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May 29, 2013

Back Home Again in Borneo

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The plane landed in Kuala Lumpur and the first thing to hit me was the heat and humidity after a month in cold, dry Montana. I immediately broke out into a sweat with my two-day-old beard starting to itch.


For the first time in uncountable flights, I fell into a deep sleep. Usually I just doze but this time I don’t remember eight of the 24 or so hours spent in the air.


I walked into the front door of my condo and my two and half year old son looked up at me and gave a “so your back” look while I displayed a “so your still here” gaze back. My wife was glad to see me and I pulled her close for a hug. I immediately stripped off my clothes and headed for the shower to wash and shave off 30 hours of travel.


Refreshed, I opened my suitcase and pulled out 16 pounds of cheese to be refrigerated. I had put them in one of those aluminum “keep cold” bags and they were still cool after the long flight. I transferred them to the refrigerator with my wife’s help. In Borneo, cheese is very expensive because we don’t have cows and milk has to be imported. I purchased some milk yesterday for my son Dzul and it was about $8 a gallon.


My wife has acquired a taste for cheese after a lifetime of not knowing what it was. Of course she had heard of it, but her first experience was at a friend’s house in Braddock Heights, Maryland, a few years back. Although not said, I may as well not have returned without the delicious product.


I also brought her back some estate jewelry made with Montana stones that I had acquired in an antique shop. She barely glanced at it but kept opening the refrigerator door to make sure the cheese was still there.


Dzul sauntered over and decided I was an interesting object, but the open suitcase was even more so. I gave him some small John Deere tractor models, plastic farm animals and other toys which he immediately began to play with all at once. The educational DVD’s not available here, would wait until later.


I had also brought back a large painting of the prairie with two rusting John Deere tractors in the forefront. It was painted by an artist in Montana and was the bane of my travel because I had to keep track of the tube it was rolled up in. It would not fit into the overhead compartments so the stewards had to stow it in a closet. I was so afraid I would forget it.


I also brought back two bison horns. I understand that as they grow they fall off and sprout new ones and these were collected “where the buffalo roam” to quote a famous song. My idea is to sell them to Chinese medicine shops that use various animal parts to encourage the male sperm to fertilize the egg. For some reason, they are very insecure about their virility. Why, I don’t know because there are over a billion on the planet now.


I plan to visit a shop and since I don’t speak Chinese, mime the sale. First I will show them the horns. Then, on a toy bison I brought back for my son to play with, I will point to the horns. I will then pretend I am eating the horns and make other appropriate gestures with a big smile on my face. I plan to ask $300 per horn. I will keep you posted.


Somebody once asked me how me how it felt to have both a granddaughter and a son both under two years old. They implied that since I had a toddler the new arrival would not mean much. All I can say is the granddaughter feels different than my son. I can’t explain it except I am blessed by God up above with two children. Equal love for both, just different. Amen.


. . . . . Life is good . . . .


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