The Secret Lives of Diaries

Thumbing It

Posted in Characters,Memories by secretlives on March 21, 2006

Hitch Hiker.jpg

It is September 14, 1973.  I’m living in Victoria, British Columbia. I attend the University of Victoria and am studying to be a high school teacher; I’m 22 years old.  As I walk down Douglas Street I see a fellow holding out a sign on 8.5″X11″ paper, to all the passersby.  Finding this odd, I look at it and this is what I later write (I can remember the fellow clearly now as if it were yesterday).


September 14, 1973

This afternoon I met a straw-hatted fellow on Douglas Street who held up a sheet of paper for all to see.  When I saw him there, smiling beneath his broad hat, I felt curious; I went up to him and read a poem he had written.  It was called “Thumb”, and beside the poem he had drawn a sketch of a large thumb protruding from a hand in hitch-hike posture.  The poem went like so…

One by one
they pass me by

Yet none
escape my eye

Even backseat imps
are frightened by my glimpse

And none
not even alcoholics
escape the frolics
of my pollex

They’ll get their due
it’s true

For I know how it feels
to travel on wheels

They’re all selfish
like I used to be
when I had a car

                                   Author: Howard Halpern

When I finished reading the poem he gave me a copy of it, and we began talking about poetry and yoga.  Fifteen minutes later I shook his hand, and we made it a point to say hello to each other in our next lives.

The reason Howard held up his poem was so he could have it read by a varied cross section of the people.  he could not get his poem published, so this was the next best thing.  He also got to meet a lot of people. (end of entry)


When I think back on this entry I remember his broad, straw sun-hat beneath which much of his head was concealed.  And so – I don’t know what possessed me – I boldly asked him to raise it so that I could see what he looked like beneath it.  He had a magnificently rounded bald head – a veritable cue ball.

Is he alive?  Does he still write?  Is his baldness now, no longer a choice?  I wonder if he remembers that bold young man who asked him to lift his hat?  I wonder.

Name: Giovanni
Age: 56


One Response to 'Thumbing It'

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  1. shasta said,

    I think of you, my frolicking friend. Will I ever see you again? Will we laugh and cavort as we once did? What became of our easy friendship, our natural connection? Was it poisoned by dreams? Thrust away by a guilty heart? Stowed away forever in a dusty dark corner? Will we ever meet each other heart to heart as we did before? Easily, hungrily, connected.

    47 for a few more months

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