence in the car lasted through
three stoplights before my teenager spoke, “If we win, I get half,
right?” he asked, between licks.
I slap the tiny hand to my
wrinkled forehead, “Eureka!” I said to my son, who was busy shoving the
ice cream down his pie hole. “Even better than that,” I said, “I’ll
double your investment, which is… oh wait… you failed to invest,
so-nada. You’ll get, nada.” I burst open with laughter, and although he
tried ever so hard to look unamused, I saw the invisible smile on his
He shook his head and mumbled through the mash in his mouth, “That was cool, Mom. I wish I’d have gotten it on Snapchat.”
following day, the newspaper headline read FAST FOOD WORKER WINS
LOTTERY. The story that followed: Anonymous, small-handed, old woman
donates lottery ticket to fast food worker who wins THE BIGGIE. Mr.
Lucas Petitemain, in honor of his wounded warrior brother, plans to
establish a foundation to provide bionic limbs to those in need.