Wonder 50


I’ve started writing a new book. I’m not sure if it’s a children’s book or a novel for adults. Maybe it’ll be one that crosses generations.

It’s about a friendship between a boy and a man.


The boy lives with his mom and his aunt. His dad’s in his life, but not a regular presence.

Through the friendship, the boy and the man each gain something.

On my morning jog, I thought about a bit of dialogue between them that I want to write.


“How come you look so serious?” the boy asks the man.

“Serious?” replies the man. “Do I look serious?”

“You’re not smiling,” says the boy.

“Ah,” says the man. “I am a smile-saver.”

“What’s that?”

“That’s one who reserves smiles for those times when life is ripe, and when we feel, way deep in our center, a feeling like sparkling lights that travels up, and when it reaches our face, we smile. That’s a real smile.”

“And then,” says the boy, “the sparkles travel out through your eyes, right?”

“That’s right,” says the man, smiling a genuine smile with eyes shining.


I’m not sure. When I play that dialogue through my mind, it leaves such a wistful feeling.

Jake and I really did talk about genuine smiles. Will it be too sad to write that in this novel? Will it even make sense?

I wonder what forms a friendship. What was there between me and Jake, and how did we manage to stay good friends to the end?


I realize that this is a rite of passage. Mãe, Pai, and Tia Berry are all about the same age as Jake. I’m moving into a time of my life when I’ll be faced with a string of good-byes.

What’s the next step? What’s the more in my life that I want?

In the evening, Lucas called to invite me to join him at a bar in the desert.

“They’ve got this weird thing going on,” he said. “Not exactly a cult, but something strange. You’ve heard of the bear-suit people? They dress up in bear-suits and scare everybody. It’s supposed to be a riot.”


When we arrived, I saw my friend and patient Bria Louis, who’s a police officer, and down the street from her, someone in a bear-suit walked towards the bar.


“These bear-suit guys make me nuts!” Bria said when she reached us. “They’re not exactly breaking any rules, but wherever they show up, stuff happens! Like, illegal stuff! And I would be the one to pull the bear-suit duty. Just my luck!”

“Don’t worry!” I said. “Lucas and I are here. Anybody tries to pull anything, and we’ll straighten it all out. We’ve got this covered.”

“Speak for yourself,” said Lucas. “I just remembered I’ve got something I need to do at home.”


After Lucas left, a blonde in a yellow evening gown approached us.

“I can’t find my date,” she said. “Have you seen a tall guy in a bear-suit?”

“I’m sure he’ll be along,” I said. “And that’s a gorgeous shade of yellow, by the way. Like a daffodil!”


Her date showed up a bit later. We sat together at the bar.

“We’re getting married soon,” the bear said, “me and my gal.”

“That’s great!” I replied. “Fill the den with a bunch of cubs, huh?”

“That’s the idea,” he said.


And I felt that hollow feeling again, only a little more pronounced. There was something I wanted in my life. What was it?

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