Monday, February 09, 2004

Homeland security
So I got this package in the mail, something in a wide flat box. No return address, just some writing in an Asian language. It was addressed, correctly, to me by hand. There was some packing tape on it. I was baffled and suspicious, and I put it in the basement for several days. No terrorist organization is out to kill me specifically, although in a general sense I'm sure they would not object to the idea of me being dead. My wife and I had no idea who the package could be from. I recalled that I knew a guy in China, but we hadn't talked in many years. My pal Ronolulu had recently visited this mutual friend and if Ronolulu had sent me something from China he would have told me so. I talk to Ronolulu all the time. And he hadn't said anything about a package. So I went to the US Postal Service web site and found a Suspicious Mail poster:

1. Don't shake or bump.
2. Isolate it immediately.
3. Don't open, smell, touch, or taste.
4. Treat it as suspect. Call local law enforcement authorities.

So I called the local police and they came over. A really fat one and a really young one. They seemed kind of dumb. They asked me if I had any enemies, any people out to get me. My wife and I were standing in the basement with them. They picked up the package. They shook and squeezed it. They smelled it.

Finally they took it out to the street and opened it:

"Dear XXXXX,

It's been a decade since we saw each other, but the thing about old XXXXXXmen is that we never really lose complete touch with one another thanks to the networks of common friends.

...[our mutual friend] told me you've been ill, and I wanted to send along a little something to perk you up....

...A little over a week ago we started the Year of the Monkey and I went apeshit buying trinkets at several of Beijing's numerous temple fairs. The stuff on sale keeps getting better every year. Enclosed is an ornamental wall hanging sold only when Chinese lunar New Year celebrations roll around...."

Prosperity. Longevity. Peace. Health.

There was no return address or contact information, no email address in the letter. It smelled like cigarette smoke, though, so It was like sitting across the table from my pal. Wherever he may be right now. Hopefully he is going apeshit, in a good way, somewhere at this very moment.

This episode just confirms what my post-diagnosis experience, and the blog experience, have shown: that I already knew a lot of really wonderful people before this sitation, when I was too busy to connect with them.


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