by Kung Fu Zu 7/10/15
One day, during the early 1980’s I was booked on a flight from Los Angeles to Dallas. After checking in, I walked to my departure gate and waited for my plane to arrive. Since I had arrived early and there was going to be some time before takeoff, I bought the “Los Angeles Times” newspaper.
I sat down and started reading through the newspaper. Starting from the back of the paper, I finished one section after another, placing each section I had finished on a side-table next to my chair. I was half-way through paper when a man walked up to me and asked would I mind if he read the parts which I had finished. As I looked up to tell him he could, I gazed into the face of Danny Thomas.
He picked up the paper and started to read. In a moment, he started talking to me and this developed into friendly chit-chat. As we spoke, it came out that I had been living in Asia for a number of years. Upon hearing this Mr. Thomas perked up and asked me various questions about Asia and my experience there. I was pretty positive about Asia’s economic growth and future and how this might affect the USA negatively. Mr. Thomas responded by saying something to the effect that he was a JFK man and, like JFK, believed in the economic union of North and South America.
The moment Mr. Thomas said this, something came over me, and I didn’t want to continue our conversation. I am not completely sure why I had such a strong reaction, but a couple of points probably contributed to it. First, I wondered if he was trying to impress me with his liberalism. I have found older people will often do this to in order to establish a faux point of commonality with younger people who they are just meeting. Second, even in my late twenties, I was not a fan of JFK. To my mind, he was/is not the great president many claim him to be.
Anyway, in order to be rid of Mr. Thomas as politely as possible, I started to speak about things which I was pretty sure would not interest him. I pushed my earlier points about the rise of Asia and to cap it off, I mentioned that I probably agreed with Otto Spengler who wrote “The Decline of the West”. Once I mentioned that, Mr. Thomas looked at me as if to say, “What is this kid talking about?” In a few moments, he thanked me for the paper and told me it had been good talking to me. He moved away and I went back to reading my newspaper.
When I look back on this episode, I regret, somewhat, that I didn’t take the opportunity to spend more time with Mr. Thomas. He was a very nice, easy-going man. There were absolutely no “airs” about him. We were just two strangers passing the time having a pleasant conversation at the airport.
Perhaps I should have just listened, instead of trying to shoo him away with esoterica. Perhaps….but I still don’t want to hear about JFK and how great he was. • (1224 views)