Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Wish (60); Peanut Butter Swiping


Huli Wigman, Tari
photo courtesy of gerhard_69 via flickr
The dirt was orange and loved to color my teva-ed feet tan. I smiled down at them. They had never felt so free. Dirty and lovin’ it. Until I stumbled on a clod that righted my wanderings, and my feet. Oops. Ouch! Ahh, yes, where was I? About to tell you a story. A story of a day in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Yes, there we are….here we go…off once again to the land of dirty, happy feet…

It was a resupply visit. To Tari. We were Peace Corps Volunteers. And hungry for familiar foods in one of the most remote areas of the world. Women sat cross-legged on the ground with small squares of cloth in front of them displaying their freshly earthed peanuts, their passion fruit and avocado, their bananas and tobacco leaves. Other women stood beside large vats of grease stirring their dough balls until just right, piping hot, dripping with old fashioned delicious fat. Mouths muttered speech I couldn’t understand, flat bed diesel trucks grumbled noisily by, and native high-pitched laughter found its way into almost every gap. It wasn’t a bright, sparkling place. Nor was it particularly beautiful. But it was unlike anything I had ever known and gave my mind reason after reason to race with fascinated curiosity. (And my belly reason to encourage my dirty, orange feet…forward)

“I can’t wait for the peanut butter,” I said to a fellow ex-pat, my mouth already watering.
 “Check before you buy!” she chuckled out at me.
“Check what?” I called after her. She turned and smiled. “The peanut butter. They swipe.”
I stored her words away with a bit of wonder, and walked on…

The store I walked toward had a tin roof, fancy for these parts and inevitably filled with the fanciest foods. Boxed cheese, tinned meats, canned margarine, things you couldn’t even buy in the US but were considered delicacies here. I could hardly wait. But the peanut butter? They swipe it?

I placed a few boxes of cheese in my basket because they were near the door and headed down the aisle toward the peanut butter. A Huli Wigman lingered a few steps ahead, his back to me, standing right where I wanted to be. In front of the peanut butter. I breathed in his scent. Woa. Nothing like it. The Wigmen rub their bodies with pig fat to make them shine…and that was only the beginning. Pungent but not rancid, intense in a way so rare I had no choice but to grow a sly smile. He turned toward me with his own sly smile. And just like that, he walked his bare orange feet away.

I looked up at the shelf. At the peanut butter. They all looked the same. Crunchy or creamy with red or blue lids. I reached for the red lid and when I did, I noticed it was a little loose. Check before you buy! So I did. I opened it. And when I did, I realized what that sly smiling Huli Wigman was doing with my beloved peanut butter. He was swiping!


*          *          *


There are an infinite number of ways to let a peanut butter swiping Huli Wigman affect you. Two are most obvious to me. The first is anger and disgust that anyone dare do such a thing without first paying and that’s not even addressing the finger cleanliness thing. Gulp. If I would’ve taken that route I think it’s fair to say, my day would have been ruined. How many times had I overlooked finger swipes? What exactly lived in my past jars of peanut butter, and how much of the ugly bits now lived in my dear belly? Gag. But you must know me well enough by now, oh don’t you dear reader? I don’t like ruined days and I certainly don’t like ugly thoughts so I chose a different interpretation of the aforementioned peanut butter swiping.

It made me laugh.

The Wigman’s action was innocent and daring and for goodness sake, one swipe probably made his belly happier than it had been all week.

But still, I chose a different jar.

*          *          *

This week my Wish for you is that you consciously choose how to interpret the events that sprinkle into your days. If a peanut butter swiping Huli Wigman can bring joy to an orange-footed dirty girl in the middle of the rainforest in Papua New Guinea, perhaps joy can be found in every situation in any place in the world.

The choice is yours.

11 comments:

  1. Yes, anger and disgust may be the reaction initially. But to respond authentically from your heart, how could one not see the pure comedy and simpicity of life in his actions.
    Sometimes what we don't know really does not hurt us, but is rather funny in retrospect. Lovely insights, Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What beautiful words. Thank you for summing it up and leaving me with a happy smile. Hugs!:)

      Delete
  2. I went to get a license plate for my motorcycle here in Mexico yesterday, but forgot the key so the 'official' could verify the serial number of the new bike.

    After some fussing, he used the serial number off my truck, then waited, expectantly for a tip. Some people might say bribe.

    I just laughed, gave him 100 pesos ($8U.S.) and asked if the registration would be ok... He said not to worry. And he was very grateful that I forget the key. His whole pay for standing out in the hot sun all day, checking under the hoods of cars and motorcycles, was 180 pesos.

    The whole episode just made sooooo much sense! Why should I drive 20 miles back to my house to get the key? And why shouldn't he be rewarded for doing a good deed.

    Because that's what he did. A good deed.

    But one thing is certain - I will check every jar of peanut butter I buy from now on.

    Nice 'presence' today...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I LOVE it! And you are soO right! Thinking beyond rules makes soo much more sense. Maybe that's why you and I adore Mexico as much as we do, my friend.:) Thanks for the smile! Hugs!

      Delete
  3. A fun story, well told. With respect to other cultures and a respect for yourself, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, dear Jodi...for sharing your thoughts and your warmth:) Hugs!

      Delete
  4. There was more than one item taken that day. I think his smile swipped your anger before you had a chance to discard it yourself, leaving you with your natural good humor and joy of life. I know you would have had the same fond view regardless, but it was kind of him to swipe the burden from you. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always love what you write, John. Here or there or anywhere, you warm my heart. What a treasure you are, my friend.

      Delete
  5. i like the Cap's idea...very much

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we always like the Capn's ideas very much, wouldn't you say?:) Love you, Jo.

      Delete
    2. yes i would - I think given the same circumstances I would be a peanut butter swiper

      Delete