Posted by: johnhourihan | July 25, 2014

Why Hawaii 5

Our internet, phone and TV have quit working today. It has happened four or five times this month. I always wonder if this is a sign of something.
It is the first month we have had them. So either aliens are messing with me, I’ve done something wrong so God is punishing me, or the modem the guy put in is bogus. And of course the first two cold be the same thing.
The pool at our condo complex is being resurfaced this week, so it is closed, and my grandchildren are being readied for the beginning of school on August 1, which left Lin and I little to do but walk around Honolulu.
So we walked.
We headed off, out past the Ala Moana Park, which had previously been the end of the world for us, and continued on to the Ward high-priced retail store center. A place I wanted to be near as much as a person with a peanut allergy wants to be eating in a Thai restaurant.
The sun beat down in the 90s, but the sweat mingled with the trade winds, cooled my body and made it bearable enough. Did I tell you Lin is younger than I am, and as we approached the stairs that climbed up to the theater I balked like a horse being led over a jump he knows better than to take. I wanted to barge up those stairs like Rocky Balboa (the young one) and jump up and down at the top.
But I knew it would kill me so my eyes frantically searched the expanse of the entryway.
“This is part of the United States,” I thought to myself, which is the only way you can actually think….to yourself, and I wondered why people say it….Then I found it just as someone shut off the trade winds and sweat took over my body in earnest.
I felt slippery as Lin called, “Where are you going?”
I was too hot and tired and slippery to answer so I nodded dejectedly at the signee that said “escalator” beside a drawing of a man on a set of slanted stairs denoting movement upwards. Under it was an arrow that pointed to the left. It occurred to me that arrows fit all languages, which made me happy. I love how we communicate with each other even in a place such as Hawaii where so many different languages are spoken.
A woman was on the down escalator as we were going up. She was Asian and had a dog. I wondered if Japanese dogs could understand dogs whose owners spoke English or Chinese, or German or well, you get the idea.
Once when I was interviewing God (I did that a lot when I was a columnist and had to produce two or three columns a week.) I asked God what his or her name might be, and he, she or it asked me, “What was the name of your first pet dog?”
“Seabee,” I answered proudly.
“No, I meant the name the other dogs called him.”
It is difficult to answer those questions from God, and since then I have had this question about animals from different parts of the world and whether o r not they understood each other, or for that matter if they understood arrows.
Then I remembered the FOXP2 gene.
That gene that has been called the language gene. It is prominent in a lot of animals and even in birds, but at some time in history it mutated in humans in such a way as to allow for language. Lately scientists are finding that it isn’t just for language but for all communication. I guess that is why we all realized that the escalator was in the direction of the arrow no matter what language we spoke, and I wondered if dogs did the same thing.
I guess not.
It seems we humans have a mutated gene that allows us to communicate better than all the other species on Earth.
I guess it was also the reason that woman cab driver shouted to us from a red light. “Hey, I’ll give you a ride to where you are going, for free.”
I guess sweat pouring down the sides of my face, my hair soaked and matted, my shirt sticking to my sides, and the expression on my face (looking like the human model for that frowny face used on facebook by people who don’t have a lot of words at their disposal) are all forms of communications that say.” I am at the end of my rope. Have pity on me.”
Lin waved her off. Did I tell you Lin is younger than I am?
And we finished our walk…3.6 miles, give or take a few dozen agonizing steps accompanied by that line from that movie, “I’m melting, I’m melting…and your little dog, too.”.
I think that FOXP2 gene may also be why all those old Japanese ladies going the opposite way on the rest of our walk were careful not to veer onto my side of the sidewalk. They must have known I was one of them, just in a different body.



  1. I’m going to check out this FOXP2 gene. I think we decided it helps us to communicate, but uses not so true facts in doing so. Mutated gene. Careful how you use it.

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